Optimus Prime teaches poetry at a top-ranking university. Optimus is very powerful, but very supportive and nice to everyone.
In Optimus’s workshop, Prime teaches robots how to write poetry. One robot in the class writes all of its poetry about hubcaps. Another robot writes funny, edgy poems that make all the other robots nervous and guilty about laughing.
The funny robot writes a funny, edgy poem about the hubcap robot.
They read the poem in the workshop.
The nervous robots start freaking out, calling the funny robot a racist-sexist-rapist-I-don’t-know-what robot.
“You crossed the line, funny robot. We will not read your poetry.”
“You have to ask permission before you write poems, funny robot.”
“O, funny robot, I don’t think your poem is funny.”
“All workshops should be safe and warm like a womb because male robots are cold and mean.”
“Yes! All art should be safe because you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, do you, funny robot?”
“Out of line, I say.”
“You crossed the line. Here’s the line; you crossed it.”
One greazy tear falls down funny robot’s metal face.
Optimus Prime thinks that funny robot poet is more than meets the eye, but Prime is outnumbered. It clearly states in the University guidelines that poets are only allowed to write what they are allowed to write: safe, friendly poems about squirrels and small, flightless birds and wheelbarrows of predetermined colors.
Prime wishes there were something Prime could do. Outnumbered. Hands tied.
Later, at the oil depot, I meet the nervous robots. I say, if you want to be safe, leave art. Andy Warhol was sued by Jane Fonda for drawing a picture of her. She lost the suit because that is bull shit. Whose line was Funny Robot crossing? Yours? But Funny Robot need only worry about Funny Robot’s own line. How dare you try to control an artist. Funny Robot can find the lines and decide to cross them.
They all laughed at me and called me names. I had crossed the line. They all went home and wrote mechanical poetry. I called Funny Robot and asked for a Funny Robot Poem. I hope to see it in the next Sorry for Snake. I think that you will find that it is not offensive.
Optimus Prime pinches the bridge of Prime’s nose and shakes Prime’s head. “This is a top ranking university?”