Back to Action: 12 “Morphinomenal” Lessons Remembered During My ‘Power Rangers’ Binge

Most people don’t believe that I was old enough to watch Mighty Morphin Power Rangers during its original run. Heck, most people don’t believe I was born prior to the turn of this century. But, alas, I have proof! Right over there: >>>

When Power Rangers premiered 24 years ago—August 28, 1993—I was on the cusp of turning six. Now, as I approach 30, I’ve seemingly reverted back to my elementary school days and, thanks to Netflix, I’m reliving my first childhood obsession. While it’s been more than two decades since we first met the Rangers, to me, it feels like yesterday. Here are just some of the lessons learned (and remembered) thus far during my binge in honor of the show’s anniversary:

  1. Billy the Blue Ranger was basically the glue that held the team together…

Jason might’ve been the ideal leader, but Billy was the brains behind the operation. He created the team’s essential gadgets, including the communicators that also allowed them to teleport in times of need. He designed the machine that ultimately transposed his brain with Kimberly’s, and he repaired the entire command center after the Evil Green Ranger sabotaged both Alpha 5 and Zordon. He could cure Alpha of any virus, and he could develop devices that’d rid the world of Rita’s monsters in his private lab. I think it’s safe to say that, if Billy were an actual person, he’d be more successful than Elon Musk by now.

  1. …and he’s the most handsome Power Ranger, too.

Don’t agree? Then you’ve obviously never seen this photo: >>>

Plus, when in glasses, Billy exuded that Clark Kent vibe, which—considering he’s his own sort of Superman—seems ever so appropriate (and attractive).

  1. Walter Jones, Zack the Black Ranger, should compete on Dancing with the Stars.

He had the moves back then and, if you check out his Instagram (@walterejones), you’ll see that he still has the moves now. He’d be the perfect contestant! ABC always tries to lure viewers using boy band nostalgia, etc. Why not hit us right in the childhood?

  1. Day of the Disappointment: That time I thought I was going to meet Walter Jones, but didn’t.

My mom took me to our local ice cream shop because “Zack the Black Ranger” was scheduled to make an appearance. We arrived semi-late, but still within the designated time frame, except it didn’t matter. Instead of meeting Walter Jones, we came face-to-face with some puny man in an oversized helmet—think Rick Moranis in Spaceballs. If you’re curious, no, I still haven’t met Walter Jones, but the ice cream shop eventually went out of business, so I guess karma really does come back to bite everyone.

  1. Tommy was destined to become the Green Ranger because he had the necessary wardrobe.

In Angel Grove, if someone wears the same color day after day, they’re probably a Power Ranger. Rita didn’t even need to second-guess herself when she transformed Tommy into the Evil Green Ranger because his clothing coordinated. How the other Rangers didn’t automatically zero in on him from the start I’ll never know. Tommy’s taken on many different colors over the years, though, which must get rather pricey. He must buy new clothes during each transition, after all.

  1. Sorry, Cory and Topanga, but Tommy and Kimberly were the true power couple of our time…

For some reason, 90s kids are still enamored with Cory and Topanga’s love story. Sure, they were cute, but if the writers had been realistic, Topanga would’ve moved away during Season Four, marking the end of their romance. Plenty of my friends moved away throughout the years, but their families didn’t move mountains just because their kid couldn’t bear to leave their friends.

Tommy and Kimberly, however, were truly meant to be. (Shh, don’t tell me what happens when Kimberly leaves the show! I haven’t gotten there yet…) Even the episode where Tommy lost his powers was ultimately happy because he got the girl. Every 6-year-old on the playground wanted to emulate these two—that’s why there were 20 Pink and Green Rangers running about at any given time—and deep down, we’re probably all looking for this sort of love because they ruined us forever and no one’s ever measured up.

  1. …but when it comes down to it, I’m all about that Billy/Trini friendship.

It’s hard to put this bond into words. Trini was always there to translate Billy’s scientific lingo, and she conquered her fear of heights to save him from an onslaught of Putties. Though Thuy Trang might be gone, she’ll never be forgotten… and I’ve got the sneaking suspicion that she was just as kind and smart in real life. That’s quite the legacy, if you ask me.

