The following editorial was submitted by Niklas Nowak, translated from the original German. This editorial has been edited for length and small grammar corrections. You can read it in it's entirety on Niklas's blog, here.
If you would like to submit an editorial, please e-mail the completed piece to me for consideration. Enjoy!
My Affection for Four Pizza-loving Turtles. Or: How My English Teacher Gave Me a Verbal Kick in the Teeth
As Swift as a Ninja, as Grandiose as an American
Since my first days in kindergarten, to me there has been nothing more tuff, more bold, more marvelous than the “Turtles,” [particularly] the “Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles”. (Please note: They bear the original name “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in the USA; in Europe, due to dubious aspects of youth protection, the “Ninja” was replaced by “Hero.”) The Turtles were the reason for the factor that the turtle became my favorite animal. Plenty of people see the turtle as a sluggish and coward midget, someone that holes up when the going gets tough. In my view, the turtle was a complex creature. Admirable, as I saw it as a big talking, in Japanese martial-arts-proficient and pizza-eating reptile. If you like, you can mark the Turtles as globalized-paradox, pop-cultural beings of the early 1990s; far Eastern consciousness and body control on the one hand, American pomposity and (unhealthy) culinary art on the other hand. Is there one word for all those facets? There sure is: Cowabunga!
Heroes through the Ages
“I was young and I needed the money” is not the adequate saying to outline my enthusiasm for the Turtles. More probably, “I was DARN young and had (yet) no idea of how the world works.” Industry realized the commercial potential of the Turtles and expanded it to a kiddie franchise that caught me. Balls to the wall. At the beginning of the 20th Century, children used to pick up on bygone eras to choose their heroes: knights, pirates, cowboys and the like. In the era of plastic commerce (an economic phenomenon that increasingly identified baby-tooth-bearers and their parents as a financially potent target group), explicit figures of franchises fill that role. In the 1970s, “Star Wars” served as a forerunner, numerous Western (for example, the “Transformers” and, of course, the Turtles) and Eastern (“Dragon Ball [Z], “Yu-Gi-Oh,” etc.) [examples] have followed. The fresh heroes answer to the names of Han-Solo and Son-Goku. I was right in the thick of it, chose four brave shell-bearers as my heroes and felt like a million dollars (pardon, pizzas). This was perfect material for my childish imagination, but a constant robbery of my piggy bank/my parents’ wallets. Maybe that was the reason for the fact that——partially due to grief about my merchandise purchases, partially due to empathy about my enthusiasm——in a somehow kind way my father called the Turtles, “Trottels” (a pun of the German word “Trottel,” which means “jerk” in English, and the original expression). Incarnations of Turtle action figures came (and still come) by the score; whether classic, with adjustable limbs (for the ninja moves), with a transforming-feature, or as robotic hybrids. Furthermore, you chose (and still choose) between myriad vehicles, armored fighting vehicles, flying objects, and headquarters that maximize the fun. I remember that there even was a freaky Turtle action figure with a kind of whistle on the back of its shell. It was not a very brilliant idea of one of my friends to select just this figure as his “Sandbox Turtle.” You could barely here a sound from that poor Turtle.
To claim that we’ve come “Turtle full circle” with the latest cinema-reboot would be a lie (particularly as in financial terms, the movie is a roaring success, which is kind of surprising as there are a lot of critical voices, too). Precisely that is the amazing thing about the Turtles: They were and are never completely gone. Sure, the 1990s-hype-days are all over. But nevertheless, every now and then there pops up a new cartoon or animation show, a movie, a video game and piles of toys. And, of course, a vast number of reprints, collected volumes and special editions of the original comic series. Turtles can attain a damn high age. For the average turtle a lack of perseverance and physical power can be compensated by cool-headed acceptance of its inconspicuousness and a Methuselah-like age. On top of that, due to their mutation-strengthened past, the Turtles can do more than a simple rasping sound so that their chances are not too small to be a long-run member of popular culture. Provided that the Turtles will try to equal a prominent companion of their species, they will indulge in popularity up to approximately 2159. I probably cannot compete with that. Hopefully, the same holds true for Trundle the tortoise.