From the Inside: Michael Bay, Ninja Turtles, Star Wars and the Nature of Fandom

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Apparently Michael Bay has been reading a lot of Shakespeare lately; too bad he can’t learn anything constructive from The Bard. I also like how Homer Simpson put it: “There’s nothing wrong with crabgrass. It just has a bad name, that’s all. Everyone would love it if it has a cute name, like, uh, elf grass.”

Last week Michael Bay dropped the bombshell that for the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film he was going to change them from Teenage Mutants to Aliens that aren’t necessarily teenagers. Fans of the two plus decade old series responded in furry. A lot of filmmakers would heed fan backlash of that magnitude if for no other reason than it could hurt numbers opening weekend. And opening weekend really is the bottom line for any film these days.

But Michael Bay, the arrogant movie mogul and wannabe Jerry Bruckheimer that he is, said (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Bitches, you don’t know what I’ve done with the story! It’s gonna [expletive deleted] rock and I don’t care how much you [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] you [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted]! I’m going to take this beloved [expletive deleted] franchise and do whatever the [expletive deleted] I want with it! They’re [expletive deleted] aliens now, [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] deal with it!” or something to that effect.

At least, that’s how the fanboys probably read the quote.

Well, as if Bay hadn’t done enough to piss of the TMNT fan base at large now he’s gone and dropped another deuce. Now the film isn’t even going to be called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Now it’s simply going to be called Ninja Turtles. That’s right: two essential elements of the entire series have simply been erased. Imagine if he did that to other franchises.

He might as well remake the next X-Men film and recast Professor X as The Rock (as Hollywood seems to like to do as suggested by Scott’s most recent MMC).

He might as well remake the Smurfs but make them pink cause he likes that color better.

He might as well re-launch the Friday The 13th series, but now Jason is a jive talkin’ soul brother from the Atlanta, GA, circa 1975 and not an undead monster.

The point being is that Michael Bay has taken a franchise that has existed in comic book form since 1984 and been turned into four theatrical films & three animated TV series, as well as a long lasting toy line and god knows what else, and complete stripped it of everything that made the series what it is. The “crabgrass” quote from Homer Simpson feels appropriate in this context. I think that is what Bay must think of the TMNT franchise. He must look at these pizza loving sewer dwellers as weeds that need re-branding to make them interesting to people, which further goes to show how completely out of touch with reality he is.

Now, personally, I’m not the biggest TMNT fan. I dug the first film when it came out (I was 12) and loved the cartoon, but lost interest with the sequels. I watched the 2007 animated feature film and thought it was pretty darn good, but the Heroes in a half shell have never been one of my favorites. However, as a fan boy of other franchise such as Star Wars and X-Men and such I understand the devotion fans have to the characters and the story. Look how pissed off fans got when Brett Ratner churned out that steaming pile of crap some people call X-Men: Last Stand, look how pissed off fans boys still are at George Lucas for what he did with the prequels.

Just try mentioning Jar-Jar Binks to a devout fan and watch the spittle at the edge of their mouth come right at you.

But filmmakers never learn. They really don’t give a crap about the fans, especially Michael Bay. He only cares about the bottom line, most succinctly “Can the factory churn out a film that will make whole lot of money opening weekend?” Me, I wish it wasn’t because eventually something more creative than top level CGI would come out of it.

I wish Bay would be concerned with his choices here, I really do. He’s about to completely destroy the origin of these characters and now he’s given the film a stupid forgettable name just like John Carter, relying on his name and a marketing campaign to get people into seats as opposed to making a genuinely good film about it.

One would like to hope that because of all their complaining that fans would stay at home opening weekend, that they would boycott the film en masse at all costs and thusly prevent the film from making a profit to teach Bay a lesson. The sad thing is there are a bunch of people who aren’t fans of the film who will see Bay’s latest shiny trailer and think “Gee that looks like a decent way to waste four hours.”

If you don’t believe me on that front, look how long the Transformers films were, each longer than the last, and how people came out in droves to see them. Dark of the Moon was a painful 154 minutes and was amongst the highest grossing films of all time! And they will flock in droves to the theater that weekend and it will make money. As much as they bitch and complain, the fanboys aren’t going to stay home that weekend.

As much as they know they are going to hate the film, they will pay to go and see it so that they will know firsthand how horrible it is and will be able to bitch about it properly on the internet. So the fans will go see it regardless and so will the non-fans and that is what Michael Bay is counting on. And that is why Michael Bay doesn’t care about anyone but himself and that is why he is one of the worst filmmakers in Hollywood. Until his films stop making money the studios will continue to allow him to destroy one beloved franchise after another.

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