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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows movie review: shell schlock

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows red light

Leaden and witless, though it obviously believes there is humor in its loud, chaotic juvenility. It would be an insult to cartoons to call this cartoonish.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Apparently the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, when they debuted way back in the 1980s, were intended as a parody of superhero comics. I picked up this tidbit from the TMNT wikipedia page. I did not absorb it through some sort of cinematic osmosis while watching the new TMNT movie, Out of the Shadows. That would have been impossible. Whatever the truth of the long-ago comic-book Turtles, there is absolutely nothing that marks them as satirical here. (This may also be true of the 2014 movie that rebooted this franchise, but I have so far managed to avoid that one. If only that had been the case this time as well.) If a kid bitten by a radioactive spider who develops superpowers is meant to be taken seriously, then why not brother turtles mutated into anthropomorphic form and trained in the martial arts? How is the former perfectly reasonable but the latter ludicrous? If a rich vigilante with a secret underground lair who takes inspiration from bats is offered sincerely, then what’s so outrageous about turtle heroes who dwell in urban tunnels and take advice from a rat sensei?

Even a tiny inkling of the absurdity of all such stories could carry a movie like this on a merry path, but there is not a lick of wit to be found heretweet (unless you think spitballs and farts are amusing). Shadows is downright leaden, though it obviously believes there is humor in its loud, chaotic juvenility. It would be an unfair insult to cartoons to call this cartoonish; better to say that it fails to even rise to that level. Simply embracing hoary clichés — the brothers are not only divvied up into the leader, the muscle, the brains, and the goofball, they also argue about how one-dimensional they are — does not constitute comedic commentary. Most tedious of all, though, are the samey-same sci-fi action blockbuster shenanigans that howl for a seemingly endless two hours. Screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec — who perpetrated the appallingly bad American Life on Mars TV show — and director Dave Green steal bits of story, visuals, and sometimes even entire sequences from the likes of Ghostbusters and Independence Day, Avengers and The Dark Knight. And not in any amusing or knowing way. Not in any way that is the least bit surprising or unexpected. (The whole wormhole-over-Manhattan thing has been done to death.) It’s all depressingly familiar and conventional. (Green’s only previous feature is 2014’s tired E.T.+Goonies mashup Earth to Echo. His second flick is just as exhausted.)

It’s tough to even know whom this movie aimed at. It’s too long and confusing for children, and it sexes up poor Megan Fox (The Dictator, Friends with Kids), as the turtles’ human sidekick, in a way that is inappropriate for young eyes. Yet its plot — about a sort of Predator-Dalek hybrid alien who wants to take over Earth for the usual reasons (ie, no plausible ones) — plays like the script was written by an eight-year-oldtweet. Indeed, the creepy anthropomorphized titular turtles — they’ve got the minds of doofy adolescents, the bodies of adult human bodybuilders (except for the green skin), and the faces of sluggish reptiles, all courtesy of CGI — come across as a child’s idea of what being a grownup must be like: all pizza parties and hanging out in your own cool hidden clubhouse. When you’re not fighting aliens with your ninja powers, of course. Some junk just makes no sense, as in the opening scene, in which the turtles scale the Chrysler Building only so that they can then jump off it (like, for fun?). Or the bit in which the movie derails itself, detouring into a tangent for a joke that isn’t even funny during a sequence in which time is meant to be of the essence.

Then there’s the bizarre soundtrack, on which classic-rock tunes pop up and fade in and out no reason, with no connection to what’s happening on the screen. (Are there half-off sales in music licensing, perhaps? Did Green get a bargain on some tunes and simply didn’t care if they actually worked in context? It’s the only even halfway sensible explanation.)

And then there is — *sob* — the bewildering presence of Laura Linney (Mr. Holmes, The Fifth Estate) as a dour law-enforcement officer and stick-in-the-mud foil to the fun-loving turtles. It’s a role that is not only thankless but apparently completely unnecessary: the wretched spectacle of Linney’s debasement aside, I cannot figure out what purpose her character serves. She literally did not have to be here.

I will be lighting a candle for Linney, and praying that her paycheck was a very large one.


red light 1.5 stars

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)
US/Can release: Jun 03 2016
UK/Ire release: May 30 2016

MPAA: rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
BBFC: rated 12A (moderate action violence)

viewed in 3D
viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • bronxbee

    when my nephews were small, and reading the comic book, then watching the tv show, i thought it weird, but harmless … (and the kids learned the names of Renaissance artists!) and when the first 1990 Turtle movie came out it was really goofy, but mildly amusing for an adult. my nephews (now grown) have said the last few TMNT movies are just “robbing their childhood”. i have never been tempted to see any of the new ones now that i don’t have to chaperone small boys. just cannot figure out if the TMNT really are popular among the smaller set, or if these are just for those who were fans in the 80s/90s.