  1. Oh, and can we talk about Trini and Kimberly’s friendship, too?

Female friendships are often seen as superficial, as they always seem to devolve into competition over some man, or so popular culture would have us believe. But, when it comes to Kimberly and Trini, there’s nothing but love and admiration. Even Lord Zedd’s evil jealousy spell couldn’t tear these two apart. Their example was subtle, yet perfectly attuned to their target audience.

  1. Bloom of Whom: Apparently I used to think Kimberly’s name was Geranium.

My mom claims that, before I started watching the show myself, I thought the Pink Ranger’s name was Geranium. Honestly, I don’t remember this at all, but if my mom’s correct, then I suppose she should just be glad her 6-year-old could even say Geranium in the first place. Once I can finally time travel, I’ll visit my younger self and save her from years of embarrassment.

  1. Every time I rediscover something I’d completely forgotten, I get to relive my childhood.

Some things are hard to forget. For instance, I’ll never forget that I hated “Calamity Kimberly” (S1 E31) because she didn’t deserve to get stuck in that jar/barrel/jug thing. But when I rediscovered the RADBUG, I squealed with delight! I’d also forgotten about Scorpina and the Thunderzords. I can’t wait to see what else I have yet to remember.

  1. Affirmative: I’m tempted to adopt some of the show’s catchphrases and use them in everyday conversation.

While 1995’s Clueless brought us countless catchphrases that we still use, albeit ironically, today, Power Rangers was a 90s gem that was just slightly ahead of its time. Highlights include:

“It looks totally far out and funky down the drain, dude.” –Kimberly, “Clean-Up Club” (S1 E37)

…and, of course, this glorious moment from “A Bad Reflection on You” (S1 E38).

Oh, how I pity today’s youth. Their lingo will never be as “morphinomenal” as this.

  1. Parents who found fault with the show’s “violent” nature clearly never watched an episode in its entirety.

Adults are notorious for blowing things out of proportion. Many thought Power Rangers was “too violent” for young children back in the day. But, if they bothered to watch the show, they would have realized that, from Day One, the Rangers never escalated any fight without cause. (It’s quite literally one of the stipulations that came along with obtaining their powers.) Even when teaching martial arts classes, Jason and Tommy always emphasized the fact that the skills should be used in cases of self-defense only.

Instead, parents should’ve focused on the underlying themes of friendship and teamwork. From the environment to animal welfare, the Rangers strived to bring peace and love to Angel Grove and the world with every breath they took. They fought battles great and small, and they’re still worthy idols today, for their fight—the good fight—rages on. We might not have special powers, but together, we have the power to overcome the monsters that threaten our world right now.

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If I Could Save Time in a Capsule

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’re probably aware that I’m currently obsessed with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Somehow, within the last month, I’ve reverted back to my 6-year-old ways and now I cannot get enough of those teenagers with attitude. But, last week, just before reaching the episodes where Tommy regains his powers—one of the most important events of 1994, as you might recall—I came across something that made me hit rewind multiple times.

Source: RangerWiki

During Episode 47, “Reign of the Jellyfish,” the Power Rangers are tasked with burying their class’ time capsule in the park. Rita Repulsa wreaks havoc before they can complete their mission, but the ensuing battle wasn’t what caught my attention. Instead, it was the conversation the five Rangers had at the end of the episode that truly hit home.

Jason: You know, I hope the people who open this time capsule in the future live in a peaceful and friendly world…

Kimberly: …with no hatred…

Billy: …no prejudice…

Trini: …no crime…

Zack: …and no wars.

Then, the following day, chaos broke loose in Charlottesville, VA, amplifying the message behind this episode even louder than before. While the Rangers dreamt of peace and harmony, reality unveiled a present unlike any future they could’ve ever imagined. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists flooded the streets, drowning our nation in the very hatred and prejudice the Rangers denounced nearly 24 years ago.

Unfortunately, the dissonance hasn’t relented. Racists have found validation in Donald Trump’s reluctance to condemn their actions, and protesters find their efforts infinitely more difficult now that the alt-right feels empowered. We’re on the brink of repeating history because those in charge clearly haven’t learned from the mistakes of decades past, and many feel disheartened by the overwhelming anger that permeates almost every facet of our daily lives.

