October 17, 2012

Chelonian Dominance

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Over fall break, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see the Dali Lama speak at the One World Concert up in Syracuse. While there, I had the chance to hear from His Holiness and several musical artists like Dave Matthews Band, Nas and the Voices of Peace Choir. Dozens of spiritual leaders and musicians all converged in central New York in the name of peace. It was a very powerful experience, and at some point on the car ride down I thought to myself, “Holy cats, fall break ends tomorrow, and I have yet to do any work for the week.” I also thought to myself that, at some point or another I was going to have to move away from my marginally coherent ramblings and eventually write a column with some substance and with a little earnestness before inevitably winning a Pulitzer. This, however, is most certainly not that column.

I watched a lot of T.V. as a kid — an absolutely unhealthy amount — and I am convinced the programming I absorbed like a sponge molded me into the well-adjusted and charming (read: sarcastic and awkward) person that I am today. So when a friend of mine recently asked me which was superior: the Power Rangers or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Did he actually ask me this? No, but I can read body language pretty well, and I know he wanted to.), I simply could not understand how anybody can be uncertain of which Saturday morning superhero group is dominant. Although the issue has (for some strange reason) been largely passed over in this year’s presidential election, let me put the debate to bed here. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are in a league of their own compared to the lowly Power Rangers, and the reasons for chelonian (adj. of or pertaining to turtles) superiority are many.

First, it is important to remember that these programs ran in the 90s. The Power Rangers from our television screens grew up. The Power Rangers are now among the worst things on earth — Former. Child. Actors. The cartoon Ninja Turtles on the other hand, will remain unchanged and untainted by time. (I refuse to accept that Kevin Munroe TMNT piece of garbage as a real thing.) So, while the Red Ranger is trying to get a spot on TMZ by punching Chris Kattan right in the face in front of New York’s third hottest potato-famine themed nightclub (simply called “TOT”), Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo will forever be the pinnacles of evolution. The Ninja Turtles were giant, bipedal, talking reptiles. They learned Kung Fu from a sewer rat and could handle a variety of weapons with ease. They are essentially Darwin’s wet dream.

Secondly, let’s just take a superficial look at the crime fighters themselves. It comes down to spandex versus rock hard shells. Not exactly the toughest matchup in the world to pick. Ninja Turtle action figures are more durable than the actual Power Rangers. Plus, the Ninja Turtles had katanas, nunchuks, the Sai and a bo staff that all needed skill and tact. What did the Power Rangers have? The Zords — gigantic, clunky, glittery, less-cool versions of Optimus Prime. The Zords would be appropriate if the Power Rangers were going through their midlife crises, but come on. They’re supposed to be kids. And how practical is a four-story robot anyway? I saw The Last Crusade. Indiana Jones took out a Panzer tank by clogging the cannon with a rock, and Indiana Jones was a middle-aged archaeology professor. I can’t say for sure what a band of four Kung Fu-trained Ninja Turtles would do to the Megazord, but I imagine it would involve dismantling said machine in a show of pyrotechnic and acrobatic spectacles that would register an eight on seismographs thousands of miles away.

Moreover, the Turtles were original and not derivative of anything else. The Power Rangers, on the other hand, literally stole fight sequences from a former Japanese television series called Super Sentai. I was always taught to support originality and creativity. Well, what is more creative: a bunch of giant, walking, crime-fighting turtles or some teenagers in suits that literally steal all of their fight moves from some T.V. program in Japan?

Finally, let’s take a look at the nomenclature of these groups. The Ninja Turtles are named after four of the most profoundly influential artists of all time: Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Donatello, all masters in their field. What are the Power Rangers named after? Colors. The irony is almost too much. What do artists do with colors? The Ninja Turtles would LITERALLY smear the canvas with the Power Rangers. Whoop there it is.

The Turtles gave me trust in Darwin, taught me to value skill over technology, fostered originality and creativity and gave me an appreciation of fine art. The Power Rangers just gave me a headache. So if you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re debating a friend over which Saturday morning superheroes are superior: remember, that if he or she says anything but the Ninja Turtles, you probably shouldn’t be friends with that person at all.

Christo Eliot is a sophomore in the College of Engineering. He may be reached at celiot@cornellsun.com. The Tale of the Dingo at Midnight appears alternate Thursdays this semester.

Original Author: Christo Eliot