  • samg

    Some argue the original Eastman & Laird TMNT comics are a good natured spoof of the popular comics of the day whereas others argue within is scathing critique of the “dark” nature of those same comics.

    Interestingly both creators in the past have denied this and to this day (or more precisely the last time he was publicly asked) one still holds to this while the other flits between answered that can probably be summed up as “it kinda was and kinda wasn’t”.

    As a fan of the Mirage comic series TMNT was not a parody so much as had small elements that paid homage to Eastman and Laird’s favorite comic book in a lightly humorous way. That’s not to say that the original turtles comics were the best comics ever made but they were entertaining and what is seldom mentioned is that they did improve. I would put the best TMNT comics from both Eastman and Laird as well the other creators they let have a stab at the comics up with some of the best Batman or Spider-Man stories.

    It will be forever a confusion to me why equally ludicrous concepts like most found in the output of the big two comic companies have cinematic adaptions that have at least semi serious executions while the suggestion the same should be true of this franchise is met with guffaws. Many fans argue the fault lies at the door of the very 1980s animated series which launched the turtles in to the mainstream however TMNT isn’t the first characters to have goofy tv show made about them or even one that had said show propel them to popularity. No one excuses flaws in Batman movies because the concept was played deliberately silly decades ago.

  • EarnestJohn

    Just got back from seeing it here in the UK and you are totally wrong in every aspect off your review. The film is actually one of the best films released this year, it is funny , it is very exciting and action packed all the way through. The whole family will enjoy it, not too sure what you where going on with the whole inappropriate Megan Fox scene which lasts all off 5 minutes, kids see more sexier stuff on tv.

  • Chris Burge

    What a shitty review.

  • The Amazing Skeptic

    This review is incredibly conceited and based in the author’s ignorance, not fact. Please anyone within the space of this text avoid taking this article seriously. As the author is obviously not serious about their job.

  • Albert Belle

    Yeah pretty much what I expected. Big, loud really stupid and people jumping to defend this garbage with ‘You are wrong and stupid. It is fun and great and you don’t know what you are talking about Not sure how any one can defend this rubbish when their a perfectly good series on Nick to watch.

    And what is the funniest part is how people run online to poke holes in things like Avengers and Civil War but tell you to ignore the shit these movies do. ‘Why didn’t Captain America and Iron Man work it out’ ‘Why did Vision do this and not that?’ ‘Why did Winter Soldier run left instead of right. But ask any thing about the dumb things Transformers and Turtles do and it’s ‘Shut up and enjoy the movie. Hurry for bias and stupidity’

  • Scott Newman

    This reviewer was clearly not a fan of the original cartoon! Otherwise a lot of this would have hit home and made more sense for them.

    That is who it is aimed at, the original fans and the new young ones.it felt like the 80s cartoon, like for like, even with the music! And they played the original theme!! And because of that it all helped to make this film brilliant, but brilliant only for tmnt fans.

  • Jurgan

    I was a huge fan of the original cartoon. I haven’t seen this movie, but I saw the last one and did not like it at all. The characters were bland and annoying, and the mythology was forced in a way that made no sense.

  • Jurgan

    The most obvious point of parody is that Daredevil fights The Hand while the turtles fight The Foot. I never read the comics, but I was a huge fan of the 80’s show. The thing is that, while as an adult I can see how much silliness there is, as a kid I took it completely seriously. And some of the better stuff from that era, especially the first live action movie, hold up very well because they took themselves seriously. There was goofy comedy, but they weren’t embarrassed by their concept. The last movie seemed like it didn’t want to embrace the concept, and elements like ninjutsu were forced into the story simply because they were unavoidable. This one looks like it’s going in the opposite direction, throwing in every recognizable character and concept from the 80’s without any deeper reason.

    I think the word “pander” is overused, but I don’t see any other way to describe the “everything a fan would want” trailer. I’m a fan, and I want a good story that has fun with itself but isn’t embarrassed by itself. The Avengers knew it was a silly premise, but it believed in its characters and so the audience did, too. The 80’s TMNT movie had scenes like the turtles contemplating what life would be like without Splinter, and then crying as their surrogate father tells them how much he loves them and how proud he is of them, plus some very plausible stuff about teenagers being drawn into gangs out of a need to belong. Michael Bay is solely about the big, flashy moments and fanservice without even trying to earn an emotional connection.

  • Jurgan

    There are kids who are into more modern incarnations of TMNT. However, by heavily advertising Bebop, Rocksteady, and Krang, who were mostly in the 80’s show, it’s clear they’re mainly targeting the nostalgia crowd.