But, when all hope seems lost, it’s the final exchange in this all too relevant episode that inspires optimism.

Kimberly: Think it’ll ever happen?

Jason: If we all do our part, and try to get along with each other, yeah, I do. We’ve just gotta hope for the best.

While this dream world might seem particularly distant to us right now, we have the power to change the future. It’s our love, not their hate, which will win out in the end, but we must not lose sight of this goal. Hatred can only win when there’s a vacuum—when all those fighting for what’s good and right have given up. If we insist upon holding these bigots accountable, including Trump, they will inevitably retreat.

Source: CNN

More than hoping for the best, we must also do our best. We must spread kindness and love wherever we go. If you find yourself in a position of privilege, then you must use your platform to speak for those who have no voice. As Jason said, we must do our part and try to get along with one another. There may be countless people who wish to return to a time defined by hate and cruelty, but we don’t have to look far to see that those who seek understanding and acceptance spread far and wide.

Grand gestures aside, anyone and everyone can make a difference no matter their situation. Simply holding the door for someone can go a long way in a world on edge. Smile at people who appear upset. Start conversations with people who aren’t exactly like you. Support those who feel invisible and unloved in today’s tumultuous world. Small acts add up quickly over time, especially when we all commit to becoming the best we can be. We might not be able to cut these enemies down to size with the wave of the Power Sword, but through kindness and community, we will ultimately eradicate evil every time it rears its ugly head.

MTV Presses the Rewind Button, Brings ‘TRL’ Out of Retirement—but Why?

Source: ABC News

For television executives, future success seems to lie in the past. From sequel series, such as “Raven’s Home”, to reunion reboots, such as “Will & Grace”, many TV networks are turning to old favorites to attract new audiences. Yet, while nostalgia certainly seems to sell these days, MTV’s upcoming “Total Request Live” revival fails to take the passage of time into account.

When “TRL” began its initial run in 1998, life was much different than we’re used to now. YouTube was still about seven years away from its debut, internet connections were primarily of the dial-up variety, and cell phones were bulky, analog devices that belonged to businessmen and… well, Zack Morris. Texting wasn’t possible, but beepers were still popular, and killing time on the “World Wide Web” meant monopolizing your family’s landline. Without music television, video never would’ve killed the radio star.

By the time “TRL” called it quits in 2008, the world had transformed dramatically. Smartphones existed, even if they weren’t yet widespread, social media was on the rise, though it didn’t retain the same level of influence it does today, and nearly every video you could imagine was accessible on-demand thanks to Wi-Fi networks.

Now, nearly 10 years later, MTV’s already fighting an uphill battle before “TRL” even premieres.

First and foremost, the team must tackle the elephant in the studio: social media. For those of us who grew up during Carson Daly’s “TRL” days—the days before DVR and live-streaming—our idea of “sharing” was talking about the latest Britney Spears video the next morning before the first middle school bell rang.

Source: Scott Gries/ImageDirect

Today’s teens and tweens, however, will likely spend more time staring down at their smartphone screen than their TV. Perhaps that’s why the network plans to split hosting duties among five VJs during this go ’round—they need to satisfy this generation’s self-induced ADHD. How they’ll integrate social media remains to be seen, of course, but it’ll likely distract the viewers from the true premise of the show.

MTV will also have to pad the show’s latest incarnation with plenty of appearances and performances by today’s top artists if the network hopes to gain and retain the interest of these fickle viewers. Anyone can watch the hottest music videos of the day via YouTube now—a luxury unavailable to its original audience—so even the countdown alone won’t draw people in, no matter how interested they might be. Plus, anyone who’s ever watched “TRL” knows that they only play videos in their entirety when they premiere and when they retire, so if they stay true to the nature of the show, they’ll need to find a way to alleviate the subsequent disappointment.

While “TRL” was our reason to rush home back in the day, it doesn’t hold much allure for modern audiences, at least not in its original form.

