Why Spider Jerusalem adopts the three-eyed Transient Smiley?

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Idhan
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Why Spider Jerusalem adopts the three-eyed Transient Smiley?

Postby Idhan » Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:52 am UTC

I'm referring to Transmetropolitan here.

What I'm wondering is, before and during the Angels 8 riots, Spider Jerusalem had nothing but the deepest contempt for the Transients. He thought that Fred Christ was an egomaniac and a sex fiend, while he thought the rest of the transients were generally dull-witted sheep who followed idiotic trends. Now, he certainly thought that the Transients had a right to live their unique lifestyle (I'm not sure whether he thought they actually had a right to secede or not, but anyway...), and he certainly thought the police were wrong in their brutal response, and that the police had used agents provocateur to start the riots in the first place.

However, later on the three-eyed Transient smiley goes on to become an iconic part of Spider Jerusalem's symbolism, wardrobe, etc. Why? Jerusalem may have defended the rights of the Transients, but not only was he not a Transient himself, but he didn't even have a shred of respect for the Transients. It seems like an ACLU lawyer who once defended the right of a bunch of neo-Nazis to hold a parade going on to pin a swastika on her shirt. Moreover, my impression is that most people share Spider's contempt for the Transients -- most people in the city who know about Transients regard them as being something tantamount to furry lifestylers or people who think they're vampires or something. (Except with access to advanced genetic technologies and such.)

Is it just a way of bringing up the abuse of authority at its worst? Fair enough, but the Transient Smiley seems like an odd way of conveying angry protest against the powers that be. I mean, fundamentally, it's a smiley face!

Thoughts?

(BTW, I haven't read Transmetropolitan all the way through.)

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Re: Why Spider Jerusalem adopts the three-eyed Transient Smiley?

Postby Jessica » Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:37 pm UTC

I assume that spider doesn't consciously use the 3 eyed smiley, but that it's more of a good symbol for the trades.
The 3 eyed smiley represents a bit of the old (yellow smiley) a bit of the bizarre (3 eyes). I assume it's more just a strange iconography representing spider by the author, not by the character.
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Re: Why Spider Jerusalem adopts the three-eyed Transient Smiley?

Postby JayDee » Thu Nov 13, 2008 8:54 pm UTC

Yeah, I always figured that it was aimed at readers of the comic, not people in it. That, or the three-eyed smiley quickly became a typical fairly meaningless pop culture icon in the City.
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Re: Why Spider Jerusalem adopts the three-eyed Transient Smiley?

Postby Belial » Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:33 pm UTC

The transients were kindof representative of Spider's relationship with people as a whole: He thought they were dumb. He had nothing but contempt for their stupidity and the way they so readily left themselves open for exploitation by authority and independent bad people alike (the cops and fred christ) but at the end of the day he spoke for them, and tried to help them and make people see and care about their troubles and not just their idiocy.

It's kindof one of the central conflictes with him: he hates his entire readership, transients included, but he also desperately wants them to wake up and see and stop getting fucked over by the people he hates *way more*.

In fact, come to think of it, it's probably not accurate to even say that he hates the populace at large. Not the way he hates the smiler, or the beast, or the cops, or fred christ. He's just disappointed in them. He knows they could be much, much better, and he knows they aren't. And he knows that people like the aforementioned politicians exploit and cultivate the populace's failings. That's where the hate starts.
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Re: Why Spider Jerusalem adopts the three-eyed Transient Smiley?

Postby OmenPigeon » Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:42 pm UTC

I don't have my copy of Transmetropolitan on hand, but I think that
Spoiler:
when the students near the end are printing smiley-face stickers and putting them on riot police just before they get shot
someone asks Spider about why people use the smiley, and he says something to effect of "I don't know why; it's just a symbol of everything to everyone, it represents everything weird and free about us that they want to destroy." Probably with more curses.
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Re: Why Spider Jerusalem adopts the three-eyed Transient Smiley?

Postby telkanuru » Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:25 pm UTC

Never mind that it's an excellent symbol of the world in the comic. It's familiar to us, but it's weird as well.
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Re: Why Spider Jerusalem adopts the three-eyed Transient Smiley?

Postby Okita » Wed Nov 26, 2008 6:19 pm UTC

OmenPigeon wrote:I don't have my copy of Transmetropolitan on hand, but I think that
Spoiler:
when the students near the end are printing smiley-face stickers and putting them on riot police just before they get shot
someone asks Spider about why people use the smiley, and he says something to effect of "I don't know why; it's just a symbol of everything to everyone, it represents everything weird and free about us that they want to destroy." Probably with more curses.


Actually here's what happens near the end of Transmetropolitan:

Spoiler:
Spider and the filthy assistants are looking at the students on tv sticking the armed forces with the three eyed smiley stickers.
Spider:I'll be damned.
Yelena: What does that mean?
Spider: To them? I could guess.