  • Scott Newman

    Yeah, I was talking about the new film. the second one feels really detached from the first, and very different. It felt, for me, like a reboot as the feeling was so different and a lot more cartoony. I feel as if they’ve made the second feel like the 80s cartoon to try and win people over from the first. although I didn’t mind the first film, out of the shadows is what feels like my 80s cartoon, more or less.

  • Jurgan

    I have no doubt they’re trying to imitate the 80’s-90’s cartoon with this movie, but I don’t imagine they did a good job. TMNT has had many different incarnations, and I don’t consider any of them sacred. The point is to make a good film. My reasons for disliking the last one had nothing to do with fanboy stuff or changing too much, so I doubt them invoking my childhood nostalgia will make me like this one any better.

  • Scott Newman

    It’s by no means s good film, at all. But it’s fun, and moreso if you were a fan of the cartoon. It’s worth watching and deciding for yourself. For me the first two thirds of the film were good, albeit slightly rushed at points, and the last felt like it was back to being some generic film. But I can overlook that as I just found it thoughtless fun

  • BAK

    How was Stephen Amell as Casey?

  • This reviewer was clearly not a fan of the original cartoon!

    When commenters refer to me in the third person like this, I always want to respond, “A girl has no name.”

  • A girl has no name…

  • Such eloquence, sir! You have convinced me of the error of my ways. Astonishing.

  • The film is actually one of the best films released this year,

    How many of this year’s movies have you seen?

  • “robbing their childhood”

    I never understand this. It’s like saying a bad film adaptation has ruined a favorite book. But that book still exists. The cartoon of your nephews’ childhood still exists: they can still watch it if they want to.

  • Jezza

    I’m curious of this too. I watched the film yesterday, it’s easily the worst Turtles movie put to film, I was so disappointed leaving the cinema.

  • Danielm80

    Try reading a fairy tale or children’s story to your nephew and being told you “got it wrong” because it doesn’t match the Disney version.

    When I was in third grade, I dressed up as Harry Houdini. I had to give an oral report on his life. When I got to the end of the report, I tried to explain how “I” had died. No one believed me. A few kids had seen a bad movie about Houdini, and they kept insisting he got stuck in a tank of water during a show and couldn’t escape.

    Now, I’m not saying that this movie or the new Ghostbusters actually takes away somebody’s childhood. That’s obviously ridiculous. But I sympathize with the people who believe that. Movies have real power. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t love them so much. I supported the Where are the Women? project because I believe the way women are represented onscreen affects the real world. So I can roll my eyes at some of the outraged people on this thread, but I don’t dismiss them completely, because movies are important.

  • RogerBW

    As Danielm80 said, when everyone you talk to has a different idea of the story, that’s one way in which it’s spoiled. Another way is that, even if one never watches Alien III again, one knows it’s “what happens next” after Aliens, and that taints one’s enjoyment of the film – or one just rejects the idea of a fictional continuity and treats the works as works rather than as something into which one can immerse oneself. True for me, anyway; may not apply to other people.
    Even so I still have little sympathy with claims that something “ruins one’s childhood”. I ranted about this at greater length on my blog last year.

  • lazyintellect

    Is the new PPG any good?

  • Beowulf

    How can a review be wrong if it is expressing an opinion rather a fact? If you say chocolate ice cream is best flavor and I say strawberry is, then–according to your thinking–you are wrong and I am right because I have set you straight.

  • PPG?

  • Scott Newman

    Ok. That’s a little bit defensive. Truth is i couldn’t be bothered to scroll up the page and reread the name of whoever wrote this, with a phone that was playing up, at 4am. Nothing to do with gender :). But I appreciate implication that im a misogynist and because i didn’t write a name it MUST be to do with gender. I wonder if you’d have had the same response if a woman wrote that? – Im actually a huge feminist, so slightly insulted with that defensive implication.

  • amanohyo

    lazyintellect is assuming from your avatar that you are a Powerpuff Girls fan. I’m not familiar with the new series, but it has been poorly received by most fans of the original show.

  • Danielm80

    So you don’t watch Game of Thrones then?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgXlQlOrSx8

    Here’s a quote from The Simpsons:

    Senile, am I? Bony arms, are they? Buck-toothed, is it? Liver spots, did they? Chinless, will you?

  • odum

    Heh.

  • Pinkk

    I’d say the reason why one story can be taken seriously and the other can’t lies with the director/writers and maybe even the actors.

    Look at the first Spider-Man trilogy. The director/writers couldn’t take it serious that Peter Parker could be a genius who created his own webbing device as well as have the powers, so they made his webbing be natural (which seemed fine until they had him lose his powers because “I feel bad” :p)

    I do feel that taking the movie seriously (not to say the movie has to be serious) is what will make for a longer lasting, never forgotten movie.

