Thursday, September 16, 2010

Debate over the want of an Asian Red Ranger for 2011

With the recent post I did on the new cast for the yet to be titled 2011 season of Power Rangers, many commenter have expressed their disappointment in that the Red Ranger, i.e. the leader is Caucasian and not of Asian decent. In fact, ever since the cast was found out on Rangerboard, this debate has gone on. Before Saban even bought PR back from Disney, fans have wanted an Asian Red Ranger for the adaption of Shinkenger. Some believe purely because the series is Samurai-themed, that the leader must be Asian. Some others find this notion racist. Some of those aforementioned wanting an Asian Red Ranger, think having the Red Ranger in the upcoming season be white is racist. And others believe dwelling on this whole thing is silly. Now, I do admit that purely because it is a Samurai-season, doesn't mean we need an Asian leader. But it would be nice to have an Asian leader for once. In any season for that matter.

And I do not believe its not dwelling too much on race. I think it would just be fair and equal, as practically every heritage and race has been covered in the 18 seasons of Power Ranger, if not by the character but by the actor themselves (Nick of Mystic Force has Lebanese heritage even though his character wasn't and many actors have been Filipino even though their characters weren't stated as such). And we've had Latino, African-American and Islander Red Rangers. Pretty much every ethnicity and race has gotten to be every color, except an African-American has yet to be a Pink Ranger; an Asian Red Ranger; and a sixth Ranger has yet to be African-American or Hispanic, though there has been Asian sixth rangers (Eric of Time Force, Gem and Gema of RPM). But why is this important? Because it is fun to see everyone get a chance. And other reasons that I can't think of as of yet.

Actor Wise
Red - North American Caucasian, African-American, Latino, Samoan, Lebanese, Australian, and New Zealander. Austin St. John is of German, Native American, Irish, Japanese, Italian, and Spanish background and probably other seemingly Caucasian actors were of various origins as well.
Pink - North American Caucasian, Latina, Asian (including Filipino), Australian and New Zealander.
Yellow - North American Caucasian, Asian, African-American, Latina, New Zealander and Australian.
Blue - North American Caucasian, Latino, Asian, African-American, New Zealander, and Australian
Green - North American Caucasian, African-American, Asian, Latino, and Australian, New Zealander.

Black - African-American, Latino, Asian, British, North American Caucasian, and Australian.
White - North American Caucasian, Filipino, and Australian.
Sixth or Extra - North American Caucasian, Asian, Australian and New Zealander.

Character Wise:

Red - Caucasian (12-Jason, Tommy, Leo, Carter, Wes, Alex, Cole, Conner, Nick (I know I know), Mac, Casey, Jayden), African-American (3), Latino (2, Rocky & Charlie), Samoan (1, Shane), and Extraterrestrial (2, Andros & Aurico). Well technically Eric is a Red Ranger and he's Asian.
Pink - Caucasian (5-Kim, Kendrix, Dana, Jen, Syd), Latina (2-V and Rose), Asian (3-Cassie, A-Squad and Mia), Australian (1, Kat) and Extraterrestrial (1, Karone).
Yellow - Caucasian (8-Ashley, Kelsey, Taylor, Kira, Ronny, Lily, Summer, Emily), Asian (1-Trini #2), African-American (3-Aisha, Tanaya and Katie), Latina (1, Z), and Extraterrestrial (2, Tideus & Maya).
Blue - Caucasian (5-Billy, Justin, Tori, Sky, Flynn), Latino (3-Rocky, Blake, Madison), Asian (5-Kai, Chad, Lucas, Dax, Theo), African-American (4-TJ, Max, Ethan, Kevin), and Extraterrestrial/African-American (1, Cestro).
Green - Caucasian (1, Tommy), African-American (3, Damon, Joel, A-Squad), Asian (2, Adam & Cam), Extraterrestrial/Asian (1, Trip), Jewish (1, Bridge) Latino (2, Carlos and Mike), and Australian (1, Xander).

Black - African-American (2, Zack & Will), Latino (2, Adam and Danny), Extraterrestrial (1, Corcus), Asian (1, Adam), and Native-American/Caucasian (1, Tommy).
White - Caucasian (3-Sam, Dominick, Udonna), Latino (1, Trent), Filipino (1, Alyssa), Extraterrestrial (2, Delphine and Kat) and Caucasian/Native-American (1, Tommy).
Sixth or Extra - Caucasian (8-Tommy, Jason, Mike, Ryan, Merrick, Sam, Udonna, and Leanbow), Asian (4-Eric, Cam, Gem & Gema), Indistinguishable (Daggeron), Extraterrestrial (5- Trey, Zhane, Doggie, Kat, Tyzonn).


elijah_brenton said...

