Yes, the Power Rangers are apparently still on television. No, their uniform colors no longer indicate their race.
Yesterday, one of the most culturally important shows in the history of television made its triumphant return, as the re-invented “Power Rangers: Samurai” debuted on Nickelodeon. The live-action cartoon is entering its mind-boggling 19th season, but it’s first on Nickelodeon.
Nearly 15 years since my exposure to the Power Rangers, it’s hard to forget the terrible costumes, graphics, special effects, and corny mid-battle sequence dialogue. But in retrospect the show had one glaringly obvious culturally insensitive faux pas — their color uniform happened to signify their race. The yellow ranger was Asian, the black ranger was African-American, the pink ranger was the hot white girl, and the white ranger was indeed a Caucasian male.
Growing up in the 90s, the “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” were obviously a huge part of my life. They taught me invaluable lessons in friendship, racial stereotypes, sick karate moves and how to fight evil-doers. Yes, I saw the original movie in theaters, and yes, I went trick or treating a ‘non-racist’ white ranger.
Millions of other kids did the same. This was exactly the type of show that parents argued advocated violence. And along with “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Side Kicks,” and the “Karate Kid” movies helped promote the karate-craze that stretched from the mid-80s to late-90s.
Seriously, at the age of 10 I’m pretty sure breaking a cinder block with my forehead was definitely an aspiration of mine.
Now the show is being retooled by Nickelodeon, complete with cell-phone looking morphing devices and politically correct costumes.
“This new season of ‘Power Rangers Samurai’ will feature all-new heroes, villains and special effects while keeping the core messages of friendship, teamwork and empowerment that the series has always exhibited,” said Nickelodeon exec Pete Danielson in a press release.
‘Power Rangers Samurai’ features five new Rangers who seek to control the elements of fire, water, sky, forest and earth under the guidance of their samurai mentor, Ji. They’re aided by animal Zords (Lion, Dragon, Ape, Turtle and Bear) as they battle the evil Master Xandred.
After seeing a clip (below) from the new show I’d argue that the special effects, costumes, dialogue, and cheap looking monster villains haven’t changed much since 1993. Except now our heroes races aren’t as easily identifiable in relation to their costume colors.