Saturday, January 23, 2016

In Defense of Adult Power Rangers Fans


It’s hard to live in an English-speaking country and not know anything about the Power Rangers. Probably a lot of non-English-speaking countries, too, but I can’t speak about them. Not from personal experience anyway. Whether the extent of your knowledge is teenagers in skin-tight suits doing karate, or you can name each Ranger from each season, something certainly comes to mind when you hear those words.

Power Rangers, man. They’re not a choice. They’re a lifestyle.

Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme. But the fact is, as much as they’re designed for kids, there are older fans. I’m not the only one at all, I assure you. It wasn’t some tech savvy ten year old who set up the Power Rangers Wiki. Chances are, it was someone around my age, because people my age have had Power Rangers thrust into our formative DNA.

As with most things, there are detractors. Older fans obviously have no taste. We’re watching kiddie shows. We’re stuck in the past. We’re somehow or another socially unacceptable because we like a TV show. We should be watching Keeping up with the Kardashians and Duck Dynasty instead.

I call bullshit on that, if you couldn’t tell. Complete bullshit. I’m absolutely a Power Rangers fan, even at age 24. To a lot of people, that probably seems obvious. I’m just a kid, anyway. But I’m old enough to catch crap for being a fan, so I’m old enough to argue against it.

See, there are a few points that are raised against us fans over and over and over. Often enough that we’re all pretty familiar with them. The big one, of course, is that it’s for kids. That’s a stupid argument, because it doesn’t raise any points. It never says why it’s for kids, just that it is.

If you make it past that, you get the plots. They’re weak. It’s a bit of a sweeping statement, though. I dare you to watch Power Rangers in Space and not get into the whole thing with Andros and Karone. It’s powerful stuff, and that season saved the entire franchise. Yes, the plots aren’t deep when compared to, say, a show like Empire or Once Upon a Time. That doesn’t mean they have no value. And, during the sort of halcyon age of Power Rangers, when they had it figured it out, but hadn’t yet sold it to Nickelodeon (Shudder), the stories were pretty damn good. And not just that, they were universal. Even played out on these grand scales the way they were, you could always relate to them.

Let’s take, I don’t know, Power Rangers Dino Thunder. A bunch of kids fighting against human/dinosaur hybrids to stop them from plunging Earth back into the Jurassic Age. I don’t know about anyone else, but this isn’t a daily occurrence in my life. But you see a kid dealing with stress from his father. You see dating. You see people trying to make friends. Yah, it’s all pretty bog-standard for a ‘kid’s show,’ but that doesn’t mean we don’t all get it.

But what is it specifically that still captures the attention of so many adult fans? Well, that’s less universal. There’s definitely some level of nostalgia for a lot of us who watched it as kids. We’re getting to go back and see these things again. Yes, there are flaws, but look at how cool thing X is. Remember watching that on antenna television fifteen years ago? Wasn’t it cool?

It’s not enough, though, to explain the number of active fans, and the devotion. Now, I’m just firing off ideas, here, but this is what I think. Power Rangers has serious ass-kicking. It has magic. It has cool, advanced tech. It had aliens. It has family drama. It has clear good and evil in it. And it’s half an hour long. We can devour an episode without completely losing a day. Because they aren’t so in-depth, we don’t mind leaving after one or two to carry on with normal life. Not that I, and many others, haven’t binge-watched Power Rangers. It’s dangerous, having every season on Netflix, I tell you. But you can always stop… well, except during the Green With Evil plotline. That’s a non-stop, two-and-a-half hour commitment. Accept it and move on.

Then there’s the ‘Pokemon Factor,’ as I’ll call it. You can collect all the Rangers, so to speak. In fact, that’s what Super Megaforce was all about: collecting all the other Rangers (Okay, not technically, but there was certainly a good bit of appeal in getting to see past Rangers returning.). There’s a crap-ton of them, let me tell you. There’s the stupid TV effect, which is the same reason fifty year olds watch Spongebob: sometimes you just need something simplistic to fill the house with noise, or to decompress at the end of a long day.

And really, is Power Rangers the worst thing? It’s hardly the only thing adults enjoy that wasn’t marketed at them. The Hunger Games. The Chronicles of Narnia. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Digimon. But Power Rangers catches so much more flack than any of those. Every single one of those is great. I love them. I’ve dissected A:TLA a dozen times to look at different aspects of it. I devoured The Hunger Games in two days, easily. They weren’t made for me at the time I got into them, but that doesn’t make them invalid. No one tries to invalidate them, either. Not the same way they’ll try to invalidate a love of Power Rangers.

It’s hard to make non-fans understand why we love it so much, but I’m here to tell the other fans out there that it’s cool. Power Rangers is still cool, after all this time. Whatever you like about it is awesome, no matter what anyone says about it.

And to those who aren’t fans (yet), I have a challenge: find that friend you think is a little weird and ask them to give you the best of it. Whatever they think is the number one season or episode, or the one they think you would personally like the most. Whatever it is. Let them take you on a journey. Take that first Power Rangers joint, drag deep, and see if it’s not a gateway drug.


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