  • lazyintellect

    Power Puff Girls
    nevermind

  • bronxbee

    i am just using the trite phrase that is bandied about these days. they know the originals are there whenever they want them. i think it just bewilders them that the new incarnations are so bad or so different from their original heroes on the half shell.

  • Syifa Jamur

    (y) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows FULL MOVIE 2016

    (y) imgur.com/Jv5Xmfs

    thank :* (y)

  • Jurgan

    The ironic thing is that the “originals” they are defending were themselves adaptations, and at the time many fans of the comicbooks complained the cartoon was too campy and ruined the originals.

  • Jurgan

    Don’t promote piracy on this blog. Please delete this link before the moderator has to do it for you.

  • Jurgan

    There’s nothing wrong with saying you like it as goofy fun. However, two posts ago you said it was “brilliant.” Which is it?

  • Jurgan

    Five minutes is very long for a sexual scene.

  • Jurgan

    Well, at least they use the word “ruins” and not a different five letter word starting with “r.”

  • because i didn’t write a name it MUST be to do with gender.

    I’m not sure how you got that “implication,” but it had nothing to do with that.

  • Okay, so that’s a *total* non sequitur to bring up midthread on a post that has nothing to do with that. And I haven’t seen the show, so I can’t tell you. Sorry.

  • lazyintellect is assuming from your avatar that you are a Powerpuff Girls fan.

    I honestly thought this was a reference to some aspect of TMNT, because what else would it be in this thread?

  • The bit we’re both referring to isn’t five minutes long. But it is a completely inappropriate “sexy” pan up Fox’s body, which is most definitely not the sort of thing that belongs in a movie supposedly for kids. And it’s not the sort of thing that kids see in kids’ TV shows.

  • Danielm80

    And this has turned into the new popcorn thread. LaSargenta will be so happy.

    I think all the regular subscribers should team up and invent a new medal, so we can award it to MaryAnn.

  • The Amazing Skeptic

    No, I don’t respect you as an individual let alone a woman.

  • …because she gave a lazy cash-in on the TMNT a bad review?

  • I have to say, I agree almost entirely with the first paragraph there, though maybe not for the same reasons.

    I’ve always wondered why people seem to settle or expect so much less from TMNT media, especially in the Superhero Movie Era. I mean, we’re willing to look at Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Captain America as characters who can be compelling and taken seriously despite springing from equally silly concepts, we can love a talking raccoon and living tree in GotG, but the idea of the Turtles and Splinter being anything more than a source of childish comedy is looked at like some sort of alien.

    These guys can be so much more than this, even from the most basic of film standards, but especially given the source material available. The current run comic from IDW has some of the best storytelling out there for an ongoing series, each character with their own traits, personality, struggles, flaws. They make them feel like real, fleshed-out characters. Then you look at these movies and people actually defend them as “the most you can realistically expect of this franchise”.

    I don’t get it, honestly, and don’t know why they reward filmmakers who clearly don’t care, But that’s life, I guess.

  • Owen1120

    At least you weren’t watching this Turtles movie…
    https://youtu.be/rGipOggNbyw

  • bronxbee

    i suppose all that’s true. i myself do not have any particular attachment to the TMNT except for the fond memories of my boys. i also created one of the first homemade TMNT halloween costumes – the one kid wore it three years in a row, then the manufactured ones came out. they can make TMNT movies, new tv shows and costumes until the end of time for all of me… good, bad or indifferent.

  • LaSargenta

    Except I ate ice cream and now my stomach aches.

    But, yeah. TOTAL popcorn thread.

  • amanohyo

    I thought the question might lead to some kind of point about reboots of childhood cartoons never living up to the memories of the originals which would be sort of on topic, but I guess it was only polite small talk after all.

    Dave Green is in his early 30’s, so I hoped that his fond memories of the TMNT cartoon would result in a more carefully crafted product than Bay’s previous generic effort. So far, it sounds as though there is a lot more fan service, but the same general lack of quality in the writing. The poor use of music is particularly surprising from a former music video director.

    I remember the pilot series of the cartoon being fairly gritty and dark for ten year old me, but the show rapidly descended into standard toy-advertising, childish goofiness. I watched it mostly as homework background noise, although Leatherhead’s over the top Cajun accent (and ridiculous crocodile dundee outfit) consistently cracked me up.

    Was there anything at all in this movie that made you crack a smile or chuckle? So fat the only solid defense that has been offered is that it is funny in the stupid thoughtless way that the 80’s cartoon was.

  • Danielm80

    I thought PPG meant that “lazyintellect” wanted a PowerPoint grid comparing and contrasting all the different incarnations of the Turtles, and ranking which character is sexiest.

  • RogerBW

    Well, obviously Vázquez the Elder.

