The Ninja Way
As a kid, nothing was better than pretending to be ninja. Halloween was the greatest holiday because on that day, you could reveal to everyone you true ninja self, all dressed up, without anyone thinking your crazy. However, rather than your traditional-all black wearing, never seen type ninja, my cousins and I wanted to be Ninja Turtles. As we got older, being friends with the Turtles would suffice. Then we got even older and realized it was all just a movie. Now, 20+ years since the film has been released, watching it again has made me realized The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was made for adults as much as it was for kids. The messages throughout the film are sent to both children and their parents.
Briefly the Ninja Turtles are mutated Turtles that have been raised by a mutated rat, Splinter. Splinter is a trained rat in ninjutsu and teaches his young turtles the martial art. They grow up in New York City during a time of high crime rates. As the turtles become involved with the criminals of the city we begin to learn life lessons, as well as how to become stealthy ninjas.
The turtles teach us that tasks are easier to accomplish when everyone in the group communicates and works together. Countless times we see one of the four turtles fail to defeat an opponent alone. When their Master, Splinter, is kidnapped, Raphael fails to locate him when looking by himself. It isn’t until all four turtles sit together, without any bickering, that they find a way (or a sign) on where and how to find splinter. From this a child should see the importance and benefits of working as a group. Working together can make difficult tasks easier to accomplish.
Splinter is used as a character to deliver messages to adults. The turtles are reckless and very hyper. Splinter deals with this with patience and by talking out every situation with his young turtles. No message is bigger for adults and children than when splinter is talking to one of the kids who partakes in criminal behavior. Rather than judge and blame the kid for any crimes or criminal behavior, Splinter simply tells the young lad he has an ear to listen. His message is clear, we need to spend a little more time simply listening to each other. His next approach is on the parents, as the boy explains that his father never has time for him and doesn’t care what he does. Splinter tells him all parents love their children, spending a little more time listening to their kids could be the difference between rebellious behavior or not. Lunsford states audiences tend to sympathize with ideas that they connect to. The kids rebellious ways due to the lack of time spent with a parent can be easily connected to.
I noticed two things throughout the film that might negatively view gender roles. First, was that only male characters were involved with fighting and second, only male kids were involved with the criminal activities. The turtles have a female character, April, who is always with them, but she never fights. Instead she’s the victim of a robbery and mugging. She spends countless days with the turtles, couldn’t she at least defeat a few of the enemy ninjas? One negative about this film is all the cool ninja stuff is left for the dudes. Then all the criminals are males! Not necessarily a bad thing for females, but every, out of like 150 kids, are all male. This one I’ll leave alone because it doesn’t look any better if they included female criminals. But these kids eventually become ninjas for the Shredder (bad guy) meaning females again aren’t seen as ninjas.
Overall I think the positive messages this film gives out weigh the negative. We can learn to spend more time listening to one another. We learn teamwork makes tasks easier. Communication is the key to successfully working together. This film deserves all 5 Slurpee’s but not without a super cool butt kicking female ninja.