5 Most Dangerously Garbage Parents In Pop-Culture
Parenting is tough. You pour your heart and soul into raising your kids right, never quite knowing which decision will be the one that leads your kid to success or send them into therapy. The only examples we have to go by are how our parents raised us, which ... can be hit or miss for some of us. Or, we can look to the examples set by fictional characters in popular culture.
But when it comes to make-believe role models, for every Atticus Finch, there are dozens of Jack Torrences that missed the mark ...
The Ninja Turtles Have To Put Up With A Lot Of Crap Thanks To Splinter
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael) live in the sewers under New York City with their sensei/adoptive father Splinter, an elderly mutant ninja rat. Splinter taught the turtles everything they know ... about being ninjas. They learned everything else from watching TV, and apparently, the only channel that got decent reception in the sewer exclusively played surf lingo tutorials sponsored by Pizza Hut.
The Ninja Turtles' main enemies are Shredder and the Foot Clan. Shredder just so happens to be the man who killed Splinter's master, Hamato Yoshi. And that highlights what is probably Splinter's biggest flaw as a parent: he's not just training his sons to be warriors, but he's also kinda making them fight his battles for him. That is not a healthy dynamic to have with your children. No good comes out of forcing your kids to be your extreme ideological clones and then sending them out to exact revenge on your behalf. That's how we ended up with Donald Trump, Jr.'s Twitter feed (which, as of this writing, still exists).
Splinter feeds his kids nothing but pizza, and the only subject on the homeschool curriculum is martial arts. That's some strong only-on-the-weekends divorced dad energy right there. All the creators needed to do to complete the hat trick was to give Splinter a drinking problem or a stripper girlfriend named after a gemstone.
Quick side note: between the fact that they live in a literal sewer and that turtles are common carriers of E. coli, not to mention the residual radiation from the ooze that mutated them in the first place, did Splinter even need to teach them Ninjitsu? He could've taught his sons to strategically spit on their enemies instead of fighting them, and they would probably have the same, if not better, results.
And it's not like they didn't have a choice in their living conditions. After a defeat in the first live-action movie, the Turtles retreated to an upstate farmhouse. Granted, they had to return to the city to rescue Splinter, but there had to be a better reason they never returned to the farm and settled into a nicer home life other than the studio's hard-on for a sequel.
The biggest question we have is, who the hell do we call to report this: Child Protective Services, Animal Control, or the Sanitation Department?
Bruce Wayne Goes Through A Suspiciously High Number Of Orphans
In all of Hollywood's attempts to make Batman feel more grounded in reality over the past 20 years, there is one important character from the comics they have avoided like the plague: Robin. There's one good reason for that, and it ain't Joel Schumacher. The problem isn't Batman and Robin; it's Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson ... or Jason Todd ... or Tim Drake ... or Stephanie Brown ... or Damian Wayne ... or Jarro ...
It's easy for the audience to accept the Batman/Robin dynamic because we know their secret identities. The citizens of Gotham, on the other hand, do not. When Robin first came on the scene, the front-page headline might be BATMAN'S NEW SIDEKICK, but the gossip section would be all about billionaire bachelor Bruce Wayne, who really hasn't had any meaningful public relationships with women, deciding out of nowhere to adopt a little boy named Dick who's really into gymnastics. That seems a little strange, but we're sure it's all completely innocent, right?
Years later, we know that Dick Grayson had decided to break out on his own as Nightwing and passed the Robin title to new kid Jason Todd. Again, Gotham doesn't know that. All they knew was that Bruce Wayne and his adopted son apparently had some sort of falling out, and almost immediately, Wayne adopted another impressionable, young, acrobatic orphan. "Hold up ... Sensing a pattern here. Are we sure this guy isn't pulling a Jeffrey Epstein?" should be a question starting to form in every Gotham Gazette reporter's mind.
Jason Todd's Robin was later blown up in an explosion set off by the Joker. That was a tragedy for Batman, but now Bruce Wayne has to explain what happened to his kid. There are very few cover stories he can give that wouldn't raise more questions than it answers.