MTV lost its way for years as executives focused on developing reality programming that disregarded the “M” in “music television” entirely—think “Jersey Shore” in all its spray tan glory—but the current leadership hopes to return the network to its lyrical roots. If executives can channel today’s young music lovers’ fascination with social interaction and use these behaviors to enhance the “TRL” experience, they might just attract the audience they seek.

As for us oldies? We will probably take the Carson Daly route and leave well enough alone. If you need us, we’ll be off in the corner relearning the dance moves to “Bye, Bye, Bye” for old times’ sake.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Playground Politics for the Trump Era

We should’ve seen it coming.

The moment Senate Republicans refused to hear Judge Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination—screaming “La La La” with their fingers jammed inside their ears, no doubt—our democracy transformed into the middle-aged, predominantly male version of Mean Girls.

“You can’t sit with us!”

Republicans were determined to attain ‘Queen Bee’ status no matter who got burned in their wake. Most didn’t seem to care how such actions might undermine democratic tradition, as they were merely out for revenge against President Obama. Garland’s credentials were hardly relevant—his bid floundered before it even had the chance to flourish.

But now, as Senate Republicans once again work to subvert our country’s founding principles by stealing health care from 22 million of Americas most vulnerable citizens behind closed doors, it’s clear to see that these behaviors weren’t the exception, but instead, the new rule.

Melodramatic as it may sound, Donald J. Trump’s fledgling presidency, and the contentious campaign on which it was built, exacerbates this trend toward infantile impulsivity. After all, those drafting the latest version of the health care bill essentially established an offshoot of the boys’ club we all know D.C. to be. At this point, it’s not even far fetched to imagine these 13 men congregating in some makeshift treehouse with a “No Girls Allowed” sign tacked to the door.

For modern Republicans, party “trumps” people, so to speak. Despite the fact that these elected officials were chosen to represent their constituents long before Trump moved into the neighborhood, they seem desperate to remain in the good graces of the curmudgeon-in-chief. Few have had the backbone thus far to speak out against Trump’s polarizing policies, not because they agree with his views necessarily, but because they don’t want to lose their seat at the lunch table.

Most Republicans are so unprepared to defend their actions, in fact, that they’ve actually tried (and failed) to curtail press freedoms within the halls of Congress. Let’s just say, these so-called leaders never would’ve survived my eighth grade history class. Our teacher, Mr. Finn, warned us that, if we crossed paths in the hallway outside our designated class time, we might still be subject to an on-site pop quiz. No one enjoys being caught off guard, but when your grade’s on the line, you’ve got to use any opportunity you can to excel.

Of course, we are talking about the party that used the national debate stage to argue about the implications of male hand size, so perhaps shining in the spotlight isn’t their strong suit.

But at the end of the day, the bell tolls for those who’ve compromised their dignity to appease the man who, judging by the true results of the 2016 election, wasn’t actually the most popular candidate in America. Delaying the vote on a bill that’s more reminiscent of a death sentence cannot and will not absolve this group of the guilt associated with their methods, either. Their colleagues—on both sides of the aisle—must hold them accountable for its content and its creation.

Trump himself deemed the bill “mean” in a private meeting with Senate Republicans—and he’s the Regina George of this entire mess, so that speaks volumes. Yet, even if the bill still isn’t as “kind” as he’d prefer, there’s no doubt that he’d sign it into law if it manages to pass. Like the rest of his cohorts, he’s determined to destroy Obama’s legacy by any means possible.

From climate change to Cuban relations, Trump will scribble his name on any executive order or piece of legislation that undoes Obama’s landmark achievements, even if it means compromising America’s future in the process. He’s all about spectacle, not substance. “Getting things done” means nothing if, in the end, everything’s come undone.

Maybe, if we promise to stick a gold star at the top of each document that crosses his desk, Trump will finally sign something that benefits the greater good.

 

Who Are You to Criticize Someone Else’s Happiness?

Every time tragedy strikes, celebrities and school choirs come together to sing “What the World Needs Now Is Love” in an effort to spread peace. When faced with immense sadness, we do everything in our power to emphasize the good and eliminate the bad. But the moment anyone expresses true happiness, it’s as if every Negative Nancy on the planet unites behind one giant megaphone to tout their disdain—those feelings of euphoria are clearly unfounded and they’re here to tell you why.

