Hello, as you know I’m Jester and I’m a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’m also a Christian. Why do I start this review this way? Well, because according to the authors Phil Phillips (If that’s his real name…doubtful) and Joan Hake Robie I can’t honestly be both. You see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as practically any TV cartoon of the late 80’s and 90’s were agents of the Devil and are meant to turn kids from Jesus Christ and to the Dark Lord! MUHAHAHA!!! Yeah…right.
The first book I got by these two was of course Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Exposed which is called a “critical analysis” of the TMNT. I’ll admit, it wasn’t that critical. At only 75 pages, the book is more a basic over view of the Turtles and why your kid likes them. They give a stripped down origin story as well as what made the Turtles so popular during their heyday in the 90’s (that parents just don’t get them). It also touches on other points in Turtle Mania, like the movies, action figure line, and even the Coming Out Of Their Shells tour (because we all know that rock music is of the DEVIL!!!!) The one section that could be considered even a tad critical is the chapter called The Philosophy of the Turtles. It discusses the ninja part of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle equation, with far more seriousness and forethought than I’m sure Eastman and Laird ever did. At the end of the chapter, as a way of wrapping it all up, the author writes (All quotes will be in yellow, so they are easier to separate from my comments. :D):
“Crime – The Shredder, is said to be ruthless and vengeful and has a brilliant criminal mind. Should we teach our children that crime pays?”
Um….Shredder in the TV shows is a bumbling loser always bested by the Turtles and pizza, in the movies was crushed first by a garbage truck and then by a pier, and in the comic was blown up. Yes kids, crime does pay.
“Eastern Religions – Krang is the spiritual leader to Shredder. Krang speaks from his middle (stomach) where a demonic-like figure is visible.”
When was Krang ever Shredder’s spiritual leader? And would you consider an effeminate disembodied brain demonic-like?
“Sex – In the Archie Comics April O’Neil is seen as a voluptuous and sexy female. In the movie O’Neil’s skirts are so short (or she is wearing shorts that they reveal her legs almost to the top of the thigh). Should our children see women as only sex images?”
So the fact that April is a driven and career oriented woman, that is nothing. She’s only a sex object. And when in the Archie comics did they make April overly sexy? Help me out here.
“Darkness – The movie (which is rated PG and is recommended for 4-12 year-olds) takes place in the darkness where “night action” occurs. Children are prone to be scared of the dark. Many evil deeds take done in the darkness. The Bible says…men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil (John 3:19)”
Ok, this is rediculous. They have a beef with the movie being done mostly (though there is quite a bit done in the light of day as well.) in the darkness? The Turtles are “monsters” for lack of a better term. To appear in broad daylight is a mistake they cannot make. They foil many of the “evil deeds” that are done in the dark. And the John 3:19 quote is a stretch of scripture. It’s spiritual darkness not literal darkness.
“Weapons – Names of ninja (lethal) weapons, their descriptions and use are incorporated into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle series.”
Ah yes, in the pilot episode…for all of 5 seconds.
“Meditation – The Ninja uses meditation to obtain physical power and “inner strength.” Meditation is a religion that does not accept Jesus Christ, The Messiah, as the one true God.”
Yes, Ninjas do use meditations, but the Turtles seldom meditate. They did in the first movie, and Splinter does in the series, but meditation is seldom used to gain special powers aside from perhaps foresight. That and Meditation isn’t a religion, it’s a religious act. Ok, there is the Transcendental Meditation Movement, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a religion. And heck, Christians are called to take time to pray and meditate on the scriptures. Is that not accepting Jesus as the one true God.
That again is the most critical portion of this book, but I remembered reading in school a book (I had to do an annotated bibliography and a pal and I thought these books would be fun) that was much harsher than TMNT: Exposed. So I tracked it down. That book, Saturday Morning Mind Control.
Dig the front cover. See how evil the Turtles are! The passages are small yet biting, and riddled with inaccuracies about the TMNT which shows how much “research” went into this stuff. Here are some quotes:
“The current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series averages 34 violent acts an hour.”
Yes, but mostly slapstick pizza-pie to the face stuff. Nothing you wouldn’t see in any Three Stooges short.
“The most common social group depicted on Saturday morning TV is the gang…
What Distinguishes a gang from a normal group of friends?