  • CB

    You know it was quite a few decades ago but I still recall doing exercises in lower elementary school called “fact or opinion”, where we would have to say whether a statement was a claim about objective reality (whether true or not), or a subjective expression of a person’s preference or feelings. E.g. “Cats are domesticated felines” vs “Cats are better pets than dogs”.

    I’m not sure if your post was just the usual hyperbolic nonsense or if educational standards have really dropped that much, but I’m quite sure that the things in the review you object to are not the facts.

  • I didn’t laugh once.

  • amanohyo

    Not even once? I definitely won’t watch this then. The writers of both of the modern TMNT films are a pair of childhood friends who also wrote the screenplay for Ghost Protocol which I thought was good – although I think the laughs in that one came from the performances and effects rather than the script.

    Appelbaum also wrote the screenplay for the upcoming Beverley Hills Cop 4, which is being directed by everyone’s favorite talentless douchenozzle Brett Ratner. I know pointing out the fact that Hollywood (and the financial sector) continues to be run by a network of wealthy white Jewish dudes is “problematic,” but even taking historical context into consideration, the disproportionality is kind of ridiculous.

    At this point, we’ve recorded the wealthy white Jewish male perspective on every possible aspect of humanity, even teenage mutant, non-humanity. Would it be possible to instate some kind of gentile writers affirmative action policy in California without being sued for religious discriminati… wait, all the best law firms are Jewish too, damn it, always two steps ahead!

    /antisemitsm

  • Danielm80

    Sometimes the line between satire and douchery is really thin. I think you’ve crossed it.

  • Bluejay

    Amanohyo, I generally enjoy your posts, but this isn’t the first time you’ve made this kind of statement, which suggests it may be an ongoing concern for you. As you admit in a different comment, you make these connections “hopefully more out of general boredom than pure Antisemitism, although there is a sprinkling of the latter too. I’ll own it.

    You’re free to make these comments, and MaryAnn is free to do with them what she will, but I have to say this is a side of you I don’t like to see.

  • amanohyo

    I know it makes people uncomfortable, but I have to be honest. When I discover that a Jewish person has written yet another greenlit script, it’s kind of annoying.

    As I say every time this topic comes up, I understand that Jews are not a monolithic, conspiratorial group. Brett Ratner is not a douchenozzle because he is Jewish, he earned that title all on his own. These new TMNT movies are not horrible because they were written by Jewish people – some of my favorite screenplays were written by Jews (oh my goodness, did I just pull out the ‘some of my best friends are black’ defence? =). In all seriousness, I voted for Sanders, ironically the most Jesus-like of all the candidates but that’s another story.

    I also understand that Jewish male ubiquity in certain industries is primarily due to ancient attitudes towards usury, the fact that they were historically denied access to many jobs, and a culture that encourages literacy and abstract thinking and various other historical and cultural factors.

    Jews also win a disproportionately large number of Nobel prizes, so perhaps some aspect of Jewish culture produces better systematic critical thought? Being outsiders with large families could lead to a better grasp of comedy and an improved ability to capture a variety of perspectives via performance and the written word (although apparently not in this film).

    All that said, the simple fact is that a certain type of perspective is ludicrously overrepresented in popular culture, and I don’t see how that’s a good thing. The solution is not to silence Jewish voices, but rather to encourage and support other voices and provide them with the opportunities to succeed. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen nearly enough with the current crop of producers and film investors (who also happen to be disproportionately Jewish), and it makes me kinda angry… and jealous… and moderately anti-semitic.

    Maybe almost all of the best pilot scripts and screenplays really are written by Jewish people? Maybe the people holding the purse strings are also more likely to back a story coming from a person that shares some aspects of their culture? Maybe a gentile writer has just as good a chance as anyone other writer of roughly equivalent experience, gender, and talent to successfully convince investors to transform a cartoon from their childhood into a multimillion dollar movie series? I don’t know the whole truth, but I do know that the truth is, like Raphael, not only cool but also occasionally crude (wow, I set up the perfect opening line for a rebuttal).

  • Danielm80

    There have been theories about Jews controlling Hollywood, or the banking industry, or some other cabal, floating around for generations. Over the past few decades, it’s been rare to hear people say that sort of bigoted crap in public, even if they still believe it. However, as the culture wars have heated up again, I’ve started seeing blatant, undisguised anti-Semitism all over the Internet. I’d prefer not to see it on this website, too. You’re too thoughtful and intelligent a person to believe this sort of garbage.

  • Are you kidding? Has your Disqus account been hacked?

    It is purely your standing as a longtime commenter here that is stopping me from instantly deleting this comments and others in this thread.

  • Bluejay

    some of my favorite screenplays were written by Jews (oh my goodness, did I just pull out the ‘some of my best friends are black’ defence?

