Growing up, we take heed of the deeds and qualities of those we wish to be like. We strive to emulate the actions of those that we admire. We refer to these people as role models.
Perhaps people is not the correct operative word for that statement. Sure, I had quite a few role models that were people that I knew. I looked up to my cousin Michael so very much. He was the coolest guy I knew. Then, you have those people that are famous. Hulk Hogan was the be all and end all of heroes in my little eyes. But, is it possible to have a role model that is neither real nor a person? I say yes.
As a child, my number one role model was none other than the head Autobot in charge, Optimus Prime. An argument could possibly be made that he is a person. He displays very humanistic qualities; personification indeed. So, that is my case for representing him as a person. After all, isn't fiction nothing more than things that are not real, represented as though they are?
That simple question began a lifelong obsession and curiosity pertaining to the inner workings and mythos surrounding everyone's favourite walking 1980s International TranStar. Unless specifically noted otherwise, I always refer to Transformers in the Generation 1 Universe. I started thinking heavily everyday about how Optimus Prime would react to situations and what his actions would be when faced with any quandary. I soon came to the conclusion that Optimus Prime is indeed the ultimate role model.
He is almost the definition of self-sacrifice. During the 1986 animated movie, he charged into the fray at the fabled 2005 Battle of Autobot City. His final words before his own beast mode level, Leeroy Jenkins inspired Charge of the Light Brigade were, "Megatron must be stopped... no matter the cost." Though the Decepticons were routed and the tide turned, the cost was indeed his own life. Even as he drew his last robotic breaths, his focus was not on himself, but rather his troops and those around him. He gallantly decreed that they not grieve for him. His final words were in a sense to carry on despite his loss. We should all be humble.
Optimus Prime is non-judgmental in his ways. His very famous personal quote is "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings." When the Autotbots and Decepticons found themselves stranded on Earth, they discovered that they were not the lone species on this planet. Megatron would have just as easily squashed us all like insects beneath his lower stabilizing joints simply for the sheer joy of hearing the squishing sounds. Sure, he put a devious human in his plans here and there along the way. But, once their usefulness expired, so would they. However, Optimus saw something different. He saw a young species, just learning how to make its way. He accepted us and tried to protect us. What was in this for him? Nothing really. But, it just was not in his spark chamber to sit idly by while we suffered.
He is also a lesson in achievement. He started out life as Orion Pax, a simple data clerk, but soon found himself with a new and improved body that allowed him to achieve the great feats that he would come to be known for. Was it really this body that enabled him to do so? In a sense, yes. However, the body, like the truck form that it took, was just that – a body. His heart was what really made them possible. A truck is worthless without a good engine. A person's abilities are worthless without the heart to push them. Abilities can make a good person even better, or a bad person even worse. Captain America taught us that.
I could go on and on all day and all night singing the praises of Optimus Prime. But, that might take the fun out of this. I have always felt that fiction is important because it can be left open to interpretation. Even though the stories are laid out and told, there are still lines that need to be filled in within one's mind. Every person takes away something different from every fictional story. They are all relative to who we are and how we perceive them. So, what does Optimus Prime mean to you? How can he inspire you to be a better person? May you all be the in the most optimal and prime states that you can achieve!