Today we are pumped to have a new guest contributor in Jonathan Schneck. Jonathan is the Director of New Media Innovations for the ACLJ/BeHeardProject. He is the non-touring, semi retired, guitarist for the Grammy Nominated band Relient K. He has a Marketing Degree from Liberty University and lives in Nashville, TN, with his wife and three children. He is also the first contributor to The Wise Guise with a verified Twitter account.
Mr. Bay, sir, do you really have to ‘transform’ everything? Even their faces? I’ll come back to this…
I remember the day that I realized they were gone. I realized a part of me was gone. I hadn’t even moved out of the house yet and they were already gone. I never had my Andy and Woody front porch bequeathing session. They were just gone. Why did it matter so much? How could I even hurt like this? Why do teenagers nearing independence need their childhood toys? But then again, my Ninja Turtles were always more than just toys. I can remember finding myself as a little kid; parents having just split up, leaving my normal housing arrangement, moving to a new school, not knowing what to do. It was around this time that a new animated cartoon came out with peculiar talking turtles. For all intents and purposes, this show should have gone the way of the buffalo, but little kids just like me turned it into the biggest thing since sliced pizza. With the show came merchandise, and I had found my new confidants.
It isn’t easy to express yourself as a little kid going through immense life changes, but Leo, Mikey, Donny, and Raph gave me the ability to have therapeutic role playing sessions with four friends that I was sure would never blab our conversations. They provided me something to be “into,” and some stability in my life. Every day I knew that if nothing else, I could turn the dial at 3:30 PM and the Turtles would be there waiting on me. The Turtles were my friends. So when I realized that my toys were gone, a spring-cleaning inevitability, a chapter in my life had closed.
The first time I walked into my son’s room and overheard him weaving in real-life scenarios into his toy play, a thousand memories rushed back into my head. I remembered being his age and talking to my little plastic friends about the things that I felt too nervous to talk to anyone else about. I remembered how important that this is for a kid. I saw myself in this moment. To my delight, he was doing this with the same little green fellows that I did it with at his age. I had found the connection that I was looking for with my son. It was a moment I’ll cherish.
My son and I use the Turtles to relate. No matter what, there is always a chase figure, a new vehicle, an eBay auction, a new episode on Nickelodeon, and now, a new live action movie. When life gets crazy, we can always slow down and talk about their adventures. My son has a habit of prolonging bedtime by asking me questions he knows I want to answer. I’ll say good night and he will ask me, “Did you have a Cockroach Terminator when you were a kid,” or “can you believe that Karai is really Splinter’s daughter?” He knows how to pull me into his world, and I crawl into his bed and we will discuss these things of utmost importance well past his bedtime.
With this (unrequested dive into the historical nooks and crannies of my life) in mind, here are three reasons why I am beyond excited for the new TMNT movie.
1) You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes, you get what you need.
We all want green spray-painted foam heads on top of martial artists bodies, blindly kicking about, but were not going to get that in the mo-cap society that we live in. I want Kevin Clash to puppeteer something and I want Splinter to have a Japanese accent. I don’t know what this movie will ultimately be (I’m trying to stay away from plot points until it opens), but I know that what I’m getting is a massive Hollywood blockbuster with the Ninja Turtles as the stars. That makes me happy.
2) New merchandising, now with weird noses.
So the new Turtles look really odd. So what? Let’s be honest here. The original animated Turtles were a huge departures from Eastman and Laird’s initial design. I am sure that the die-hard fans of the original book thought the same thing that most everyone is thinking now. Things change. So what? My six-year-old son is free from the historical baggage of years with the other designs and he thinks the new toys looks amazing. I will never forget the look on his face the first time he saw the display for the new toys at our local retailer. I’m not saying Michael Bay is right to go mess with a perfectly good mutated face, but I have grown quite fond of the new renderings, and I am pretty excited to collect the new toys (for my son).
3) From Dimension X to Gen Z
The best part of this movie will be a whole new generation of kids getting into the Ninja Turtles. I know, it’s hard for kids to not hear about the Turtles with the widely popular Nick cartoon, but this will definitely help solidify TMNT as a brand that has real staying power and will be here for many years to come.
Is it weird for a 32 year old to still play with toys? Probably. But for me, the Turtles are more than just toys.
They take me back to a moment in time. They help me connect with my son. For this reason, I am greatly excited about the new Turtles movie. I really don’t care if Bay is pushing the envelope in new story lines and designs. What matters to me is that this franchise will be here for the next generation of kids to cling onto. The Turtles will be here for my son to talk with when he is lonely at night, an experience we will share some thirty years apart. Bring on the popcorn and weird noses.