Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ninja Turtles

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.

Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stop motion animation, musical film made in 1993 by Disney.  Even though this film is an animation, it was obviously intended for an older audience.  The film may be too scary for a little one.  The Nightmare Before Christmas can be interpreted as a take on classic stop motion films.  Although this film is a musical, it is not your average musical.  Tim Burton is known for thinking outside the box and this film adheres to that.  All of the creatures and people in this film are distorted and strange looking.  Burton creates an interesting world that draws the viewer in.  In Tim Burton’s book Burton on Burton published in 1995, Burton talks about his inspiration for making The Nightmare Before Christmas.  "The initial impulse for doing it was for the love of Dr Seuss and those holiday specials that I grew up watching, like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Those crude stop-motion animation holiday things that were on year in, year out make an impact on you early and stay with you...the impulse was to do something like that" (Burton 115).

The underlying message of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, is that we have good ideas and intentions but there will always be people that misinterpret them and discredit us.  We all have people in our lives that bring us down but you have to get back up and keep trying.  Always do your best.  "He was into that whole psychological thing of being pieced together...the feeling of not being together and of being loosely stitched together and constantly trying to pull yourself together, so to speak, is just a strong feeling to me" (Burton 123).  Tim Burton wanted to give this message in his own way and he definitely did.  Another message in this film is that we all desire change.  The main character is Jack Skellington.  He is tired of doing the same old routine every year for Halloween.  Jack is longing for change.  Jack is walking deep into a forest and eventually comes upon Christmas Town.  Jack finds a new meaning in life, Christmas.  Jack ultimately finds out that change may have not been the best thing after all.  When Jack had good intentions to bring Christmas cheer and dress as Santa, the people of Christmas Town were afraid of him instead.  Scaring people was what Jack was originally good at.  Jack Skellington tried to become someone he wasn’t and he created chaos by pushing Santa out of his role.  We all get tired of the same old mundane things in our life.  We enjoy change and excitement in life but too much change can be bad.  This film gives us the message to be who you are and do not try to be someone else.  

The appeals of ethos, pathos and logos are all contained in this film.  The film’s message is logical because everyone desires change and wants to try new things.  Logically we have all had failures that we have had to recover from and this film demonstrates that.  The Nightmare Before Christmas is very consistent throughout the film in the story, characters, and message.  These are appeals to logos.  This film seeks credibility in that it is so different from the norm in musicals and stop motion animation films.  Tim Burton successfully presents his message in an unconventional yet, credible approach.  Tim Burton is credible just because his films are odd and different.  Also if the viewer enjoyed the messages in any of Tim Burton’s other films, they would surely appreciate The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Ethos is achieved through credibility in this film.  Pathos is the largest appeal in this film.  The Nightmare Before Christmas pulls at your emotions and imagination as you take in the world that Tim Burton has created.  The messages may be hard to catch at first in this film just because you imagination is wrapping around all the characters, songs, and scenery.

Most of the messages in The Nightmare Before Christmas are positive, however, there are some negative messages.  After Jack frees Santa Clause, Santa ends up saving Christmas, not Jack.  Even after Santa saves Christmas, Jack is credited for saving the day.  This could teach us that others will fix our mistakes, which is untrue.  It could also communicate that it is ok to take credit for something that you did not do.  Sally is a rag doll that scientist Dr. Finklestein created so that he could have an intelligent companion to spend time with.  Sally ends up drugging Dr. Finklestein and running away.  This could send a bad message about drugs and that running away from home is ok.  The message that ultimately wins out in The Nightmare Before Christmas is the cliché message of picking yourself back up.  Tim Burton says that he likes this message in his book.  Burton effectively portrays this message in the film.  I would like to say this message is unique to this film but it is not.  Disney movies commonly have this message as well as the other messages that were presented in this film.  All the arguments made in this film are values we deal with everyday.  “Arguments about the present are often arguments about contemporary values – that is, the beliefs and assumptions that are widely held (or debated) within a society” (Lunsford 18).  I do not think children could pick up on any of the messages presented but adults could easily see the hidden agenda.      

The Nightmare Before Christmas has become a classic stop motion animation in contemporary film.  The Nightmare Before Christmas is unlike many stop motion films I have seen, because of the abnormal creatures and unusual plot.  I enjoyed this film, as I had not seen it before this assignment.  I would rate this film four out of five slurpees just because of some of the negative arguments made.

Works Cited

Burton, Tim. Salisbury, Mark, . Burton on Burton: Revised Edition. Revised ed. Vol. . : Faber & Faber; Revised edition, 2000. Pg. 115-123.

Lunsford, Andrea. Ruskiewicz, John. Walters, Keith. Everything’s An Argument with readings.  2010. Pg. 18.

