Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze isn’t really well-known as a deep philosophical film. It’s mostly filled with juvenile humor that appealed to me as a child. But upon reflection, I realized that there actually is a kernel of depth to this film hidden in plain sight. It’s right there in the title: The Secret of the Ooze. What is the origin of the Ninja Turtles, and what does it say about their existence? There’s only one scene that properly deals with this subject, and I’d like to share it with you and discuss its huge implications.
Professor Jordan Perry is a scientist who works at Techno Global Research Industries (TGRI), and he’s largely responsible for the mysterious ooze that mutated the four turtles and a rat into human-sized ninja masters. After being rescued by the turtles from the clutches of the Shredder, Professor Perry proceeds to reveal all he knows about how their mutation occurred.
Professor Perry: Of course, laboratories were crude back then and an accident was just waiting to happen.
Donatello: Wait, wait, wait a minute. You mean to tell us that the formation of the ooze was all just a big mistake?
Professor Perry: Well, let me see… Donatello, isn’t it? An unknown mixture of discarded chemicals was accidentally exposed to a series of radiated waves, and the resulting ooze, as you put it, was found to have remarkable but dangerous mutanagenic properties.
Raphael (to Michelangelo): Big mistake.
Michelangelo (to Raphael): Oh.
Splinter: Please continue, professor.
Professor Perry: Well, on our way to bury them, a near-collision caused us to lose one of the canisters down a sewer 15 years ago.
(After discussing the Shredder’s plans and sending the professor away, Splinter notices Donatello worriedly busying himself apart from the others)
Splinter: What troubles you, my son?
Donatello: I don’t know. I just always thought there’d be more to it. To the ooze. To, you know, us.
Leonardo: I know.
Donatello: I always thought there’d be something that… I thought we’d find out we were special.
Donatello: I don’t believe him. There’s just got to be more to it.
Splinter: Perhaps the search for a beginning rarely has so easy an end.
That’s where the discussion comes to a sudden halt, never to be picked up again. But I feel like there is much more we could say about the topic by relating it to ourselves. I fear that I am incapable of doing justice to such an important discussion as the origin of everything, but I will do my best to explain my thoughts.
Accident or Purpose?
The beginning of something will tell you everything about its purpose and destiny. If something is designed for a specific reason, you can expect that it will either fulfill that function or fall short in the attempt. If, however, something is not designed by someone, it is meaningless and there’s nothing for it to attain or achieve. For example, if a million monkeys typing random letters for eternity managed to produce Hamlet, it wouldn’t be the same as when William Shakespeare sat down and wrote it with thought and purpose in mind. In the former case, the words are meaningless and the product of random chance while in the latter, they are the product of a powerful mind and will at work. Words only mean something when they are trying to convey a message. Even if words could be strung together at random to create a recognizable message, they wouldn’t convey any information if that was never the intention in putting them together in the first place. Let’s put it another way. The game of Life will never nourish someone’s body like Life cereal because, even though they share the same name, one is intended to entertain as a board game while the other is a food designed to provide energy. No amount of time would enable a fully developed system created for one purpose to switch to another without the aid of an intellect.
In the scene above, most of the turtles are fine with shrugging off their existence as trivial, but Donatello is horrified by that thought. What would be the purpose of his continued existence if he were truly just an accident? There would be none. He refuses to believe the professor because he instead believes his life has meaning and that he exists in his current state for a reason. There’s something special about his existence. The movie doesn’t explicitly state it, but it seems to be hinting at Someone much more powerful than the professor at work in the mutation of the turtles into their current state. Perhaps there was nothing accidental at all about the sudden swerve that made the TGRI employee drop a canister of ooze at the right place and the right moment.
Life Is Purposeful
Like Donatello, I don’t believe that life is accidental or that it’s random. “There’s just got to be more to it” than chemicals reacting or an ooze producing an infinitely complex lifeform, whether it’s a Ninja Turtle or a single cell. If it were true that life was an accident, free will would be an illusion because every action we make would be the product of material forces set in motion from the beginning of time. No, there’s something more going on. We’re not just matter and energy interacting with each other. We have free will that enables us to make choices that affect ourselves and others.
I don’t know what the purpose of each person’s life is because we all have different situations, challenges, strengths, and weaknesses. But I do know that, whatever our station in life, it’s in our nature to improve, grow, overcome, achieve, and be more than what we were when we started. Just as an apple seed has the potential to grow into a giant apple tree, we are Someone’s seed with immense potential inherent in our nature. If a Ninja Turtle can ponder deeply upon the origin and meaning of life, surely we can, too.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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