Wherein Ian Delves Into Sexism in Media, OR Why the Pilot Episode of TMNT (2012) is Highly Problematic

octubre 4, 2012 at 3:05 am (Animation, Comic Books, Commentary, Fat Hatred, Film, Homophobia, Racism, sexism, The kyriarchy, Videogames & Vidcons) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

(Content Note: Objectification of women.  Abstract descriptions of racism, fat hatred, dehumanization.  Words…so many words.)

So I wrote about my thoughts on the first two issues of Nickelodeon’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show. Then I went to The Technodrome.com, home of the largest TMNT fan community on the web, and shared my opinions in their forums there, particularly those on how disappointed I was at what I considered their treatment of April O’Neil sexist.

The comments were not particularly well received. This was not particularly surprising.

As someone who’s been part of the board for years, my impression of the TMNT fandom as represented by the board—and people there can correct me if I’m wrong–is that when it comes to gender, a vocal plurality of the believes that the status quo is acceptable, that a work is not sexist if there’s at least one woman in it who is not “useless” and/or can kick ass in some way, and that it’s a subject that never needs to be brought up ever, lest Venus de Milo be suddenly legitimized as a character. Or something.

As a feminist, I disagree. As both a fan of the TMNT and someone who believes that sexism helps makes works worse than they would otherwise be, I have an interest in doing what I can to help make it not be that way anymore.

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Wherein I judge the first two episodes of Nick’s TMNT

septiembre 30, 2012 at 2:03 am (Reviews, sexism, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

When I first began hearing news about the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon–this one produced by Nickelodeon–I wasn’t sure what to think.  While I was skeptical of the idea that it would win my heart the way the previous TMNT series did, several of the ideas seemed intriguing, and the direction of the toon didn’t seem like a bad one to go with.  Plus, with it being backed by Nickelodeon, there was no way it wasn’t going to have the best production values of any of the series to date.

The show’s two-part pilot “Rise of the Turtles” aired today, introducing the turtles, Splinter, April, and the two groups who appear to be the main antagonists for the immediate future, the Kraang and The Foot.  Given that the franchise has historically had very good first episodes, this version had a lot to live up to, and while it doesn’t quite succeed in that regard, it has enough interesting bits to keep me watching, at least for a while.

If we were to measure the series on a scale from A to 10, where A is the original comic book and 10 is the original cartoon, this incarnation probably rates a nine.  It takes a lot of liberties with the original material, some of them intriguing—Splinter was a father before he ever met the turtles (*), the Utroms are now The Kraang and have identical-looking human disguises and an amusingly stilted speech patterns—and some which I’m not at all sure work—April is now the turtles’ age. It’s also far more focused on being a funny show than it is in being an exciting or emotionally complex show, although shows like Adventure Time have taught me that initial impressions can be misleading. In any case, what it does it does reasonably well; all in all, it feels like a worthwhile incarnation of the series—moreso than the IDW comics, anyway.

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Review: “TMNT Micro-Series #7: April” (Spoilers)

septiembre 18, 2012 at 12:15 am (Comic Books, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Publisher: IDW


Writer: Barbara Randall Kesel


Art: Marley Zarcone


Colors: Heather Breckel


Cover: David Petersen (Main), Marley Zarcone (Variant)


Suggested Audiences: People who really like the idea of other turtles, I guess.


Despite my overall disappointment with the series, I had reason to hope that TMNT Micro-Series: April would satisfy: not only did it star one of my favorite characters in the franchise, it featured a story by Barbara Randall Kesel (*), whose Meridian I thought was an underrated gem.  Plus, as a one-shot, it was almost certain to be better-paced than the main book.  And upon reading it, I discovered that… well, those three things are certainly true.

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On the first year of IDW’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

septiembre 14, 2012 at 8:02 pm (Comic Books, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

A cropped version of the cover for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-series Vol. 1”

One year in, IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has featured ninjas, brain-like aliens, corporate espionage, reincarnation, eyepatch-wearing mutant cats, and attractive women who are sensibly clad and plausibly posed. It is also incredibly boring.

To say that something feels like fan fiction is not, I feel, a particularly useful description. It´s generally used when somebody wants to criticize a work and wants to pretend that there is no such thing as awesome fan fiction. (*) Instead, I’ll say that Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman have taken elements from past incarnations of the property and redeployed them with what appears to be little concern of what made them work.  It’s as if they believe that merely using them will be enough to satisfy the audiences, regardless of execution.

Thus, the series has taken characters and plotlines from what came before it, it has not replicated what made any of them appealing. It strives to replicate the original comic book’s tone, but feels too safe to successfully replicate its grit. It takes several of the characters and concepts created for the original cartoon, but strips their appeal in trying to make them viable as “serious” characters (*). It lacks the original movie’s affability and wit, or its sense of time and place. It feels less audacious than the Archie comics, and less ambitious than the second cartoon. There’s little in the way of notable moments or quotable lines—heck, even the notoriously inconsistent second Tales of the TMNT series was at least always interesting.

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Repost: On arguments against including gay characters in Ninja Turtles comics.

mayo 4, 2012 at 9:38 pm (Stuff) (, , , , , , , )

Note: This was originally posted on my Ninja Turtles-themed blog Monsters of New York, hence the general lack of context about characters and concepts.  If anybody would like some additional information about just what the heck I’m talking about, feel free to ask.



On The Technodrome.com’s thread on the latest issue of the current TMNT comic, a discussion sprung up over the possibility of revealing that a particular character was gay in this latest incarnation of the franchise. As my contribution, I noted that given that as far as I knew, no a character in the turtles’ quarter-century history has ever been identified as gay* or as any of the other letters in the QUILTBAG** blanket, and that I really wished that this newest incarnation could include some—possibly someone like Baxter Stockman or Karai, who are historically major characters and whose sexualities hadn’t been established yet in this version of their tale. I found the general response…dismaying.

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Review: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (Vol. 6) #1

agosto 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm (Comic Books) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Publisher: IDW

Story: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz

Script: Tom Waltz

Layouts: Kevin Eastman

Art: Dan Duncan

Colors: Ronda Pattison

Release Date: August 24, 2011

Cover: Various, and I refuse to name them all.

Recommended Audiences: People who like the Ninja Turtles and wondered what that part at the end of Turtles Forever was all about.

(Warning: Substantial spoilers ahead, particularly if you’re a Mirage fan who’s reading to find out what has changed.)

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