Coloring that with coloring pencils while Jake and Leon were done on the computer was, in hindsight, a bad idea. But it does segue into tonight’s commentary, and it’s one I know you’ve all heard.
The first Black Ranger was a black man.
The first Yellow Ranger was Asian.
Before Tommy became the Red Ranger we learned he was Native American.
This is usually treated as, at the very least, racial insensitivity, although they’re given the benefit of the doubt by noting it was unintentional. It was still a horrible thing for Saban to do and they must never do that again. I’d like to quote Hilary Clinton, which it pains me to do as a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy but…..
what difference at this point does it make!
I confuse easy (and I’m sure someone will use that against me after noting I’m a conservative) but really, what does it matter? I thought we were supposed to be color blind? I’ve stated more than once that skin color makes no difference than hair or eye color, it’s just a different coloring tool or palette click in the image editor for me when I color them in. And yet last week I heard this bit again; somebody brought up that Walter Jones, a black man, was playing the Black Ranger and the late Thuy Trang, an Asian, played the Yellow Ranger. The part about Tommy I’ve also heard before. This was even brought up by Linkara during History Of Power Rangers. Who really cares? (We all care about Linkara, I mean the color thing.)
Due to scheduling I’ll probably get to the Press Junket before the panel even though the panel came first, but Walter Jones was at ConnectiCon this year (2014 for you archivists). If I understood and remember correctly he said they just wanted someone who can dance to play Zack Taylor because they wanted to have a martial arts style merged with dance. Had someone auditioned who knew capoeira (a martial art style that mixes dance into its practice) you might have had someone of Brazilian decent, or possibly still African as it was a way for slave to practice self-defense without freaking out their slave masters. Maybe they even had “Hip Hop Kedo” in mind but Jones is a darn good dancer. He even had a dance-off at his panel.
I don’t know what they had planned for the Yellow Ranger although Trini doesn’t sound like a name that would be given to an Arab. (Has there been an Arabian decent Ranger?) Trang wasn’t the first choice to play Trini, though. Audri DuBois was the Trini of the Pilot (the Power Ranger Wiki refers to her as “Pilot Trini”) and was a bit more willing to become a Ranger and more tomboyish. The only similarity was that they could translate Billy’s technobabble. At least nobody denies that Jones and Trang were rather good in their roles and DuBois wasn’t too bad but was replaced reportedly when she wanted more money. Her only other credit is some web series I’ve never heard of.
The thing that gets me is that it’s the people who complain about racial insensitivity who are the ones actually limiting future Power Rangers as to what they can be…based on their race! Black Rangers serve the role of second-in-command of the Power Rangers. When the Red Ranger is unavailable (due to injury, distraction, being trapped in another dimension, the usual Ranger stuff) the Black Ranger takes on that role, unless for some reason Toei (who produces the Sentai series Power Rangers gets their battle footage from) went with Green. (I guess no Orion Power Rangers if we ever get a Star Trek crossover.) This means that black people will never be the vice-leader unless they use a green costume that series.
In the same vein the Yellow Ranger serves as the morale booster (except for Wild Force; I’d give that role to the White Ranger on the first team that didn’t have a Pink Ranger), the one who keeps everyone’s spirits up. Can’t have an Asian person do that anymore. Also, oddly, most Japanese Yellow Rangers are male while that almost always goes to a female for Power Rangers. (Ninja Storm’s Dustin is the only one coming to mind where that wasn’t the case. There was also no Pink Ranger there and both versions had the lady Ranger in blue and the most level-headed of the original trio.) Apparently nobody cares about that. And if you’re Native American, hope you bought Jason David Frank as one because otherwise there will never be a Red Ranger in your future. You will never see yourself as team leader ever again.
(And for the record, Blue is either the smart one or the comic relief, which makes that one the most unbalanced of the colors, Pink…gets the ranged weapons and in Japan is usually the bubbly one, and Green and White Ranger roles alternate between series.)
And that’s the part that annoys me. Saban always goes for a multiracial cast and that I have no problem with. Since for some stupid reason the human race has yet to act like skin color is as meaningless as eye color (I’d go with hair color but I’m sure we’re not done with dumb blonde jokes or stereotyping redheaded people, all usually women) it does feel good to see “someone like yourself” as a superhero. There isn’t enough racial diversity in superhero comics or even movies without changing someone’s race between mediums. They shouldn’t do that and they also shouldn’t HAVE to do that, but that’s a commentary for another time. I fully support Saban and Disney’s choice, even if Power Rangers Samurai made a little less sense in the bargain. Samurai are native to Japanese culture because it’s native to Japanese history. It would be like having Arabs dress up as medieval knights. And I think I just came up with another commentary about cultural superpowers and character identities. Anyway….
My point is that Saban and Disney weren’t being racially insensitive (that’s the last time I’ll use that term tonight, sorry for ruining your drinking game) for ignoring what skin color was wearing what Ranger color, but by fans making it an issue they now have to ban certain actors from playing certain Rangers no matter how well they can perform a certain character type they came up with for that Ranger. Doesn’t that qualify as racial discrimination to you?