The description for the smiley is when Spider first gives it to Channon with this explanation (this issue...4):
Spoiler:
Spider: Anyway. You don't learn Journalism in a school. You learn it by writing fucking journalism. You teach yourself to wire up your own brain and gut and reproductive organs into one frightening machine that you aim at the planet like a meat gun -
Channon: Meat gun? What do I get? An attack womb?
Spider: Sure. Why not? I'll tell you what you get.
*Spider fishes out a 3 eyed smiley face button and gives it to Channon.
Spider: ...A pretty button. See how sweet I am to my new assistant? Symbol of the transient movement. Think of it as a reminder.
Channon: Of what?
Spider: All people are scum. No matter what they look like.

You end up seeing Channon wearing that button a lot through out the rest of the series. Anyway, Spider Jerusalem doesn't really use the icon as warddrobe or even that much as symbolism. You see it a lot though because, like his glasses, people probably saw him involved with the transients and Channon wearing it and they decided to adopt it because y'know Spider Jerusalem is cool. But people are still scum as he says.
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Re: Why Spider Jerusalem adopts the three-eyed Transient Smiley?

Postby Jackpot » Fri Nov 28, 2008 2:37 pm UTC

Okita wrote:The description for the smiley is when Spider first gives it to Channon with this explanation (this issue...4):
Spoiler:
Spider: Anyway. You don't learn Journalism in a school. You learn it by writing fucking journalism. You teach yourself to wire up your own brain and gut and reproductive organs into one frightening machine that you aim at the planet like a meat gun -
Channon: Meat gun? What do I get? An attack womb?
Spider: Sure. Why not? I'll tell you what you get.
*Spider fishes out a 3 eyed smiley face button and gives it to Channon.
Spider: ...A pretty button. See how sweet I am to my new assistant? Symbol of the transient movement. Think of it as a reminder.
Channon: Of what?
Spider: All people are scum. No matter what they look like.

You end up seeing Channon wearing that button a lot through out the rest of the series. Anyway, Spider Jerusalem doesn't really use the icon as warddrobe or even that much as symbolism. You see it a lot though because, like his glasses, people probably saw him involved with the transients and Channon wearing it and they decided to adopt it because y'know Spider Jerusalem is cool. But people are still scum as he says.


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Re: Why Spider Jerusalem adopts the three-eyed Transient Smiley?

Postby Korbl » Tue Oct 13, 2009 2:59 am UTC

Belial wrote:The transients were kindof representative of Spider's relationship with people as a whole: He thought they were dumb. He had nothing but contempt for their stupidity and the way they so readily left themselves open for exploitation by authority and independent bad people alike (the cops and fred christ) but at the end of the day he spoke for them, and tried to help them and make people see and care about their troubles and not just their idiocy.

It's kindof one of the central conflictes with him: he hates his entire readership, transients included, but he also desperately wants them to wake up and see and stop getting fucked over by the people he hates *way more*.

In fact, come to think of it, it's probably not accurate to even say that he hates the populace at large. Not the way he hates the smiler, or the beast, or the cops, or fred christ. He's just disappointed in them. He knows they could be much, much better, and he knows they aren't. And he knows that people like the aforementioned politicians exploit and cultivate the populace's failings. That's where the hate starts.

well, the thing is that Spider generally hates in one of two different ways. There's the general misanthropy that drives him to shoot thousands of people in the rear passage on new years eve, because he's a miserable, bitter old man who certainly won't be getting his kiss at midnight.
(this is why people have forbidden me from owning a bowel disruptor if it's ever invented)
There's also the more specific, targeted, "I want to stop you, kill you, chain you up in front of beasts with stds and shoot them in the rear passage" raw hatred that is targetted towards the likes of the Smiler and the Beast.

The general misanthropy really does seem to be based on disappointment (As well as not having the happiest of lives), but the true hatred comes from indignation at people who could do so much, make the world so much better, and yet they just want to use the power to further their own ends.

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Re: Why Spider Jerusalem adopts the three-eyed Transient Smi

Postby Pixiesquid » Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:10 am UTC

Great question! I feel like I have a unique answer. Spider is loosely based on Hunter S. Thompson, so I see some parallels between the three-eyed smiley and the gonzo fist that Thompson would use in his campaign for sheriff/ mayor of aspen and later as a personal emblem. The gonzo fist was at first just a way to mess with the established order, a challenge to authority, and a kind of troll. Layer it would become serious iconography for the gonzo journalist movement, which promoted inserting the journalist into the center of the story rather than as a passive observer. If we apply that idea to the smiley face we get this: The image started as a kind of joke to Spider, who despised the peopl involved in the movement , but supported their right to make their own decisions. He started passively supporting that right by wearing the symbol, because he felt they should be free from oppression more than that he agreed with their ideology. As another poster mentioned it may have something to do with reminding himself of what hes foghting for or against. As time went on, the smiley began representing his personal feelings (wanting to escape humanity and human destruction in his own way. Supporting freedom over your body and mind) more than the original message. He had experiences that changed his motivations and made him care more about telling the story than doing justice. I feel like I could draw better parallels if I brushed up on transmet, but you get the idea...


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