Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Women's Roles in Power Rangers

 UPDATED 11/17/12
As I do with everything, I cover both Super Sentai and Power Rangers. Previously, I covered women's roles in Super Sentai, now it's the turn of the Power Rangers.

Kimberly may started out as a bimbo-esque cheerleader, but she was also a gymnast and she was allowed to develop as the show went along. And what many people forget is that she also knew sign-language and learned how to fly a plane by herself. She was very capable to handle situations on her own, once she calmed down of course. And Trini was a very self-aware person, she was fully-realized, she knew who she was, she had very little doubts in herself, except for of course, her fear of heights, which she quickly got over. The point is that Kimberly evolved.

If Super Sentai is infamous for showing scantly-clad women in elaborate costumes (the villainesses) or in swimsuits, the only case of this in Power Rangers was in the movie. Many of the villainess costumes from Sentai were not used because they were too quote-unquote 'sexy.' But maybe with the movie, Saban felt he could have more lee-way than he had with Saturday mornings. This was one of the most scantly-clad outfits in the whole franchise of Power Rangers. Could you have imagined Catherine Sutherland (Katherine Hillard) in this outfit? She auditioned for it.

Three females have gotten to be leaders of the Power Rangers. Only one was the leader in an entire season (Jen of Time Force). Delphine, who appeared for the 10-episode mini-series Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers and 2 episodes in Power Rangers Zeo, she was the first female leader ever. She was unquestioned in her abilities as the leader of the Aquitar Rangers.

Charlie was the leader of the A-Squad SPD Rangers. She was not revealed to be female until the last episodes of SPD. The Red Ranger was heard to have a male voice in early episodes, probably because producers hadn't decided her to be female until later on. Some fans have construed that she disguised her voice, one fan says the 'male' voice was a female voice altered. It has been said by Bruce Kalish that it took time to consider Disney to let there be a female Red Ranger. But since the A-Squad were made of recycled Power Rangers in Space costumes and no toys were based on them (since it is a boys franchise), it was excusable. I consider the A-Squad a team because SPD once considered them legitimate good guy Rangers once. Charlie was indeed the first female Red Ranger but she was part of a corrupted team and ended up being evil--and was Latina, could that understood as the stereotype of the Latino criminal? But, times have changed, so maybe it was just a coincidence. So her existence has its pros and cons.

 Lauren joins the Power Rangers Super Samurai as the technical second female Red Ranger but the first female Red Ranger of the official team and taking over from the male leader. The way is handled is in a non-sexist manner. Mike is uncomfortable with the new leader but not why she is not male but because she simply is 'not Jayden.' She is both a stern and kick-butt leader with quirky one-liners but also a sweet and sensitive woman. Having training and practicing her whole life, she is a bit sheltered and played for laughs (for example. enjoying Mia's cooking) but not so much since she is only around for a few episodes. She adds a new dynamic to the Jayden character and also to the cast itself.

Jen was a unique character as she always had to save Wes, the Red Ranger's butt. Sometimes he did save her, but she could stand on her own. Her drama was she lost her love, they were engaged, which is an old female staple but she dealt with the loss of a lover in a very equality-wise manner. She became cold and brazen but not in a negative way, she still had a soft side. And to add to feminist quota in a way, she never kissed Wes. Many fans complained that they didn't kiss, but according to Sarah Michelle Geller (in a TV Guide interview when talking about the soap opera "Passions"), it was even more sexy not to kiss, to leave to the viewer's imagination. Interesting concept, no? A female has never gotten a Battlizer or her own special armor (other than group power-ups). I have mentioned female ranger Battlizers that have happen in the toy line. The closest thing a female had gotten to have a Battlizer was when Jen came in Wild Force for the Time Force teamup and was black leather gear and a special weapon.

Speaking about Battlizers, there have been three Battlizers that Red Rangers have obtained thanks to a woman. In Lost Galaxy, Karone helped Leo find the Battlizer from a man she turned to stone back when she was Astronema. Leo gained the armor instead of Karone, who had to face her old self in order to obtain it. In Ninja Storm, it was revealed Shane met an alien Skyla (above) when he was a child and she returned to help him and she gave him his new Battlizer. As a Karminion, Skyla's death meant that her powers would be transferred to someone she deemed worthy. She chose Shane, and as she passed away, she left him with her powers. A female had to die in order for a male to gain more strength. And third, Rose created new technology using the Sentinel Knight and Mac used it to don a new Battlizer in Operation Overdrive. In the first two cases, women had to make sacrifices in order for men to get armor.

In Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, real-life tragedy led to creativeness and feminism, when actress Varlie Vernon had leukemia, Kendrix had to be written out of the season for a while. An idea of the Ancient Rangers (Dairanger) was scrapped, the episode "Power of Pink" came along, that tied in with the team-up with the Power Rangers in Space. In "Power of Pink," Cassie (Patricia J. Lee) and Kendrix fought against Psycho Pink, who had returned and was aiming against them. Psycho Pink targeted Cassie's morpher and was unable to morph. Kendrix saved her but had to sacrifice herself, she 'died' and was believed to be dead until the last episode and when the Galaxy Saber was returned to the rock on Mirinoi, Kendrix returned at full force. Karone came to replace her, Cassie was to originally replace her but was not happy with special guest star pay. Anyhoo, it was a great episode and Kendrix's death was not because she was weak but because she was strong and saved the day.

The Color Pink and Skirts
While I have mentioned before about the color pink and how in the past in America, pink was considered for boys and blue for girls, the color Pink has gotten hostility towards femininity. I highly believe it is ridiculous to equate a color with gender. Colors have no genders! They are just colors! It is really dumb to believe pink is only for girls. It is great that the heronies have one color over the boys, but all colors should be equal, so heronies should be able to wear red, black, green, purple, and dark blue and men can wear pink. And as for skirts, there are plenty of heronies that have had no skirt (especially the Yellow Rangers that their Japanese counterparts were men) but some people think the skirt should be taken away. I could take it or leave it, I like the skirts though, they are cute. And some people think they should get rid of pink because pink is 'not a real color' because it is a light red, but I think all the shades should get a chance (like Crimson, Navy and light Blue).

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