Beauty and the Beast: messages

            "Virtually every movie presents us with role models, ideal ways of behaving, negative traits, and an implied morality based on the filmmaker’s sense of right and wrong” (Giannetti, 3). Beauty and the Beast might be a children’s movie, but it still has very powerful messages. It is important for children’s films to have positive messages because they are learning to distinguish right from wrong. When I was a little girl, the characters from the movies I watched were my idols and I sought to emulate them as much as possible, and I have no doubt that I am not the only one.
            According to Louis Giannetti in Understanding Movies, “In short, every film has a slant, a given ideological perspective that privileges certain characters, institutions, behaviors, and motives as attractive, and downgrades an opposing set as repellent”(3). The great thing about this movie is that it does not downgrade anyone as repellent based on physical attractiveness. The message that stands out the most in Beauty and the Beast is that “True beauty lies within”. This message is recurring throughout the movie because Belle, the most beautiful woman in town falls in love with the Beast because of who he was, not what he looked like. At first, Belle did not like the Beast because he put up walls and did not let her in. However, once she got to know him she started falling for him. Even though the Beast looked like a monster on the outside, he was a prince on the inside with good intentions. This teaches children that it is more important to have a beautiful heart than a beautiful face or body. This is a form of ethos because it shows what type of character Belle truly is: a kindhearted one.
Another positive message this film sends to its audience is that it is good to do nice things for people even if you dislike them. There is one particular scene that depicts this message. In this scene, Belle is upset with the Beast and escapes into the woods and is attacked by wolves. The Beast finds out and decides to go rescue her, but ends up wounded. After Belle realizes that he sacrificed himself to save her, she takes care of his wounds. Before this happened, the Beast had been nothing but unkind to Belle, but once she saw that he did have goodness in his heart she started to have feelings for him. The Beast later thanks her by gifting her his library and inviting her to a fancy dinner and dance. The Beast did something kind for Belle and she showed kindness to him in return. This sends the message to children that if you treat others well, they are likely to respond the same way. These scenes appeal to the pathos of the audience because they are very touching and help the audience feel the love blossoming between the characters.
            A problematic message that can be interpreted from the movie is that “A good girl can change a bad guy.” Many women today are attracted to bad boys and the idea of making them better people, which rarely happens. If children are seeing this from an early age, they will probably grow up believing that they can modify people to their standards. This movie represents this idea because the Beast locks Belle up as his prisoner, screams at her and attempts to punish her by letting her starve, and Belle still overlooked all of this. This can also be representative of how both women and men let the people they love hurt them repeatedly because they cannot let go. The scenes where the Beast mistreats Belle appeal to the pathos of the audience in a negative way because it leads the audience to feel anger towards the Beast. Well, at least that is what I used to feel when I watched the film.
            Many people of all ages have watched this film because it is a Disney film, which is ethos because Disney has made many popular films giving the company credibility. The amount of people who viewed this film is a form of logos that proves it is a film that many people enjoyed. While negative messages can be found in the film, I feel that the positive messages outweigh the negative ones. In my opinion, the negative aspects are found by adults who over-analyze the film, but the film was intended to be enjoyed by children. Personally, I watched Beauty and the Beast many times as a child because it made my day better. I am certain that the negative messages did not affect the person I grew up to be in any way. 


Wall-E is a recent is recent children’s movie with many messages. It is a very entertaining movie to kids and adults but it also includes messages that adults are more likely to pick up on. The positive message in this movie is that in the future we will be living in space on enormous luxurious space ships with robots attending to all of our needs. The negative message is that humans are wasteful and are polluting the earth and if we do not stop the world will be covered in trash and we will not survive on Earth. Certainly to me the negative message outweighs the positive one. Living in space would be cool and all but the fact that our Earth would be uninhabitable does not sound very pleasing.

Wall-E starts out showing images of space along with a song saying, “out there, full of shine and full of sparkle.” It is a pleasant song that is happy in nature and causes the viewer to have a pleasant mood and a pathos appeal towards space. Then after showing marvelous Galaxies and endless stars, the camera turns towards an obviously polluted and nasty looking Earth. It then zooms into Earth, passing through layers of destroyed satellites and trash, only to enter the atmosphere to find a dusty haze. Finally what appears to be mountains come into view, however these “mountains” are actually giant piles of trash with hundreds of wind turbines surrounding them. Then nuclear plants come into view and finally what appears to be a skyline of a great city. The skyline is actually of skyscraper sized piles of trash within a large city. The piles of trash are all taller than and outnumber the actual buildings in the city.

The introduction of the movie displays the major argument in this film that humans are destroying the Earth through pollution. I think that the argument is targeted towards both children and adults. Even though adults would pick up on the argument right away, I believe kids would see a destroyed Earth and trash everywhere and connect the dots.

I think Wall-E does an excellent job at getting its message across to the viewers. The movie shoves its intended message in the face of the viewers in the opening scene so it’s kind of hard to ignore it for the remainder of the film. In turn I feel obligated to give this movie a five out of five because it is such a good movie for any age group. 

Lion King

The Lion King is a 1994 Walt Disney production directed by Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers. The universal message that the movie sends to the audience is that everything works and is balanced with in the circle of life. This “circle of life” message is introduced at the beginning of the movie when the song The Circle of Life plays in the background of the opening scene. Later, Mufasa, Simba’s Father, and Simba have a conversation:
Mufasa: Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.
Young Simba: But, Dad, don't we eat the antelope?
Mufasa: Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.
However there is also evidence of subliminal messages. One message occurs when Simba first encounters Timon and Pumba. His uncle, Scar had recently banished him from the pride land and sent him off into the beyond. When Timon and Pumba found him they taught him a new concept: hakuna matata. As stated in the movie, it means ‘no worries.’ Thus, Simba puts his worries aside about his duty to return to the pride land and claim his spot as rightful king. In Understanding Movies Louis Giannetti states, “music can serve as a kind of overture to suggest the mood or sprit of the film as a whole” (Giannetti 214). The movie depicts Simba, Timon and Pumba walking along a log singing the song Hakuna Matata.
As previously states, the term means no worries, but more than that it is a symbol of irresponsibility. In this scene we see Simba mature from a young cub to a mature lion. In living by the motto “hakuna matata,” Simba in a sense wastes his life away in meaningless matters all while avoiding his duties back in the pride lands. This could send a message to the audience that it is okay to ignore one’s duties and you needn’t worry your self about matters that do not directly concern you.
In Conclusion, The Lion King does send a good message about the circle of life in that everything works together, just as Mufasa said. However there is a underlying negative message in the movie as well. As children, we would not necessarily pick up on this but now as an adult it is easy to spot it. Therefore, I give the movie two slurpees for good messages as if paid enough attention, the audience will see this other agenda.