Batman was smart enough to avoid interacting with his next two Robins (Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown) when he was off-duty as Bruce Wayne ... Until he adopted Tim after his parents died. Then, the fifth Robin happened to be Bruce's biological son, Damian. Since the baby mama was Talia al Ghul, leader of the League of Assassins, Bruce surely had to think up a good cover story for the press on this one. "His mother? She's ... uh ... an entrepreneur. We met at a conference, of sorts ..."
For anyone to assume custody of a child, even a biological one, Social Services must perform an inspection of the house first. By the time Damian came along, there had been enough rumors circulating around Bruce to definitely warrant an extremely thorough search. That must've been nerve-wracking for Bruce, seeing as the house is chock full of triggers to secret passageways to the Batcave.
Professor X Wants To Help Mutant Children (By Constantly Placing Them In Mortal Danger)
In the X-Men movies and comics, Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters is a private boarding school in upstate New York for young mutants to receive an education while also learning to control their mutant powers. The school also includes a post-graduate program that includes, but is not limited to, kicking Magneto's ass.
The school's founder and headmaster, Charles Xavier, believes more than anything that humans and mutants can peacefully coexist. He teaches his students to control their powers hoping that humankind will no longer fear mutants as a threat to their existence. Yet, underneath the school is the secret base of combat operations for a team of powerful mutants fighting off the existential threats facing both sides of the human/mutant conflict.
It's a noble cause, but the school has many inherent logistical issues that place the students at risk. For instance, the X-Gene, which gives all mutants their superpowers, kicks in at puberty. Many things happen to us at that age that we cannot control ... namely, things that happen to us in our sleep. For human teenagers, these nocturnal ... um ... events, at worst, might result in having to do an unscheduled load of laundry. For mutant teenagers, there's the chance that their new-found powers could cause some real damage. Now try to imagine an entire dorm full of these pubescent time bombs.
Students would have to be assigned rooms based on their abilities. Kitty Pryde can phase through walls, so her room would definitely be on the ground level. Iceman and Pyro would have to share a bunk so one could put out the other in an emergency. Banshee occasionally has night terrors, so let's room him with Halcyon.
Then, there's the matter of the quality of their education. It's hard enough for a private school to find quality teachers when the talent pool is not limited solely to mutants. Seeing as all of the X-Mansion teachers are former students, they are more attuned to the curriculum, but still letting a horndog like Gambit teach Sex-Ed is a recipe for a lawsuit. Rogue taught linguistics, despite sounding like phone sex between Foghorn Leghorn and sentient Jeff Foxworthy joke book. Wolverine is a great choice to teach history because, well, he was there for it, but his drinking problem is certainly cause for concern.
Next, we have the Danger Room, a training facility for the X-Men, which operates basically the same as the Holodeck from Star Trek. It uses hard-light holographic technology to create life-like scenarios for the students to hone their mutant powers for use in battle. The simulations are closely monitored to avoid killing them, but over the years, the safety and security protocols have been disrupted, hacked, and even gained sentience. Dangerous? You bet! Is it any safer than Gambit's Sex-Ed class? That's subjective.
And to top it all off, Charles Xavier is a telepath, and with the help of Cerebro, he can amplify his powers to reach anyone, anywhere on the planet. Not only does that make him the world's most annoying hall monitor, but his ability to erase people's minds also raises some serious ethical issues when it comes to complaints against school policy, not to mention his score on ratemyprofessors.com.
The Jedi Kinda Suck At Mentoring
One of the biggest overlapping themes in the Star Wars saga has to be everyone waiting until the last damn minute to resolve family issues. Anakin rescues his mother, and she dies from her injuries 90 seconds later. Luke succeeds in turning Vader back from the dark side, mere minutes before his death. Han Solo gets a lightsaber through the heart, trying to convince his son to give up on his emo phase.
These family issues are bad, but let's not overlook the fact that the ones left to pick up the parental slack were equally bad, if not worse. Take the Jedi, for example. They go around the galaxy finding force-sensitive younglings and recruit them for the Jedi academy at age five, and once the kids are in the program, the Jedi teach them to resist fear, anger, and hatred because those emotions all lead to the dark side.
