Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, a lot of parents were very concerned about this odd “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon and comic series. Not only was it just plain weird, but the heroes of this story practiced all kinds of violent acts that kids could imitate. With toy weapons being sold at stores around the world, it wasn’t all too surprising to see articles and news segments dedicated to making sure that adults were aware of the disturbing images that their children were seeing each day.
In the UK, local censorship laws forbid the word ninja from being used because it was deemed “too violent” for younger fans. As a result, British viewers and readers got the “Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles” instead. Unfortunately, it was an environment such as this which lead some people to make pretty ridiculous statements about the so-called threat posed by the TMNT. Some parents even forbade their children from reading the comics or watching the animated series.
Recently, Thames News decided to post rare archive footage featuring a story about a private school that took matters into their own hands. In this story, a newswoman (not unlike April O’Neil) reveals how this school crafted a lesson plan all about the “evils” of TMNT comics. Needless to say, it didn’t take long before one of the educators went so far as to compare fans of the franchise to drug addicts.
After making that statement, the teacher in question went on to make the bold claim that “nothing in the whole of human history has ever been marketed in such an effective and massive way.” To be honest, I don’t know if that was meant to be an insult or a compliment, but the merit of this argument is definitely questionable. Heck, one could easily make the claim that Star Wars had a much more effective marketing campaign.
Regardless, it’s always interesting to look back and see how parents originally reacted to the TMNT. Before you get too upset, let’s show some respect to the comic reader who shared his thoughts on the matter during the latter half of this news segment. He made several valid arguments about how Tom & Jerry were no better and violent comic books had been around for several decades at that point in history.
The reality is that our heroes in a half shell were simply a convenient scapegoat for parents desperately seeking an explanation for the behavior of their sometimes rambunctious children. Sadly, this really isn’t anything new, as older generations have always been on the lookout for something to dislike about the trends that their children follow. Heck, rock & roll music performed by artists such as The Beatles and Elvis Presley were once derided for sending a disturbing message which supposedly corrupted young minds.
Although this facet of human civilization may never fully disappear, it’s oddly satisfying to note that one of our favorite franchises was once chosen as a scapegoat for an entire generation of parents. After all, if history has proven anything, it is that these martyrs of youth are also likely to live on for years to come and inspire creators of the future to take their inventions to the next level.
It might be weird to think of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as an influential form of art, but just remember: there was a time when nobody could have foreseen the music of Chuck Berry floating through space, awaiting discovery by an alien species. Who knows? Perhaps the turtles will someday be used as an example of human ingenuity and creativity! One thing is for sure — they won’t go down in history for leading children down the path of violence and corruption.
Modern parents of turtle loving children understand something very important: the kids are alright.