I think that this whole argument is silly. First of all, they are casted based on how well they can play the character and how well they can make the character believable. Just because the person maybe Asian doesn't mean that they can fulfill the character's characterization. Saying that the leader should be Asian because the team is Samurai based is RETARDED. Hello, Ninja Storm is based on Asian culture and was the leader Asian? No. Shane, to me, was a fantastic leader and very believable. You could definitely see a character growth in him and Pua did a fantastic job portraying the character of Shane. Number two, I think there was a list of the actors that auditioned for the parts of the Red Ranger and NONE of them were Asian so how can you say there needs to be an Asian Red Ranger when NO Asians auditioned for the part. ALL of them were Caucasian. Personally, I think people try to coordinate the Sentai TOO much with Power Rangers when in all aspects of reality, Power Rangers does NOT pale into comparison with Sentai at all. There has only been two seasons where Power Rangers were carbon copies of Sentai; one being very good and the other being very bad in my opinion (Time Force and Wild Force respectively). Saban has the freedom to cast whoever he wants to cast as the new team because he's not trying to recreate Shinkenger, he's making a new team of Power Rangers. This is probably hard for all of you Sentai gurus out there that has to nitpick at Power Rangers just because you don't think that it's doing Sentai any justice. My opinion, if you don't like the Red Ranger being white, then don't watch the new season. Keep living in your Sentai fantasy world while everyone else continue to bask in the ambiance of the new Power Rangers team. By the way, don't think that I'm a white supremacist because of what I'm saying because I am an African American. I just don't think that race is an important issue with the telling of this story, especially with this being a Samurai theme. To me, people are just trying to find reasons to complain and be nit-picky. True, you haven't seen any full Asians as leader, even though Jason (Austin St. John) is of German, Native American, Irish, Japanese, Italian, and Spanish ethnicity but you can't blame that all on Saban. If this was really such an issue, Disney would've made a Red Ranger Asian but clearly it's NOT an issue.

Casey said...

The fans who wanted the Red Ranger to be Asian in the Shinkenger adaption decided that it was the only sensible casting decision possible. The odds were simply against their satisfaction, and they set themselves up for disappointment and righteous indignation.

Mark said...

My oppinion: This is essentially the exact same "Mighty Whitey" thing that's been going on since WASPs became the "leaders" of the world. "Oh, Daniel-san! Look, let me teach you karate! And here's an Asian girlfriend! She will love you long time!" The thing is, name one movie in the past, say, 10 years that starred an Asian THAT WAS NOT A MARTIAL ARTS movie.
The basic assumption is this: if there's a black lead, blacks will see it. If there's a woman, women will see it. If there's a white man, EVERYONE will see it.
And it's not like I'm saying Asians should only be leaders in the Asian themed seasons. It's just that EVEN IN THE ASIAN THEMED SEASONS THEY AVOID ASIANS.

Luca said...

My ideal power rangers:

Red- Italian male, dinosaur, fire
Yellow- African American male, coyote, earth
Blue- White American female, dolphin, water
Green- White American male, capuchin monkey, laser
Pink- Hispanic female, alpaca, lightning
Black- German male, tiger, air
White- Russian male, deer, ice
Purple- Italian female, rabbit, sound
Orange- Arabic male, gazelle, space

Shurikenger said...

I don't think this has to be a long drawn out ranting discussion. I think Lavender Ranger has it right. Fans are annoyed that they haven't led Red be Asian yet. This new season is heavily Asian-themed. Many fans saw it as a perfect win-win, and a nice thing, but it's definitely not a must.

Sean Akizuki said...

With the Asian red ranger, I think it's not going to click that much at all. Why? IMO i think it has to do with the fact that there are more blacks and whites in America than there are Asians.

On the other hand, Asian mentors are still around. After all, in some of the movies, we see an Asian mentor training a white student in martial arts.

In my assumption, Power Rangers 2011 will deviate from Shinkenger's theme. I'm seeing them as just regular civilians called to defend, the usual routine.

Although I'm kind of disappointed about not having an Asian red, but I've begun to understand about that, well martial arts isn't limited to just Asians after all.

elijah_brenton said...

@Shurikenger: Not trying to make an argument but just to comment on your statement, I agree and then I disagree too. I feel like some fans have adapted themselves into Sentai so much that they can't differentiate between Power Rangers and Sentai. Since this is an Asian theme, some people just automatically feel like it should be an Asian person as the leader. At the same time, I can understand why this argument is being made BUT it should've been made YEARS ago. Power Rangers have been out for 18 seasons and people are just starting to notice that there's a white guy usually playing the role of Red Ranger. That's the reason why I think that people want the Red Ranger to be Asian; only because of the fact that it's an Asian theme, not because of the fact that there haven't been any full Asians playing the role of leader.

Lavender Ranger said...

Elijah and Sean, you guys have good points. Maybe PR fans just saw this as an opportunity to have something different, you get kind of tired of the white Red Ranger but also, they may have gotten used to Japanese actors in Sentai.

But it did seem like if it was a Hip-Hop theme, they would want an African-American leader.

Lavender Ranger said...

Oh, I must also add I agree with Shurikenger! Thanks for liking what I said too!

Luca said...

I actually read that the producer specified that red should be white. I guess they think it's most popular with white families, although I've seen just as many black kids as white kids running around with PR backpacks.

Lavender Ranger said...

About the backpack comment, I am a school teacher and I see all races with Power Ranger t-shirts and bookbags, most mostly it is Pre-K to second grade (7 to 8 years old).

Anonymous said...

I am dissapointed that this year's Red isnt an Asian. But the Asian theme isnt the issue. After 18 years, we still dont have an Asian redno matter what theme. At least this year we have to Asian characters that look competent, unlike the stupidity that is Gem, Gemma, Dax, and Theo.

Mateus Honrado said...

Firass Dirani, who played Nick Russell in Mystic Force, is of Iranian descent, not Israeli.