The Death of Turtle Power By Spencer Wells
[Anything which] is a living and not a dying body… will have to be an incarnate will to power, it will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant – not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power… ‘-Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, s.259, Walter Kaufmann transl.
–1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Theme Song
The Turtles are not rich. They are not super powered. They are not intentional and they sure as hell aren’t pretty. They are freaks of nature who live in below poverty conditions. They live in the cold and damp of the sewer, while we live above in the warmth and comfort of capitalism. As we eat our nice pre-made microwave meals, the turtles are most likely chomping down on expired pizza left out back near a dumpster of near the Lower East-side of New York; and yet they smile. The Heroes in a Half-Shell are amateur freedom fighters of the common man. They aren’t destined for greatness, nor did they have it thrust upon them, they aspire to it. They are only bound by the teaching of their Master, Splinter, himself a product of violence, as he witnessed his owner, Hamato Yoshi die. Splinter taught his “sons” not to be victims, nor to allow anyone else to be victimized, and through hard work, training, and sheer force of will, they became the greatest defenders that the citizens of New York have. This is Turtle Power and that is something Michael Bay doesn’t understand.
Throughout all of the incarnations up to this point the Turtles have the same origin story. The Turtles and Splinter are mutated by accident, Splinter trains them, and they fight crime. That’s the overall layout; very simple and very easy to follow, hence the title Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and theme always remains; Turtle Power. The Turtles live in nothing, come from nothing, and are born into nothing. They were never meant to exist, they will never be considered normal; no matter where the ooze that mutates them comes from. Be it from the ooze of aliens or radioactivity, the ooze wasn’t meant to be there. The Turtles were discarded and forgotten by a kid coming out of a pet shop, and Splinter is a disgusting vermin that most people would kill. All three of these parties ended up in the sewer. The Turtles are born in, raised in and live in discarded filth. And they rise out of it each night. That is why we love the Turtles and why their setting, their origin, and their themes touches us and why they haven’t changed. They, the Turtles, have every reason to give in, be it from nature or from society, and they never do. The Turtles’ existence and persistence defies all. That is Turtle Power and Michael Bay and his cronies do not understand that in the least bit.
At every stage of development, Bay and his “creative team” have shown a disregard to the source material in a way that either expresses extreme ignorance or a raging contempt for their audience. The first was Bay’s statement at the 2012 Nickelodeon Upfront that “these Turtles are from an alien race.” I would like one to realize that if these Turtles are “from an alien race,” they are no longer biologically turtles. They are aliens that resemble turtles, thus being Turtleoids. The Turtleoids remained until August of 2012 when the website TMNT (not TANT) leaked a draft of the script called “The Blue Door,” which proved to be authentic upon Bay’s confirmation. Not only was the script confirmed, it also confirmed that the Turtleoids were alien, they were no longer born and raised in the sewers, but from a dimension of anamorphic animals.
The Turtleoids of the “Blue Door” draft were born into a perfectly accepting and understanding society comprised completely of other beings of their kind. There was nothing abnormal about them, they were born naturally, had a Turtle mother and father and Michelangelo has a Turtle sweetheart and could have turtle babies. They are loved and reproduce naturally. Better than that, they are elite, formally trained, and well equipped warriors. No longer is Splinter just a mutated vermin that learn martial arts through observation as an unintelligent animal who taught his shelled students from his limited understanding. No longer are the turtles amateurs, they are paid professionals. They have great lives. No different than anyone else. Their accomplishments are no greater than training for the Special Forces. The Turtleoids are respected, paid, and privileged members of society, so it can easily be said that the Special Forces Turtleoids have utterly nothing in common with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, not even in name.
When news of the Special Forces Turtleoids was made public, Bay and his team halted production and began damage control. They repurposed the Turtles. Angelo Saxon Shredder states the new origin of the Turtles, as revealed in the post production trailer, “but heroes are not born. They’re created. That’s what your father and I were trying to do — create heroes.” The Turtles are no longer Turtleoids from another dimension, but biological weapons of mass destruction as exemplified by one of the Turtles being capable of smashing a plate armored Humvee. No longer do the skilled ninjas need to cloak their appearances in the shadows, now they are simply tanks, raw physical power. They are super-soldiers, designed to be adept at combat, never needing to train. Bay’s Turtles have earned their power on no merit of their own and as stated in the trailer, in Bay’s world, Turtle power doesn’t exist. Heroes can’t train, or overcome their physical limitations through effort. Heroes have to be created in a lab. Heroes are created and predestined; the old, accidental, freaks of nature lived on a diet of stale pizza and dwelled in perpetual filth and taught that anyone can become a hero if they desired… they are dead. At least in Michael Bay’s world and I would rather live in a sewer in New York than live there.
Spencer Wells is the New Correspondent for WESURVIVE and World of Wisdom, and his reporting has been published on the Courier-Journal. He is a second reader for Polyphony Magazine and a advisory reader for Wilde Magazine. He has also been have been a actor for over 10 years at Walden Theater’s Conservatory. At school he is the editor for the school’s literary magazine, who’s revival he over saw, a founding member of and first president of the school’s Environmental Club, as well being selected to participate at the Governor Scholars Program, and is proud National Honors Society member. http://wesurvive.org/wordpress/