    Yes. Yes you did.

    the simple fact is that a certain type of perspective is ludicrously overrepresented in popular culture

    And that perspective has nothing to do with being Jewish.

    it makes me kinda angry… and jealous… and moderately anti-semitic.

    Do you even realize what you sound like? Do you also look at the sports and music industries, and say “Wow, there’s a predominant number of successful black people in sports and pop music — and it makes me kinda angry and jealous and moderately racist“?

    What’s frustrating and fascinating is that some of your sentences and paragraphs are entirely reasonable — but you don’t seem to make the connection that it makes your self-confessed anti-Semitism entirely untenable.

    Fucking hell, amanohyo.

  • Bluejay

    You’re too thoughtful and intelligent a person to believe this sort of garbage.

    Apparently not.

  • Yeah, I don’t want this garbage on my site, either.

  • I understand that Jews are not a monolithic, conspiratorial group.

    Then maybe stop talking like you think they are.

  • LaSargenta

    The statistical argument is probably not going to gain any traction with this emotional…

    You do realise that…

    Ah, fuck it. I am not up to making a rational, polite response. Let me just drop that I — for one — am actually pretty happy to see this shit written out. I like to know EXACTLY what I’m dealing with.

    Smarmy. Smarmy semi-erudite sarcasm with just enough leavening of rational sentence construction that there’s the dark wiggle room of It’s Just A Joke, Can’t U Take A Joke, But I’m Just Being Honest, defensive line.

    Please take a step back and Check Yourself.

  • amanohyo

    Shoot, I just found out that the actual line is “Raphael is cool but rude,” not crude. My whole life has been a lie. It still kinda works though because I was both crude and rude in my off topic observations.

    You also are a thoughtful and intelligent person, and I apologize for perpetuating ancient stereotypes. That was not my intent. I certainly remember taking offense when people assumed my academic successes were due entirely to the fact that I was asian. I’ll keep my antisemitic tendencies in check in the future.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    No, it’s not the first time.

  • David C-D

    Wow – thanks for your service to humanity. Though I have not seen the new TMNT movie, I doubt it contains anything as funny as that.

  • amanohyo

    Nope, it’s me. =) Thank you for your lenience, although I was really of hoping someone would open their message of condemnation with “Gimme a break!” I guess I could have done a better job setting it up.

    This reminds me of that time when I stood up for the intelligence and independent spirit of Sarah Palin, and we all know who turned out to be correct on that one… heheh, wait bad example.

    The overrepresentation of white, straight males in the writing room limits the types of stories that are told and the ways in which they are told. I’ll stop there and agree to disagree on any additional highly charged adjectives such as teenage, mutant, and/or Chelonian.

  • Bluejay

    I guess I could have done a better job setting it up.

    There’s really no “better way” to set up anti-Semitism.

    that time when I stood up for the intelligence and independent spirit of Sarah Palin, and we all know who turned out to be correct on that one… heheh, wait bad example.

    Sarah Palin’s idiocy has nothing to do with her being a woman. Just as the overrepresentation of the straight white male perspective has nothing to do with the writers being Jews.

    And it should be noted that even though MaryAnn points out the problems with that overrepresentation, she NEVER says that it makes her “moderately misandrist,” the way you say it makes you “moderately anti-Semitic.” Criticizing an overrepresented viewpoint is miles away from claiming hatred of a people.

    It still boggles me that you would freely confess to anti-Semitism and openly apply that term to yourself. Surely you’re aware that you’re aligning yourself with a conception that is universally understood as pure hateful bigotry, with a reprehensible and ugly history to match. That you deliberately call yourself anti-Semitic suggests you’re too deeply entrenched to be convinced otherwise. If that’s the case, then keeping those vile views to yourself is probably the most we can ask for.

  • amanohyo

    Bluejay, this is not a binary world – I tutored the two oldest sons of one of my Jewish friends free of charge while she was dealing with unexpected medical bills. I loaned an acquaintance $1700 interest-free. As a high school teacher, I stopped my AP Physics class from bullying my only Jewish student and counseled him after school when he was struggling to find a place to fit in. Mild annoyance in a few specific professional fields does not automatically equate to mindless, blind hate.

    When it comes to the field of writing screenplays, I am moderately anti-semitic by the reasonably strict standards society has set in the case of this historically oppressed minority. There’s no way to sugar coat that word. Incidentally, I’m moderately racist, moderately sexist, moderately elitist, and moderately intolerant of all other religious people too – really just an all-around moderately vile person =) but I’m also honest and that honestly is helping me to slowly scale these slippery slopes. Your point is taken though – honesty of a highly controversial nature is better suited for the therapist’s couch than the mutant turtles’ comments section.

