My Mom bought me every Power Rangers toy imaginable when I was a kid…
The show on VHS, the movies, the play swords and laser pistols, and don’t forget the costume and plastic mask, I had it all. You grow up and suddenly you begin to see a culture where the good guy and the bad guy are sometimes one in the same. Franchises like Power Rangers are quickly left behind because they are, as one friend of mine put it, “too simple.”
They are “simple”, but at the same time we tend to complicate the simple things. We use pop culture to give us an “in your face” motif to push a social justice agenda i.e.:
WE MUST make a big deal about this new black character.
YOU WILL celebrate this straight character coming out as gay.
YOU WILL celebrate gender swapping this long time superhero.
YOU CANNOT say anything about this Muslim character.
Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with diversity in comics or films at all, but while we try and make it into an extreme thing now, Power Rangers were teaching us to be chill way back in the 90’s. Power Rangers were kindly and gently “progressive” (using the PC term to make the point clear) before progressives became bullies in order to enforce their worldview.
Power Rangers featured black, female, and Asian characters that were more than sidekicks and stereotypes. There was never an episode set to remind you the Blue Ranger was black, the story ultimately mattered and always focused on character. Their friendship as a team was always what came together, and even though the Red Ranger was in charge, the show always had the Rangers understanding the balancing act of the leader-follower mindset needed to succeed as a team.
Lastly, the show did have a serious arc, just look at the longest running character in the franchise Tommy, the Green turned to White Ranger, whose story line of misfit teen turned evil gone good is still playing out in the Power Rangers comic.
The Power Rangers, thanks to the new film, may have a darker themed tint to it so the story can mimic our times, yet everything comes back to the same initial story where good and evil are properly defined. In today’s crazy-crazy world, can we identify the heroes for who they are or are we always trying to find reasons to tarnish them?
Power Rangers reminds us you don’t need to behave like the bad guy to fit in as today’s good guys. Sometimes we need a reminder not to over complicate simple.
After all, why is Captain America everyone’s favorite Avenger?