Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
13 Nov 2016 21:29 #10926
Growing up I was a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The catchy theme song, the corny jokes, ninja action, and of course, pizza. It appealed to me in every way as a child, except that I was a girl. I didn’t identify with the reporter April, I identified with the turtles depending on whatever easily identifiable mood I was in. Michelangelo was funny and goofy. Raphael was moody and often lost his temper. The other two were usually the brains behind the operation and dealt with logistics, mostly corralling the opposing forces of Mikey and Raph. In fact, the foot soldiers, villains, and monsters were all male. The only female character was April who was a hard-working news journalist attempting to be taken seriously. More often, April functioned as the object of lust for all of the boys. The obvious crushes the turtles had made for awkward and funny comic relief. April usually showed up to bring the guys pizza or to tell them of someone needing rescuing. April herself was often the damsel in distress when she got caught up in covering the action. When the cartoon TMNT was turned into a series of movies with actors playing the turtles, the playful flirting became decidedly more adult-oriented and disturbing. The humanization of the turtles as randy teenagers with only April to project their lust onto made April little more than a sex object. The whole concept of “boys will be boys” behavior became a theme of the movies – the guys needed to be constantly fighting, although using ninja moves as a more civilized type of violence to be palatable for parents, and catcalling April. Looking back, I don’t know how I loved a show that blatantly ignored and insulted women. Like many female fans, I identified with the boys and was able to tune out the misogyny for the sake of popular entertainment. I still do the same thing with gangsta rap music. The popularity of the show has allowed it to be repackaged as a new cartoon many times over. I have not watched recent episodes but i would be curious to know if the writers have evolved April's character or expanded the main cast to feature a wider variety of gender representation.
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