Image of Ninja Turtles from: http://www.posterparty.com/images/cartoon-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-yes-pizza-poster-AQU24894.jpg
The “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is a TV series/brand that has its beginning origins in the late 1980’s. The TV series circulates around four crime-fighting turtles and their martial-arts master, Splinter, who happens to be rat. In the episode I watched, titled “Once Upon a Time Machine”, the turtles start off sitting in a room watching TV, eating pizza, and neglecting their martial arts training. Splinter warns them of the dangers of excess calories and of how TV “shrivels your brain.” He then relays the message, “To be sharp tomorrow, one must hone his skills today.” From this message the episode moved forward with the plot of the antagonist “Shredder” wanting to take a time machine into the future, with the hopes that the Ninja Turtles would be extinct and no longer able to foil his evil misdeeds. However, the time portal Shredder uses has been left open and the Turtles follow him into the future. They see their future selves and it is obvious they did not heed Master Splinters advice for all the “future” turtles are more glutton, weak, and can not think effectively enough to fight crime. The “past” turtles vow to heed to their training and be good citizens. Then the turtles proceed to defeat Shredder before taking the time portal back to the present day.
After watching the aforementioned episode of “Ninja Turtles”, I disagree with Gary Cross when he writes in reference to 1980’s toys, “the old view that children should learn from the past and prepare for the future is inevitably subverted in a consumer culture where memory and hope get lost in a blur of perpetual change” (packet page 290). The problem with this statement is, Gary Cross is viewing the phenomenon, of fantasy toys, in a vacuum, and not taking into affect that the entire culture children are engulfed in shapes their imaginations, not just fantasy television shows. (Also, these two cultures can be separated from each other into distinct entities. Consumer culture and learning about the past). A child will learn about the past from a history teacher in school, and will be prepared for the future from their role inside the household such as doing their chores, attaining quality grades, and participating in sports. A child is to exercise their imagination, and escape from the realities of life while playing with their toys. Even though, the media has created “miniworlds of fantasy play” (pg.297) with toys that parallel the media’s story, children will still play with toys with their own creative elaborations. The toys might not “invite girls to be “little mommies”” (pg. 301) but, this does not mean that girls will not act out the role of “little mommy” with her barbie or other toy because she is witness to “being a mommy” everyday and this is apart of her imagination. To conclude, while the “Ninja Turtles” do not “indoctrinate children with political ideology” (pg. 298) and is a “simple vision of “good” vs. “evil” in a fantasy world where violence was a constant” (pg. 298), there are real world lessons of character intertwined throughout the entire episode. Some examples, from the episode, include eating your broccoli, eating excess calories make you fat, you will ruin your eyes reading in dull light, defacing monuments is a severe crime with harsh punishment, good citizens join the clean up the city campaign, and you must practice everyday if you want to be good at something. The point is, children are going to learn about the past from somewhere and are going to be prepared for the future from somewhere. These lessons of the past and future are distinct entities that can be extracted and learned separate from consumer culture. (Even though consumer culture is apart of our past, present, and future).
Episode found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyA2j458je4