Can We Please Not Have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Culture War?
I don't ask a lot. I don't really ask anything. Absurdities come and go. I roll with what I can and let the rest fade away. We're similar in that regard, aren't we? We won't agree on everything, but we're adults who ultimately respect each others' tastes and accept — resentfully or not — that in this destabilized, hyper-reductive cinematic climate, even such fare as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot has a place in our culture. It's big enough for all of us! So with this in mind, and in light of the vicious media sparring currently underway among the TMNT establishment, can we please, please just lay down our nunchucks and let this skirmish go?
To wit, can we please not make an international incident out of producer Michael Bay's context-free acknowledgement that "[t]hese turtles are from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely lovable"? Judging by the fan reaction, you'd think that Bay proposed changing the heroes to rabbits or literally stomped on a live turtle in the middle of the Nickelodeon upfronts.
And to that point, can we please no longer spotlight the bottom-feeding likes of Robbie Rist, who provided the voice of Michaelangelo in the original live-action TMNT films and who inveighed against Bay [via TMZ, of course]:
"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. [...] 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 ... "
And to that point, can we please institute a moratorium on vaguely public figures comparing the contemporary adaptation of past glories to "rape," "sodomizing," and other terms of sexual violence? Just as nobody assaulted Vertigo against its will — despite Kim Novak's hair-raising protestations otherwise — Michael Bay is not thinking about or even capable of penetrating TMNT's anus or anyone's "childhood memories." For the record, neither TMNT nor our childhood memories have anuses to penetrate, forcibly or otherwise. This is an increasingly reckless, facile and fairly reprehensible analogy that the press nevertheless plays along with instead of suugesting a more appropriate alternative word for the act compromising a renowned legacy. How about "Lucas," perhaps? E.G.: "Michael Bay had better not Lucas the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, or I'll be pissed." "Aliens? But that Lucases everything." Etc., etc. Now that's a vision from which even Bay would recoil.
And to that point, can we please step back from utterly unwinnable culture wars that make Bay look like the reasonable one? From a message-board dispatch by Bay himself:
"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."
"A richer world"! Imagine! Put your weapons down! Or at least aim them at a graver travesty.