Last week, for instance, comedian Patton Oswalt and actress Meredith Salenger took to social media to confirm their engagement. While such announcements usually elicit an outpouring of “likes” and emoji-laced exclamations, Internet enthusiasts took the opportunity to hunker down behind their screens and anonymously expound their unsolicited opinions. You see, Mr. Oswalt’s wife, Michelle McNamara, died unexpectedly in April 2016 and, because he’s been so honest and forthcoming about his ensuing grief, these commenters clearly deserve to voice their concerns before these two consenting adults proceed with their impending marriage.

For some reason, the Average Joe seems to think they’re entitled to rain on someone else’s parade just because the people in question happen to be celebrities. (Call me crazy, but living life in the limelight shouldn’t mean you must silently endure such abuse.) In this case, Mr. Oswalt’s critics chastised him for “moving on too quickly” after his wife’s death. Yet I can’t help but wonder—what constitutes “too soon” and who are these naysayers to judge?

There’s no doubt that Mr. Oswalt was crushed by the loss of his wife. His gut-wrenching Facebook posts and subsequent interviews are testament to his undying love for Ms. McNamara. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve this new love he’s found. Loving once doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to love again, timing be damned. His life was torn to shreds with no warning, so why would this man—this man who knows how precious every minute can be—wait for the rest of his life to begin just because complete strangers might not approve?

In this situation, the only other party besides Mr. Oswalt and Ms. Salenger who has any real right to their opinion would be Mr. Oswalt’s 8-year-old daughter, Alice. Judging by Ms. Salenger’s recent Instagram posts, however, she’s definitely onboard. Who are we to deny this young girl another person who loves her? More love doesn’t dilute the love that already exists. Instead, that love grows and expands until it consumes all those touched by its warmth and its light.

If you’re that interested in judging others, purchase a gavel—that way you can whack yourself across the knuckles every time you consider adding your two cents. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. No matter how transparent someone might seem online, you’ll likely never know the full story.

To put it simply, love and let love. After all, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.

Images courtesy of Meredith Salenger’s Instagram

Trump’s War on Women Includes Mother Nature

Women’s bodies are always under public scrutiny. We’re on display from the moment we’re born. Why do you think so many of the naked babies featured in films and advertisements are clearly girls? Even before we learn to command our own bodily functions, our bodies are not our own.

And ever since Trump and his cohorts came to town, it seems almost illegal to inhabit the female form.

Sexual assault victims, as it stands, will soon be treated as accomplices of their own attack if the GOP has anything to say. Under Trumpcare, victims will no longer have access to safe abortion services, should the need arise, leading them to take matters into their own hands or carry the child to term—an alternative to the traditional life sentence. Because rape will soon count as a pre-existing condition, victims likely won’t be able to afford maternity care and mental health services either, forcing them to pay—both monetarily and emotionally—for the sins trespassed against them.

Of course, while women are nothing more than “second-class” citizens whose only crime was being born, Trump has chosen to tackle an even greater foe of the female variety—Mother Nature. By pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Trump has stripped Mother Nature of her rights. And she will not remain silent.

Source: kellybdc/Flickr

While women continue to speak out against the injustices we face, it’s easy for the predominantly white, male Republican Party to brush us off as nothing more than noise. But Mother Nature? No, she will never go quietly into the night. No matter how deep their denial flows, lawmakers cannot and will not put an end to climate change by pretending it doesn’t exist.

Because it does exist. Anyone with common sense and an eighth grade education will agree. We’ve failed our planet and, in response, our planet has begun to fail us. Why do you think the massive crack in Antarctica’s ice shelf grew 11 miles in only six days? Why do you think the once-vibrant Great Barrier Reef now suffers from coral bleaching and imminent death? Why do you think koalas, polar bears and countless other animal species are struggling to survive in their evolving habitats?

It’s downright preposterous that the political party that so closely associates with the pro-life movement continues to pursue policies that imperil the lives of those who are and those who will be. They might not live to experience the repercussions of their decisions, but their children and grandchildren certainly will. Even great wealth won’t save them from what’s to come.

