Wednesday, April 24, 2024

I want more gay Power Rangers punching space invaders and inequality in the face

Described as a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment, the first official queer Power Ranger debuted in the 2017 box office blunder of the same name. The most recent incarnation of Trini Kwan (played by platinum selling singer Becky G) struggles with accepting her own sexual orientation while trying to relate to her family. While I was thrilled with the representation because Trini was depicted as The Yellow Ranger who is also gay and not The Gay Girl who’s also a Power Ranger, others have seemingly disagreed with me so adamantly that a proposed third reboot movie by Paramount Pictures has promised a transgender Ranger or more emphasis on a Ranger’s LGBT identity. And honestly, it’s about time we had more queer defenders of the galaxy.

If you’re not as nerdy as I am and have no idea what a Power Ranger is, let me bring you back to 1993 when one of the greatest – and cheesiest – series of all time began. After 10,000 years, supreme witch Rita Repulsa and her minions were accidently freed by astronauts and immediately she set her sights on concurring Earth. Sage and former Ranger Zordon desperately searches for five teens with attitude to imbue with powers, weapons, suits and giant dinosaur attack machines to help defend the planet from Rita. Because High School teens are always the perfect choice for being thrown into high-stress situations like mass human extinction.

28 seasons often filled with new Rangers, three major motion picture movies, an ever expanding action figure line, video games, Halloween costumes, books and a new comic series by Boom Studios! and the Power Rangers saga has grossed almost $8,000,000,000 worldwide. However, it should be known that original show-runners weren’t gay friendly. Producers were verbally abusive to David Yost (Billy the Blue Ranger) and created a toxic environment of isolation for him on set; which culminated in him quitting the hit series and contemplating suicide. Yost has talked about this subject extensively in many interviews since 2010.

Offenders Haim Saban and Scott Page-Pagter have stepped away from the series in recent years, so maybe now is the perfect time for current show-runners to relay for change and inclusivity. Almost 200 Power Rangers have served as defenders. Surely more than one can be a member of the LGBT community. According to Oxford University, almost 7% of the popular is gay, which means by my shotty math skills, we’re technically owed at least two more gay Rangers.

If you ever wondered by there’s a drastic change in appearance in terms screen quality when the Rangers are out of armor and in the middle of a battle, it’s because Power Rangers is a Japanese import. When adapted to American television, the actors are recast with new performers who film scenes in America or other English-speaking countries. Before being sliced and diced and edited for our screens, the series is known as Super Sentai. The point of adding this item is because, according to The Japan Times and The Wall Street Journal, Japan is gay friendly. An openly transgender politician was elected to office in 2019 and Japan recognizes a “same-sex partnership,” which is other countries’ version of a civil union. Surely, if a country is open to the LGBT community, some storylines involving members of that group can be added to narrative television.

Even electing a transgender politician signals that Japan recognizes them as capable leaders. And literature and art from centuries ago have referenced same-sex warriors serving together. The reason that gay characters haven’t appeared on Super Sentai or Power Rangers could be due to its key demographic – young people. Power Rangers is heavily marketed to tweens, even though a large chunk of its viewers is older nerds like me, and maybe gay storylines fall into a grey area that parents want to wait a little longer to address with their kids. This is why I feel that the new incarnation of Trini in the 2017 movie was such a door-opener. There’s a lot more to any human than just their sexuality, and mentioning it and moving on makes them an every day person – not an every day gay person.

Only time will tell if we’ll ever see a gay Power Ranger pop up in the television universe. I have a feeling we’ll see a queer female Ranger again long before we see a queer male Ranger because that gender-bias still exists in 2021. Fortunately, cross-dressing and gender-fluid characters spawn mayhem and destruction on the regular no matter what season you’re binging. If we’ve seen an African American leader and a female leader, my hope is that we’ll see a queer leader at some point in the future.

For now, though, you can watch the current season, Power Rangers: Dino Fury, on Nickelodeon. It stars former boy-bander Chance Perez, who I have a soft spot for as a member of In Real Life (2017-2020). An Android and iOS game, Power Rangers: Legacy Wars, was released in 2017 and major console game, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, was released in 2019. The latter was a mild hit with critics and made decent sales.

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