Go Go Power Rangers

The Power Rangers first aired in 1993 and continued to come out with different versions every year or two afterwards. The basic premise of the show is that an alien wizard Zordon (whose face is illuminated onto a large glass column) finds five “teenagers with attitude” to help fight evil powers from outer space led by Rita Repulsa. The teenagers “morph” into power rangers dressed in skintight outfits and equipped with shiny football-like helmets with dark visors. Each character represented a different color and had a unique weapon. **Nod your head along if you thought that Tommy (green ranger) and Kimberly (pink ranger) were destined to be together.

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The Power Rangers television show taught kids the idea of discipline. The rangers had a set of rules that they had to abide by:

  • They may only use their powers to fight evil.
  • They are to never reveal their identity to the public.

The structure of an episode featured the team hanging out with each other until Zordon called them in. They learn about a terrible new bad guy to fight and lose on their first attempt because they work individually. Persistence & Teamwork – the rangers regroup and defeat the antagonist at the end of the episode by combining their powers together to create one large machine called Megazord.

In Sean Griffin’s article “Davy Crocket and the Children’s Space” he quotes Michel de Certeau who explains, “children take what they can and make their own culture with it, called ‘poaching’” (Griffin 104). One of the ways I challenged the design of Power Rangers was that I focused on the violent parts of the show and took it to the recess black tops.

My mom and dad’s style of parenting coincides with Griffin’s notes when he explains how the television set was a “built-in babysitter” because it kept me occupied for hours and out of trouble (Griffin 108). This resulted in watching many hours of Power Rangers, which lured me into the fictional world. Unfortunately, Griffin comments how the television set can be a “double edged-sword” because it could “broaden the ideas of violence into unprepared and innocent minds”, which was reflective on my behavior in elementary school (Griffin 108). During 1st-2nd grade I loved recess and Power Rangers. I was fascinated by all the “cool” fighting attacks and super powers that they displayed. I took the show so literally that a group of my friends would pretend to act like the Power Rangers (I was the red ranger) and attack the evil powers – naturally being the 4th and 5th graders. Our method of attack was scratching (not that severe). We each got our own Power Rangers costumes for Halloween and wore it to school to attack older kids. The principal quickly stopped our violent activity and we all got put in timeout.

Mighty-Morphin-Power-Rangers-the-90s-367889_693_296A side note: by looking at the picture of all the power rangers from the first season, the production team made a conscious effort to represent a range of race and gender. The group consists of both men and women, and different races such as African American and Asian.  Power Rangers was the common thread that made it easy to make friends with girls because we both shared a strong interest in the show. There were many instances where I would pretend to be the red ranger and also play with a  girl who was the pink ranger. Similar to the way Disney marketed Davey Crocket to boys, the advertisements for the Power Rangers were advertised to the same market. The video below displays multiple commercials that feature Power Ranger action figures that are all sold separately but shows a boy collecting them all. Despite these ads and similar to the way girls were interested in Davy Crocket and bought his coonskin hat, girls my age were buying Power Ranger merchandise regardless of how it was advertised.

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2 thoughts on “Go Go Power Rangers

  1. SERIOUS QUESTION: Could a boy play the pink or yellow power ranger? Part of what makes Power Rangers difficult is that to “play,” it’s best to have the costumes, and whatever costume you have is such a clear indicator of gender…..whereas the coon hat becomes almost asexual. Or does it?

  2. In response to both Annie and Brian, there was a double standard of cross-gender play in my experience. While Power Rangers were typically considered a more masculine show even with the female power rangers, I enjoyed playing Power Rangers AND dressed as the red power ranger most often. But unlike Griffin’s description of the strictly demarcated gender roles of children in 1050’s, I found that my peers and I were not confined or encouraged to maintain these roles. Instead, we could play outside and reenact characters of either sex because it was simply our preference. The double standard comes into play here, which annie points out, because while I could always play a masculine character, the boys never played the female characters, or at least the pink character. I think young boys of Brian and I’s generation are expected to uphold gender norms more so than girls. Like the article points out, girls liked playing Davey Crockett because they could “break out of their engendered roles and spaces” which were more confining, or designated as “girlish”. The pink power ranger signifies a very feminine specific quality, thus boys would be entering into “girlyness” whereas I simply wanted to play with my friends and be the color I liked, and that did not make me boyish. While girls in the article were more constricted by gender norms and space, I believe it is the opposite in the Power Ranger case and possible our generation’s case as well.

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