Remember when Cal, played by Billy Zane, tries to bribe his way onto a lifeboat in Titanic? While Mr. Murdoch takes the money initially, he ultimately throws the stack back in Cal’s face as he says, “Your money can’t save you anymore than it can save me.” No amount of money will ever be able to reverse the damage Trump’s decision will inflict.

We are all in the same boat and everyone’s the captain—if the U.S. proves to be the iceberg that destroys the world’s environmental efforts, we’re all going to go down with the ship.

Government officials and their law enforcement lackeys can continue to treat women like one collective menace to society, but they cannot punish Mother Nature without being punished in return. Climate change will persist no matter how fervently the GOP resists. We might not be able to leave this planet in a better state than it was when we arrived, but we can do everything within our power to make the future brighter for those who don’t yet have a say.

In this instance, Trump shouldn’t be concerned with the people of Pittsburgh or Paris. When it comes to Mother Nature, he should focus solely on the children of tomorrow. He has an 11-year-old son, after all. Such disregard for science should be considered some form of negligence, if you think about it. In fact, it’s downright criminal.

 

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(This post originally appeared on the Ms. Magazine Blog.)

Trashin’ Fashion 2017: Trends That Need to Get Canned

Fashion can be quite fickle. What’s popular one moment might be shunned the next. It’s difficult for anyone to remain trendy when styles tend to change with the direction of the breeze. However, then there are those trends that never seem to relent. They pop up out of nowhere and they refuse to disappear. Though potentially appealing at the start, their sickening prevalence turns them into an inevitable eyesore. Here are some of the latest styles that need to call it quits:

Chokers. Have you ever noticed that everyone who wears a choker looks like they’ve had their severed head reattached? Sure, some of these necklaces are actually quite pretty, but the ones that look like “tattoos” need to go. I used to wear one back in the day when they were first cool, but I never thought this trend would reemerge so soon. Take it from someone who’s been there—don’t wear one unless you want to look like some sort of zombie in all your photos from this time of your life.

Cold shoulder and off-the-shoulder tops. Shopping loses its appeal when every single shirt looks identical, and this year, none of them seem to have shoulders. Many have holes cut from the sleeves, hence the “cold” shoulder moniker. While the trend isn’t awful in moderation, it’s exhausting to find that every designer and brand can’t seem to diverge from this style. Off-the-shoulder tops are becoming equally as common, unfortunately, as anyone who’s ever worn one can attest to the fact that lifting your arms will leave you disheveled afterward. Clothing that leaves its wearer immobilized doesn’t seem all that fashionable to me.

Rompers. Behold, the perfect ensemble for adult babies everywhere! We all know they’re onesies for those who’ve outgrown their diapers, so don’t try and sugarcoat things by claiming rompers are comfortable. Yes, choosing an outfit might be easier because the top and bottom are fused at the waist, but there’s nothing convenient (or pleasant) about having to strip down to you skivvies every time you need to use the restroom. Plus, there’s nothing worse than coming upon an attractive dress on the sale rack only to discover it’s shorts.

Gladiator sandals. When sweat and sunburns are in the forecast, it’s rather ridiculous to wear cages around your calves. You cannot wear these sandals during prolonged periods outdoors because they’ll leave you with the worst tan lines imaginable. Plus, we all know they’re not made with absorbent material, so you’re bound to become a hot, sticky mess up and down your legs. Gladiator sandals aren’t even remotely attractive, so why suffer? Never sacrifice comfort just to conform to what’s “in” at the moment.

Crop tops. Technically, I’m not opposed to baring ones belly. If worn tastefully, crop tops can even look cute. But, in most cases, these supposed “shirts” are small enough to qualify as bras (for women of the A-cup variety, at least). Years ago, crop tops used to expose ones belly button—nothing more. These shirts still offered sufficient amounts of material. Now, however, even those with a moderately sized chest cannot wear crop tops without risking indecent exposure. NEWS FLASH: You don’t need to verbally body shame people to imply that their size and shape aren’t the ideal.

Now it’s your turn! Which styles should be banished for good? Share your choices and your reasons in the comments below!

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(This post originally appeared on Storia.)