  • Bluejay

    We all struggle with tendencies towards prejudice and bigotry. But in the case of your self-proclaimed “moderate anti-Semitism,” I don’t get the sense that you’re trying to FIGHT it. I get the sense that you’re trying to JUSTIFY it. That’s the difference. If I’m wrong on that, you’re really doing a lousy job of making that clear.

    Just stop.

  • amanohyo

    You’ve made this point in the past, and you are correct – I’m not trying to fight it. I’m trying to understand it by discovering its causes and listening to other people’s explanations, primarily those of Jewish people themselves. It’s an approach that has served me well so far. For example, I used to be moderately homophobic, and am now only slightly so in large part because of the gay and lesbian people I met while living in the Bay Area.

    I’ve learned a lot over the past few days of research, although of course even Jewish people often strongly disagree on the precise reasons for their success in certain fields. I understand now that favoritism is a very small piece of a puzzle that is closely tied to history and culture, and that the degree of favoritism is no greater for Jews than it is for any other historically marginalized cultural group (gays in the fashion industry, for example). Ethnocentrism is a universal bias.

    Here is the current state of my justification:

    1) Are Jewish people well represented among Hollywood producers and executives?

    2) Is a person more likely to meet, interact with, feel comfortable around, and hire a person who shares some aspects of their culture?

    3) Are Jewish people well represented in comedy and professional writing involving comedic elements?

    4) Are 1) and 3) due partially to cultural reasons specific to the Jewish community? In other words,
    does the unique culture of the Jewish people give them, on average, a greater insight into comedy and the absurdity of the human condition that makes for funnier, more compelling, empathetic writing?

    5) Are 1) and 3) due partially to historical reasons specific to the Jewish community? In other words,
    has the fact that Jews have been historically discriminated against, persecuted, killed, and denied access to many jobs lead to their overrepresentation in certain industries?

    6) Is 3) due partially to 2)?

    7) Would it limit the types of stories told if 85% of produced screenplays were written by straight, white men? In other words, does the overrepresentation of straight, white men in the writers’ room affect the types of stories that are told and the ways in which they are told?

    8) Would it limit the types of stories told if half of produced screenplays were written by Jewish people? In other words, does the overrepresentation of Jewish people in Hollywood affect the types of stories that are told and the ways in which they are told?

    9) Replace the word Jewish in 8) with any other marginalized ethnicity, race, nationality, or religious group. Is your answer the same?

    10) If the answer to 9) is yes and 2) is universal among all cultural groups, is it illogical and irrational to focus on and exaggerate the influence of 6) relative to 4) and 5)?

    I apologize in advance if the formatting gets messed up during the cut and paste. I was stuck at 8) for a while, but just reached 10) yesterday and feel close to pushing the needle down from moderately to marginally. Thinking about this recently has also made me realize that there is a lot of projection going on – I tend to dislike writers that glorify or overanalyze a self-centered, privileged, bubble-like existence – clearly something I struggle with as well as this discussion clearly demonstrates. Reading articles and talking to friends is helpful, but it’s nice to have someone impartial to bounce thoughts off too. Thank you again for your time, help, and encouragement. Overcoming one’s own prejudices is never easy.

  • Bluejay

    you are correct – I’m not trying to fight it. I’m trying to understand it

    You’re not trying to fight it? Amanohyo, if you don’t get that bigotry is inherently irrational and immoral, and that you must understand it IN ORDER TO fight it, I don’t know what to say.

    Here is the current state of my justification

    STOP.

    There are legitimate sociological discussions to be had about why certain demographics dominate certain industries, but YOU are framing it in the context of anti-Semitism — of your own freely admitted annoyance, anger, jealousy, and resentment of Jews — and I CANNOT believe you’d be blind to just how wrong and fucked-up that is.

    Just stop. I’ll remind you that YOU SAID this discussion is best kept away from this site and saved for your therapist. So just stop.

    it’s nice to have someone impartial to bounce thoughts off too. Thank you again for your time, help, and encouragement.

    I want to be very clear here, amanohyo. I’m not impartial. I’m totally against anti-Semitism, both in general and yours in particular. And I did not offer you any help or encouragement, or anything other than my disbelief and anger. Work out your issues on your own time.

    Just. Stop.

  • amanohyo

    Ah, I finally see the source of the disagreement. My personality is composed of roughly four different aspects, each with its own values, priorities, and speaking style, somewhat similar to a team of mutant turtles:

    Donatello – Rational and curious, values “objective” truth, speaks in logical hypotheticals
    Michelangelo – Social, values agreement and harmony, speaks in emotions
    Raphael – Competitive, independent – values power over others and winning, speaks in impulses
    Leonardo – Traditional – values established social hierarchy and material accumulation, speaks in rules and laws

    Unlike the true turtles, each of these four take turns rising to the surface and leading depending on the specific situation. Different people tend to favor different aspects, but they all exist in everyone although the seams have varying degrees of visibility.