That's not a healthy coping mechanism, is it? They're not purging those emotions; they're bottling them up. That's why the number one sales tactic for turning to the dark side is to give in to that anger. Dude, just let it out! You'll feel so much better! Plus, you'll be able to shoot lightning from your fingers!
Qui-Gon Jinn wanted to train Anakin Skywalker as a Jedi, so he freed him from slavery ... by winning him in a bet. That's a hell of a way to start a life-long mentorship, huh? Unfortunately for Qui-Gon, his "life-long" part of the deal only lasted a couple of days, which brings us to an odd motif in the Star Wars movies: a lot of Jedi masters seem to die just a few days after they start training their padawans. Qui-Gon with Anakin, Obi-Wan with Luke, Luke with Rey ... Yoda lasted a little bit longer with Luke, but you get the point. On the flip side, the masters who really screwed up the training spent years working with their apprentices -- Obi-wan with Anakin, and Luke with Kylo Ren ... Not a great long-term success rate.
Not to mention the cavalcade of lies. Qui-Gon never told Anakin how he freed him from slavery. Obi-Wan and Yoda lied to Luke about Vader being his father. Luke lied to Rey about trying to kill Ben Solo. Yes, the Sith lie all the time as well, but they lie in the same way a poker player tries to bluff their way out of a bad hand.
Geez, for a religion that tries to purge their followers of anger, they sure do love playing a lot of unnecessary mind games.
Tony Stark Is A Shitty Big Brother Mentor
The Stark family in the MCU has always stood for innovation, ingenuity, and always being partially to blame for numerous world-threatening events. Tony Stark spent years trying to simultaneously live up to his father Howard's legacy, escape his shadow, and on more than one occasion, clean up his messes. That emotional baggage got so bad that Tony had to hack into his own brain to make memories of his father feel less traumatic.
But as much as Tony did to surpass his father's legacy, there was always one thing that his father had that he didn't: an heir to the throne. Given his self-centered, obsessive nature and his on-again/off-again relationship with Pepper Potts, kids weren't really in the cards for him. It wasn't until he encountered young whiz-kid Harley Keener in Iron Man 3 that Tony had really interacted with a child, much less needed their help.
From 'Hello' to 'Have some military hardware' in 142 seconds.
To his credit, Tony treated Harley like an adult because kids tend to do better when you're not constantly babying them. Unfortunately, Tony treated Harley like every other adult he had ever dealt with: with an inflated sense of superiority and smug condescension. He had a few moments of humility with Harley, and he did reward him for his help in the end, but that was about it for them. Transactional relationship over.
Four years later, Tony recruited Peter Parker, who had just started learning to be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man at this point, to join him in trying to capture <checks notes> a suspected international terrorist and war-criminal. Tony needed Pete's powers, but after speaking to Peter, he saw something in the kid ... Spider-Man may have needed a new suit, but Peter needed a mentor. So, Tony set out to teach Peter Parker the same way his father taught him: by leaving him to figure things out on his own, only interacting with him when he absolutely has to, and making his assistant deal with him the rest of the time.
He wanted Peter to learn the lesson that if he's nothing without the suit Tony built, then he doesn't deserve it. Granted, that was a valuable lesson, only slightly undercut by the fact that Tony really only learned that lesson for himself four years earlier in Iron Man 3.
Two years later, when Thanos snapped his fingers and Peter was one of the unlucky halves of all life in the universe, it devastated Tony. He secluded himself with Pepper on a quiet farm, and they had a daughter named Morgan. Years later, when Cap and the gang approach Tony about their time travel do-over idea, it was an old picture of Peter that convinced Tony to figure out how to make the time machine work. Physicists have been trying to figure that crap out for decades, but apparently, the key to success was massive amounts of survivor's guilt.
The time heist was successful, and Tony was able to bring everyone back from the dead for the final battle with Thanos. He saved Peter ... only to have the kid watch him die less than an hour later. In a weird way, you gotta respect that kind of power move. No, you're the one that's traumatized!
Hey, wait a minute ... If Tony and Pepper were both fighting in that battle ... Who was watching Morgan? They didn't leave a four-year-old at home alone, did they?!? Goddammit, Tony ...
Top image: 20th Century Studios, Nickelodeon