School and life has kept me from posting, but not from lurking over the past year or so. I am in the last stretch of my college education, and it's taken an interesting turn. One of my summer classes is a course on post modernism on the screen. it's a five week course and we have three 600-1200 word essays due a week. Kinda brutal, but the world is totally compelling and I thought I'd share my rough draft for one of those assignments today.
PROOF READERS WELCOME! but be nice, this is for school, so I had to tone down the nerd- just a tad though.
Do Androids Dream of Pixelated Sheep?
“Rock, having a strong sense of justice, volunteered to be converted into a fighting robot, thus the super robot MEGAMAN was born.” These few sentences begin Mega Man IV, released in 1991 on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and reflect the origin of the character, and relate the story of his three adventures preceding this one. The game, along with the games before and after it, tell the story of Mega Man, aka, Rock Man across the pacific, and an android created by Dr. Light to combat the machinations of the evil Dr. Wily and his renegade industrial robots.
Megaman's world is one in which humans and robots were living in supposed harmony, with robots working everyday jobs, and preforming specialized industrial tasks. One day, in the year 200X, the a group of robots rises up, and a Mad Scientist rallies with them to cause as much destruction as possible, and the only line of defense is an 11 year old android with a plasma canon for an arm. He's tasked to take on an entire new identity, and while he is still a thinking and feeling thing, he has given up his domestic life as a house cleaning robot to fight his own kind for the sake of humanity. His name is Megaman, but it's clear he's nothing more than a Mega boy.
How do you grow up with your conciseness trapped in a metal body? All his ideas of self are charged particles running across a lattice work of wire and silicon. Is our venerable hero doomed for ever to the status of some sort of post modern Pinocchio? One of the primary functions of the Megaman narrative is the idea that these rogue robots have begun to break the laws that govern human/robot interaction. The very same laws of robotics set forth by Asimov; these robots have started to hurt humans. For some reason they have risen up against the humans that they were in servitude towards. Were the hours too long? Were the oil changes not frequent enough? What bred the discontent in these robots that caused them to rise up and lash out and destroy the cities that their creators had built? Why does Megaman not have this beef with the humans and chosen instead to fight the robot jerks rioting in the streets?
It is not because he is a titanium boyscout. It is because through helping the humans, and making a choice that his highly developed moral compass has led him to believe is right, allows him to achieve an idea of identity. How dull was cleaning scientist's lab? With the advent of the robot uprising, he is allowed to take on a position much higher than what it was that he was originally created. He can transcend his fate as a janitorial contraption and make a difference. Even if that difference means reducing his own kind to puddles of molten lead. Megaman's Identity is tragically through all of this not his own. He is a champion of Humanity, and incorruptible moral paragon that signifies the purely good and defends it from pissed of robots with scissors for heads. He can never go back to cleaning Dr. Light's home and lab, he forever abandoned that life when he underwent the conversion from housekeeper to war machine. It is also worth noting, that for a very long time in the series ongoing story line, that Megaman was the only robot designed specifically for war, after his reprogramming, rather than all those he must fight who are merely worker bees run Amok with no concessions made for battle.
Megaman exists as the idea of an android integrated into society, cooperating and apparently enjoying his existence enough to want to protect it. It is this that separates him. Those renegade robot masters turned their back on the society that create them and gave them purpose. These Highly specialized and one of a kind robots chose to destroy humanity. Their motivations are never fully explained because we are talking about an 8-bit video game, but the fiction surrounding the series hold to the theory that Dr. Wily found a bunch of robots on the edge, and pushed them over it. Being the one that brought enlightenment to them, he was able to shape that enlightenment to his own will. The robots are lashing out at the idea of human control and inequality, but he's they are blinded to the fact that they have been further manipulated into this position, by a human. They have been turned against a society that rejected the misanthropic and unappreciated Wily, for his own purposes of revenge. You cannot help but feel sorry for these androids, trying to find the identity that Megaman was able to find in defending the human race from mavericks of his own kind, but being duped into further serving humans. You cannot feel too sorry though, because they are all dicks. A robot with flame throwers for hands always trumps a human in a fight, and if that robot decides to fight a human, he is a dick.
Said robot killing humans in droves kind of just makes you want to kick it's ass. Conscious or not, as a robot there are very few things that you are expected of you, not abusing your superior strength intelligence and over all capability against humans for the sake of harm is one of them. Megaman displays his nobility and heroism that at the end of every game, after taking down Wily for the umpteenth time, he never kills him. I like to think that isn't because this is a game for little kids, but because Mega man refuses to break the laws that governed his creation. He will not harm a human, even if that human has killed millions. It is not his place to judge the value of a life, especially with the consideration that his own ideas of “humanity,” are probably at this point in his existence pretty nascent.
Megaman is a post-modern hero. He isn't an anti-hero, but he is not a traditional hero. His power, other than that he's a super fighting robot, is that he can think, feel and decide for himself. He is an artificial life form, but he has more life in his arm cannon than most of us do in our whole bodies, and he holds on to his sentience and identity not from some internal stand point or knowledge that he simply “is,” but from the work he does, and the higher standard at which he lives. He holds on to his idea of humanity by protecting it, rather than taking out his angst over his prefabricated existence by leveling cities.