Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lavender Ranger Editorial: Technology is Magic

I am not literally saying that 'Technology is Magic' but it is a belief that is prevalent in fiction from the 20th and 21st centuries. Prime examples are in 1994-1998 American television series Weird Science (which was based on the 1985 film and Jem, which was based on the Habro doll line from 1985 to 1988. And various examples in Super Sentai, Power Rangers, VR Troopers, Kamen Rider and various other Tokusatsu. It is believed that any technology that doesn't currently exist is 'magic.'

 Weird Science
In 1985, personal home computers was still a strange notion and very little homes had them, they were not common place. The Inernet was not even called the internet yet. Yet this 1985 film made teens believe that they could make a woman out of a couple of pictures and a doll with their home computer. Computers and technology seem to be able to do 'anything' so the premise was passable for science fiction those days. As a kid, I accepted it and thought it was cool. In 1994, the internet was prevalent and it played part with Lisa, who was a genie and her powers were more 'magic.' Lisa was enigmatic and had strange rules that seem to be vague. One could say her powers were 'god-like' but they always came with a terrible consequence and she had a power source that villains would often want to destroy or steal. 

I am obsessed with this show, yes I know---especially if you look at my DeviantArt and Tumblr accounts. Synergy was the supercomputer that 'transformed' Jerrica into rockstar Jem. Supposedly she just made holograms of light and sound and a hologram went over Jerrica to project Jem but being a cartoon, there were various mistakes that would lead one to say it was 'technomagic.' One time they ask Synergy to make flames to scare robbers (except the robbers can't feel heat from it but still got scared), make a tidal wave and rain (but the villains would not be able to feel rain), and various size changes when vehicles changed and other mistakes. Anyway, Synergy was supposed to be advanced technology but seemed to be unstoppable and could project anywhere with no signal problems and had an unspecified power source. Girls franchises before and after were all about magic and Jem was very much like the 'Magical Girl' Anime theme but this one focused on 'technology.'

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
More specifically, Zordon. Zordon was a wise sage from another planet presumably and had access to the Power Moprhers which look like technology and Zords which were clearly robotic. The first seasons were clearly technology vs. magic, which was discarded in later seasons and somewhat touched upon in later seasons but only by coincidence by Super Sentai plot points. But since we can assume the technology Zordon had was 'alien,' it was much more advanced and almost magical. He could pluck 'five teenagers with attitude' with ease and see ANYTHING on his viewing globe, even if there didn't seem to be a camera in the place or even a villain's lair. That was very magic like.

 Super Sentai/Power Rangers
Super Sentai had various series that claimed to be 'technology' that seem to work like magic. Some off the top of my head are JAKQ, Goggle V, Changeman, Denjiman, Bioman, Jetman, and various others. With Shinkenger and Power Rangers Samurai, some people might believe that Mojikara and Symbol Power is god-like powers. But too much Mojikara or Symbol Power is deadly, overusing it does weaken the user. It can be argued that Mojikara/SP is ancient magic and Genta/Antonio simply brings magic to modern times with technology and that they fight magic WITH technology against magic.

 Kamen Rider
Many of the Kamen Riders (more than anything the Showa era) had to given some technology or ancient alien power. Some of them were part cyborg. But the technology they possessed were advanced from when they aired or even now. And this 'technology' almost seemed like magic. For example, Kamen Rider Ryuki displayed alternate mirror dimension and technology seem to make these Contract Beasts; Kamen Rider 555 had the Orphanchs that seem to be brought on by science and the list goes on and on. Also, the current Kamen Rider... Fourze, has a lot to do with technology, but like any Tokusatsu series, seems almost magic-like.

VR Troopers
'Virtual Reality' is already an antiquated idea. But even in the parameters of 'technology,' the Troopers did disappear and re-appear in different locations and times instantly but that had to do more with editing and stock footage. Also, their car flew... which we now know is a pipe dream. But back in the 90's, flying cars were the big thing... remember Back to the Future 2? Back in the day, we thought technology could do ANYTHING. Now I feel more grounded in reality. But we do have phones that can do almost anything... even more than a Power Rangers communicator or the VR Troopers' com devices (well... they had clearer video images from any location).

What I am trying to say is NOT that the ideas of flying cars, superhero technology and all the stuff in Tokusatsu might never happen and are poppycock but it is interesting how times have changed and how writers saw the future and technology. Some predictions were incorrect or too far fetched and some were very accurate. It is just interesting who Magic and Technology merge or coincide in Science Fiction, especially Saban's tokusatsu because it was designed for children and most logic flew out the window (like breathing in Space and gravity on the Moon).

1 comment:

xredmenacex said...

Since you are a Jem fan, you might be interested in this: http://io9.com/5916819/this-september-the-creator-of-jem-will-write-dc-comics-most-1980s-fantasy-heroine if you haven't already heard about it.