As I was driving to work this morning listening to some State Champs, a random thought crossed my mind, "Holy shit the Ninja Turtles invented pop-punk." I can't explain how or why this idea popped into my head, but the more I thought about it, the clearer it became to me. While you read this article I recommend listening to your favorite pop-punk playlist. Now, you may be thinking to yourself "What do 4 anthropomorphic turtles have to do with a genre of music?" Well, grab a slice of pineapple and pistachio pizza and let's find out.
Like all great 80's Characters, they found time to be anti-drug, all while chowing down on a slice of pie.
1. They're Filled with Teenage Angst
The heroes in a half shell kick some serious ass and sometimes it's easy to forget that they're only teens. The original team was 15 years old when the cartoon series began. As a teenager, you're an emotional wreck. The biggest things that most teen boys are worrying about are girls and puberty. Now try to put yourself in the shoes of the turtles, who are going through turtle puberty and have no one to talk to about it except a giant talking rat. They're the lonely protectors of NY city and do this out of sense of honor. Our teenage turtles live their lives longing to be accepted by society. They have very few human friends and really the only woman that they have interaction with is April O'Neil. The boys all develop feelings for her, knowing deep down that it would never work, as she is an adult human woman.
Thinking about this it's not hard to imagine the turtles blasting Sum 41 in their lair. Matters become worse for the fearsome fighting team when Casey Jones starts palling around with the crew. Casey is always portrayed as a good looking, witty, man and April is naturally drawn to him. This leaves the turtles out in the cold and searching for love in other places. Pop-punk and it's sub-genre emo are heavily tied to emotions about growing up. Raphael and Michelangelo in particular exemplify these qualities the most. Raphael, in the 1987 series, meets Mona Lisa and develops feelings for her over the course of a single episode. While this relationship wasn't fleshed out, I think it's safe to say that Raph still thinks about her from time to time while listening to some MCR. Mikey however is a different story. He longs for love but also...
2. Getting out of their sewer (Hometown)
In the latest film, Out of the Shadows, Mikey is always looking to escape the shadows and join society. The film opens with the turtles watching a Knicks game, just living on the outside of the world. Mikey also joins a Halloween parade and is ecstatic that he can walk around in the streets without being judged. Hell, one of the major plot points of the film is the mutagen that could possibly turn the turtles human. Go figure the two most on board with this idea are also the most emotional members of the team. Ultimately the crew decides to embrace who they are and realizes that they are special in their own way. Every pop-punk band has at least one song about getting out of their hometown and exploring the world. This is also often, followed up with a song about learning to be comfortable in your own skin.
No one is fooled by Micahel Bay CGI though.
Skateboarding is primarily featured in both TMNT and pop-punk. I can't even count the number of music videos skateboarding is featured in. The biggest music festival of the genre is literally sponsored by one of the largest skate companies in the world. The turtles also have been on skateboards in every incarnation of the series. This fact may not be as deep, but it's still an important parallel.
[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F24%2F636076055709649447-2083639565_th%3Fid%3DOIP.M9704fa0b9509aad35fe9acf50cfc1b44o0%26pid%3D15.1&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=13&h=c24ee2edaa205f1f1e65b29000c7999ec13a14fd09de9d038e4e8e5ea3a33a16&size=980x&c=3200936554 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F24%252F636076055709649447-2083639565_th%253Fid%253DOIP.M9704fa0b9509aad35fe9acf50cfc1b44o0%2526pid%253D15.1%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D13%26h%3Dc24ee2edaa205f1f1e65b29000c7999ec13a14fd09de9d038e4e8e5ea3a33a16%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3200936554%22%7D" expand=1 original_size="1x1"]
If you've never played this game, do it immediately after reading this.
4. The Magic Number Four
Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael. Patrick, Andy, Joe, and Pete. That's probably the first time that you've ever heard talking turtles compared to Fall Out Boy. Four turtles and four musicians. Both groups play off of each other to enhance their talents.In fact many Pop-punk and emo bands consist of only four members: lead vocals, lead guitar, drums, and bass. The turtles could probably have made a kick ass punk band come to think of it...
[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F24%2F636076065018189067-679492539_th%3Fid%3DOIP.Mf4e4274de21136493ddf9bfb5709ee92o0%26pid%3D15.1&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=491&h=a2cbfd9e8492fa9fb41dfbe4734ee559533865d5a5e18457d98456e572e2eccd&size=980x&c=1764638642 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F24%252F636076065018189067-679492539_th%253Fid%253DOIP.Mf4e4274de21136493ddf9bfb5709ee92o0%2526pid%253D15.1%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D491%26h%3Da2cbfd9e8492fa9fb41dfbe4734ee559533865d5a5e18457d98456e572e2eccd%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1764638642%22%7D" expand=1 original_size="1x1"]
You know what, never mind. Some things you just can't unhear...
If you know one thing about TMNT, it's the reptiles' love of pizza. In fact, one of the biggest product placement deals in any Ninja Turtle creation is the pizza chain. In the early 90's Pizza Hut reigned supreme, and the more recent films it has been Domino's. Shit, you can even buy a Walmart take and bake pizza with Leo on it around the time the movies are hot. The weird thing is that pop-punk culture has an almost cult-like love for pizza. Kids in the scene love pizza almost as much as the turtles. No one loves pizza more than those guys though, I'm pretty sure that's all they eat. To be fair I'm pretty sure everyone loves pizza, but do I like pizza so much because of my love of the franchise growing up?
Seriously, their first meal was pizza.
I feel like people my age really related to the turtles growing up. I'm starting to think that these heroes shaped my personality and interests in more ways than I even knew. They may have even helped to shape my taste in music, which could explain how musicians that grew up with TMNT could have sprinkled shades of the characters into their music, lyrics, and style. I didn't even get to touch on their influence on fashion, including Donnie wearing thick rimmed glasses and the gang wearing snapback hats from time to time. I'm not saying that this is the definitive origin of the scene's culture, but after reading this I'm hoping that you can see how uncanny some of the similarities are. Your favorite turtle also says more about your personality than you think, but that's a topic for another day.
If you want to find out more about Pop-punk stuff, check this out.