munchman: Life Lessons from Power Rangers

If you’re just reaching the neighborhood of being 30 years old, chances are that there was a time in your life when you watched the hell out of POWER RANGERS while your mother shook her head sadly and muttered something like, “Such a terrible waste of time….”

Well, we’re here to tell you that it wasn’t a waste of time at all. It was awesome prep for your future. (Whaddaya think of that, Ma? Oops, no, I didn’t say anything. Nope, not me. This guy, OTOH:

power rangersby Eric Ravenscraft

Kids shows are pretty cheesy. Power Rangers, doubly so. The idea of learning real, adult life lessons from the shows we loved as kids sounds silly, but sometimes things stick with you. Here’s what the Power Rangers taught me that actually stuck around. Seriously.

Don’t Let Other People Make You Feel Like Crap

Bullying isn’t a new trope for kids shows. In my day, though, there was no one who epitomized the nerdy stereotype more than Billy, the Blue Ranger. His role on the show was to be an egghead, despite the show’s heavy emphasis on solving problems by punching them. In the early episodes, people couldn’t even understand the way he talked. He needed someone else to translate his geek-speak into human words.

Being a nerd came with a lot of self-esteem issues, especially in the 90s, before being “geeky” became cool. The Rangers addressed this often, but it was especially poignant in an episode called Dark Warrior. In this episode, Billy gets bullied by the disgustingly lovable Bulk and Skull (again). Finally, he’s had it. He decides to learn martial arts to defend himself. At the end of the episode, though, he doesn’t use his newfound skills to take down the bullies (Trini’s invisible uncle takes care of that). Instead, he says, “I really just needed to prove to myself that I could do it.” In the end, what he felt about himself was more important than what others felt about him.

This was one of the hardest things to learn once I started writing professionally. Writing for the internet is extremely public. For a long time, I wanted to write, but I was terrified of putting myself out there. Best case scenario, my work would be read by a lot of people, many of whom would probably hate and mock it. Worst case, it wouldn’t get read at all. Neither felt like it would be good for my self-esteem. It would be a lot safer to just do my boring office job and keep my work to myself.

Billy never would’ve done that, though. Billy wanted to be part of the team, to make himself better and take chances. For a shy, scrawny nerd, he did rather well for himself. As the show went on, Billy became a better fighter and a better communicator. Oh, and he invented all kinds of gadgets the team needed, including their communicators, teleporters, and a freaking flying car. Rather than let the opinions of other people push him around, he used his skills to make the team better. Sitting out the fight wasn’t an option.

This lesson took on an even more sombre note when I became an adult and found out why David Yost, the actor who played Billy, eventually left the show. Off screen, David was bullied for his sexuality by producers and other crew members. Knowing that he was bullied off screen just as much as on screen hurt the child in me. At the same time, it made the lesson I learned from him all the more powerful. Despite the abuse, he stuck around for nearly 200 episodes and a movie. He was the only ranger to appear in every single episode of the Mighty Morphin series, and he was the second-longest running ranger ever. Being pushed around, insulted, and mocked never convinced him to stop doing his best work.

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