First, identity with and loyalty to the gang overrides any other loyalty, specifically to family or society as a whole.
Second, gang members are all within a fairly narrow age range, whether they are teens or preteens.
Third, the older wizard for the group, whether it is a street-smart teenager leading children or an aged friendly scientist, is never a family member.
Forth, the gang is identified by wearing a common uniform or emblem. Slogans and secret code words are often employed.And fifth, the gang has a turf. With the turf comes the obligation to defend it at all costs, even the cost of life.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles falls nicely into the long legacy of gang profiles, which has as its origin the programs of the 1970s: Yogi’s Gang, Superfrinds, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and even the animated version of Lassie.
The basic plot line for Teenage mutant Ninja Turtles is the four ordinary turtles are accidentally dropped into a sewer manhole, where they encounter a radioactive goo that causes them to grow to human size and gain the power to speak. The mutated turtles are adopted by Splinter, a similarly mutated rat.
Splinter had been the pet of a ninja warrior, and he continues to battle against his former master’s nemesis. Splinter names his adopted sons Leonardo (the leader), Raphael (the rebel), Michaelangelo (the prankster), and Donatello whiz with anything technical). He drills them to become ninja warriors, which they are by the time they teenager status.
As a gang of four, they have a look, a code language and mutual love of pizza, a share religion (ninja), and a wise older guide who is not part of a true family unit.”
I know, big chunk there. I love how he uses the comic/movie origin and not the series. He calls the Turtles Splinter’s adopted sons, yet goes on to say that he is not a true part of their family unit. Remember that children of adoption, you aren’t a true part of the family unit. The Turtles aren’t a gang, they are a family. Splinter is their father and leader. In fact in the TMNT movie, Splinter decries the Foot “gang” as not a true family, which one would assume that he and the Turtles would be a contrast of. Later in the book the author lists shows that are appropriate and inappropriate for children. TMNT isn’t on any of those lists and listed as acceptable is…are you sitting down?…Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. Not that I think that it’s bad, but it’s listed as in the same evil gang promoting vein as the TMNT. WHAT THE HECK MAN!? Ok…lets move on before I have an aneurysm.
“In the animated series, Splinter frequently is shown in a classic lotus position, with a large Yin/Yang symbol behind him on the wall, as he counsels the Turtles. Ninja is based on an ancient religious practice called Kung pau in the cartoon. In history, this early religion, which employs one of the earliest mind control techniques known, is called “kujucurry.” Splinter often lays his hand on his head as he communicates with the Turtles, indicating a mind control technique at work…”
Ok…lets dissect this shall we. I won’t dispute Splinter’s meditation and the yin/yang. It’s there, whoopie. It hasn’t made me want to sit in the lotus position and chant mantras. Second, the Kung Pow technique was used in one episode, Cowabunga, Shred-head! as a way to keep Michelangelo from eating pizza and to keep Shredder from reverting back to himself. It was a form of hypnosis, but I guess that’s mind control, right?
“Early episodes of the Turtles were violent but rather campy in their story lines and uses of language. Increasingly over the years, however, the religious undertones of the ninja belief have become more obvious…”
Really? I’ll have to tell fans of the series that then because the series got even more campy as it went on. The 7th through 10th seasons made it a little more serious, but for the most part it was still slapstick silliness and the ninja philosophy was nearly nonexistent.
“The turtles recent movie was rated PG, but the day I saw it it in a theater outside Dallas, at least half the audience was in the three to six year old range. The movie is filled with curse words, has a reporter who dresses like a hooker, and is extremely violent…”
“Filled with curse words.” Raph says “damn” 3 maybe 4 times as well as “bitchin'”, Mikey says “damn” once. Donny says “damn” once and you’d have to have the captions on to even notice. so that’s what…6 to 7 swears in a movie that’s over 90 minutes long. That’s less than one every 15 minutes. And when was April dressed like a hooker? Answer me that. If a reporter dressed like a hooker, would she be a reporter for long? And again the violence of TMNT was slapstick at best. There is no blood shown and they squirt water at guys for Pete’s sake.
So there’s my review of these two wonderful works of fiction. I’ll see all you fellow Turtle fans in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks.