I wish I was a part of the inner circle. You know, the people in show business who control what is what, and who becomes part of the “who’s who.” I wish I could be privy to those important round table discussions with seat cushions filled with the asses of Hollywood’s best and brightest writers, directors, producers, and film executives. The people who control the milking of my childhood for all it’s worth with silver screen renditions of cartoons and comics from the 1980s and ’90s. I wish I was present at the moment when someone says, “Hey, I have an idea people. Lets make the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aliens from outer space instead of mutants.” I wonder how many seconds pass as a suggestion like this reverberates around the room in the minds of everyone present. I wonder if the clock on the wall ticks any slower as the idea of unnecessarily altering such a vital piece of the central mythology of TMNT settles in amongst those that obviously feel no obligation to stick to the source material. Does an idea like that receive immediate adulation? Is a suggestion like that met with a standing ovation and raucous applause? Does anyone in that room even think to say, “This is possibly the worst idea ever!”? After studying the trends in Hollywood over the course of the last decade, I’ve found this answer to be a resounding no.
Hollywood has absolutely no problem with waltzing all over my childhood, and it has proven it time and time again. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles become relatives of ET. Transformers transform into jets instead of gigantic effin’ canons. Vampires turn into humanoid wedding rings when engulfed by sunlight and marry human girls.
At what point does the end product stray so far away from the source material that it would be better served by just creating a new intellectual property altogether? Instead of rewriting every rule of vampire fiction, why not just create a new entity that does not have a problem sunbathing? I mean, hell, instead of totally destroying the mutant ninja turtles mythology, why not just create a story about some totally unrelated alien turtles? Oh, I have a guess: is it because if you didn’t slap on the title of an already solidified brand, fewer people would give a shit and you might actually have to create something….creative?
So how often do these writers who are ordered to rewrite origins to enhance a story actually end up enhancing the story? Would this generation of children have a harder time believing the stories that I grew up believing? The Transformers movie franchise made more money than most people could spend in a lifetime, and yet the plots for the films were critically received as bantha fodder — disposable dialogue meant to pass the time until something else is exploding on screen. Any child of the ’80s knows that the “Transformers” cartoons had one of the most complex written stories of any cartoon ever made. And what “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” lacked in complexity, it made up for in solid, cohesive origin stories that actually made sense.
The most frustrating part of Hollywood’s incessant need to alter histories is that these stories are already written. Take the story, cut out the unnecessary parts, make a movie. I can’t understand for the life of me why this concept is so extraordinarily difficult to grasp.
As ticket sales for these reboots continue to soar, the thought crosses my mind that perhaps my concerns are lost amongst the crowds of people buying $6.00 small bags of movie theater popcorn. Perhaps the stories that were written for my generation should be remembered as just that — for my generation.
The only thing I can say with any certainty is that in the event that I ever have offspring, I’m going to introduce them to “the real McCoy.” Thats right, I’m breaking out the VCR and dusting off the VHS tapes and hopefully finding some type of antiquated store that will sell a television that has the connections to play them. And we will sit and pop some popcorn and watch vampires that aren’t diamonds, teenage ninja turtles that are still mutants, and Decepticon leaders that transform into gigantic effin’ cannons.
F MY L.