    Your personality is more strongly integrated, and as a result, you are able to easily stop your emotions using rational thought. I have not yet mastered this ability, although I have been saving up the skill points to invest in that tree for several levels.

    From my more splintered ; ) perspective, your “it’s evil, so stop it,” argument is incomplete. While it is quite compelling for Michelangelo and Leonardo, it only invites more questions from Donatello and Raphael. Fortunately, Danielm80’s approach answers those lingering questions, and I see now that what I thought was a rational reaction was actually the result of irrational fear and jealousy. I was taking anger directed at favoritism in other areas of society and directing it all at Jews, who are no more guilty or susceptible than any other group of humans. Donatello finally understands the whole picture, and Raphael is cool with losing as long as something is learned in the process.

    So, we made a real breakthrough this session! I’d like to thank you and Danielm80 for your patience, help, and clarification. As a former teacher, I understand how frustrating it can be when a student has trouble understanding something that appears to be self-evident. The assistance may have been inadvertent, but I assure you that your time and efforts are appreciated. The strength of the bale is the turtle, and the strength of the turtle is the bale.

  • Danielm80
  • Bluejay

    You don’t get a cookie for publicly explaining the excruciating process by which you’ve realized that bigotry is wrong. You don’t get a cookie for talking about anti-Semitism with flippant references to the fucking Ninja Turtles. And you don’t get a cookie for making this all about a celebration of yourself and your enlightenment.

    This isn’t your fucking therapy session, amanohyo. There are people here who have a real history with anti-Semitism, and anything further you have to say about “Look at me, I’m learning bigotry is bad!” will be incredibly self-absorbed and insulting. Just SHUT UP about it already.

  • LaSargenta

    “WE”??!

    No, maybe you learned something; all I learned was that you’ll really do anything to try and attract attention. I already knew you were bigoted in this way.

    Pro Tip: Wrapping this in detached sarcasm is unpleasant for your audience.

  • amanohyo

    You’re right LaSargenta, defensive, detached sarcasm is the lowest and least pleasant form of wit, especially when it’s as self-conscious and awkwardly forced as mine tends to be. And yet occasionally, deep within those soupy, sarcastic scutes swims a tender intratestudinal nugget of truth. That’s a fact jack.

    Unfortunately, this time it turned out to be a umm… different kind of floating nugget. Also… the uh previous two times as well. I feel like a combination of Jeff Goldblum near the end of the The Fly and Mr. Burns in The Old Man and the Lisa.

    “Nothing evil. That’s exactly the kind of radical thinking I need!”

    “You’re getting worse.”

    That reminds me, I was disappointed that Baxter Stockman didn’t become a mutant fly like in the original cartoon or even turn into a cyborg like in the comics – he and Rat King were my favorite villains as a kid. I had already seen the 1958 The Fly in the 80’s, but didn’t learn until recently that Rat King’s name refers to an actual, horrifying phenomenon. It’s like something out of the Monster Manual. *shudder*

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  • Tonio Kruger

    Oy vey!

  • Tonio Kruger

    Your willingness to help people whom you obviously consider to be different from you is very commendable. The fact that you use such help to rationalize your own prejudices is not.

  • amanohyo

    That’s true. In some sense, when I have provided financial assistance to Jewish friends, it has served to establish a hierarchy in which I am in a superior position. In another sense, I’m helping them because it’s something I would do for any of my friends.

    While I am attempting to rationalize my prejudices in the sense of understanding their sources, I mentioned the help primarily to point out that prejudice is not a binary, good/evil condition. Do I still have a long way to go? Sure, although I suspect my approach towards enlightenment will be asymptotic at best. Am I the moral equivalent of a rabid, hate-spewing Anti-Semite? Many would say yes, I obviously disagree.

    I’m not proud of being mildly antisemitic, but that’s who I am right now. The only way I know how to get better is to “rationalize” back to the foundations and rebuild from the ground up. Attacking something like racism or prejudice at the end of a long process of creation by singeing it at the tips is ineffectual in my opinion. Silencing hate is sometimes necessary, but it doesn’t make it go away.

  • I’m not proud of being mildly antisemitic, but that’s who I am right now.

    But you keep talking about it like you *are* proud. There is no “rationalization” of bigotry that is authentic. It’s all bullshit excuses. And I think you know that.

    prejudice is not a binary, good/evil condition

    Yeah, it pretty much is.

    It would be best if you kept your prejudices to yourself, and if you stopped seeking approval from us for your attempts to overcome it. Do, or do not. There is no try.

  • amanohyo

    As You Wish

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  • MORGAN RIVAS

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