Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Michael Bay, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Controversy

(Before I begin to write, let me just note that this song was written and preformed by Chuck Lorre. He's the producer from Two and Half Men has had constant battles with Charlie Sheen in public and just cast Kathy Bates to play Sheen's ghost on the show. Just interesting.

Michael Bay is in hot water again, or at least some ooze. Bay has decided to change the backstory of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ origin. The change involves an elimination of their origin in radioactive ooze to being ninjas from another planet. Many are quite unhappy.

Former TMNT voice Robbie Rist had this to say, “"You probably don't know me but I did some voice work on the first set of movies that you are starting to talk about sodomizing," Rist wrote in a message to Bay, according to TMZ. "I know believing in mutated talking turtles is kinda silly to begin with but am I supposed to be led to believe there are ninjas from another planet? The rape of our childhood memories continues..."

“Silly” might be too strong of a word here, its hyperbolic use in this scenario underscores how we are too willing to use the word without taking into account the history of its use and the real world effects of an actual act of “silliness” has in the world.

TMNT “silly”? Was it “silly” when my childhood friend slipped invitations down a sewer drain hoping that the Michelangelo would come to his birthday?

Was it “silly” that the Turtles were transported to ancient Japan and that the prophesy of their arrival was foretold in Japanese ancient texts?

Is it “silly” that wrestling Super Star Kevin Nash played Shredder in the Secret of the Ooze or that Uncle Phil of Fresh Prince played his voice in the cartoon?

No, none of these are “silly.” Watch yourself Rist. Watch yourself. Do not disgrace The Turtle legacy.

I love the Turtles. I had their games (Turtles in Time remains one of the best two player games for SNES in history, throw in Sunset Riders, and Mickey’s Haunted Circus). I had their sleeping bags. I had their jammies, and may have stolen them from my brother at some point.

My brother loved Leonardo, I couldn’t get enough of Donatello and Michelangelo, and I am sure that somebody in the world liked Raphael.

And who could forget the importance of Splinter and one of the most underrated lines in movie history, “I made a funny.”

 I was positive and still am to this day that The Turtles and the Power Rangers could defeat anyone (Side note: Billy the Blue Power Ranger was the first celebrity I ever met at Universal Studios Hollywood).

Michael Bay, screenwriter for the movie, has become a punch line for every time we see an explosion, every time we see something incredibly overdone. He’s the LeBron James or Alex Rodriguez of Hollywood. We forget his contributions to the action genre with The Rock and Armageddon. I’m sure we’ll thank Bay for his intensive research into how to best land on an asteroid and plant a nuke in it when a massive death rock is hurdling toward earth. Michael Bay didn’t just sit around waiting for the asteroid to hit like President Morgan Freeman. He took action.

And he’s taking action again in the alteration of key plot elements. He’s being progressive again. I can’t blame Bay for wanting to freshen up the story or make a change. And was relieved in his response to the criticism, “"Fans need to take a breath, and chill. They have not read the script. Our team is working closely with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles to help expand and give a more complex back-story. Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place. We are just building a richer world."

As a fanboy, it’s hard to draw the line between wanting to see new stories about my favorite superheroes or only having them in past films, in nostalgia. It’s difficult to see your childhood warped from how you remember it. It’s like seeing your best childhood friend and not having a single in common anymore. It’s traumatic, is what it is.

If Bay can keep at least the semblance of the characters and they remind me of my past and how much fun I used to have watching those cartoons with my brother, then I’m all for it. And hopefully, after 2013, there will be another sequel, which my imaginary future children will want to see and I can prep them with marathons of my cartoon/ “Jim Henson body suit” youth.

It would be silly not to.

The Hollywood Defender

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