Article: " love everything" One fan's personal myth

in 2013, Article


"Ben, you love everything..." One fan's personal myth

Here's a conversation I have had dozens of times over the years since I began running BWTF:

Fan: "So what do you think of ?"
Me: "It's cool, I like XYZ a lot."
Fan: (With a knowing smile) "Of course, you love everything."
Me: "Well, I like a lot but not everything..."
Fan: (Laughs and walks away)

I'm not making this up. I've had this exact same conversation with different fans so many times in the past decade that it's almost become as standard as "Hello, how are you?" at Botcon.

A recent online conversation jogged this in my mind again. Someone was making tons of derisive comments about all Transformers that are not Generation One. No matter how much I tried to provide facts, insights and knowledge, this person could not let go and open their mind to anything other than the original line of "Transformers". To say the person's perspective was irrational and biased would be an understatement. I felt myself having a strong reaction to this and asked myself why? The sample conversation above immediately came to mind and my thoughts came together as this post.

Let's go back in time. It was 1984, Montreal Canada was the location. I went to a Sears department store with an uncle. At the time I was a huge "Star Wars" fan. When I saw "Transformers", I had no context. Just what the packaging told me. There was a war, these guys with the red faces were good guys, these purple face guys were the bad guys. They could change form and more than that, they had personalities! The entire concept of robots that turned into something I could see in every day life blew me away and I can confidently say that in those few moments, I was changed forever. I was in love, and here I am about thirty years later every bit as in love with "Transformers" as I was back then.

The term "fan" comes from "fanatic", and while that term can sometimes have negative implications, it can be a positive thing if balanced out with knowledge and maturity. Without going into a long (and boring) history, I've been very fortunate to have not only enjoyed "Transformers" as a consumer, but I've been involved in official "Transformers" product on and off for many years. This has given me a perspective on how products come together and the herculian effort involved. From project management, to engineering, to artistic inspiration - every step behind our beloved robots in disguise involves a huge labor of love. I've come to respect this and admire it.

That's not to say there aren't questionable decisions made (Why don't most Mech Tech weapons have a way to lock the alt form?!) and some bad designs (*cough*Retrax*cough*) but overall, I have always tried to maintain a positive and informed outlook on the products that ultimately wind up as part of my collection. It's not really an accurate statement to say "Ben Yee loves everything...", it's more like "Ben Yee tries to stay positive and look at what's good in everything..."

In a line about robots that change form, this attitude is key. Getting stuck in the rut of " were the only good Transformers!" is a path to frustration and is often not productive. I've often seen such folks cannot express just why their preferred line is "the best", causing an almost irrational hatred of everything else. It's one thing to say "That's not my cup of tea." it's another to say "Everything sucks but this!" and that's a line I see people drifting across from time to time and it saddens me.

I'm not trying to convince anyone to love "Beast Wars" more than "Robots in Disguise" or what have you. Instead, I'm trying to say that over thirty years, I have extracted so much joy out of being a "Transformers" fan that I wish others could also experience that happiness. Through my reviews, I try to spread that positive attitude and I practice what I preach. When I see a conversation full of haterade, I'm usually one of the first to say "Well, here's what's cool about it". I dare to be positive, but I hope for a time when being positive isn't a dare at all.