Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Subversive Sexuality of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers

A helpful primer by Philip J Reed, of Noiseless Chatter

I've enjoyed my friend Karasu's reviews of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (to a point) but there's always been one purple, throbbing elephant in the room that he seems distractingly reluctant to address.  I can't fault him too much for this fact; Karasu has a fondness for the show that stretches all the way back to his childhood, and to dig into its saucier aspects must feel to him like an exercise of disrespect.

Nevertheless, this blind spot represents a failure of journalistic integrity, and as the weeks go by and he still refuses to discuss the obvious sexual subtext in what was meant to be a show for children, I become more and more frustrated on behalf of you, my fellow reader, who is expected to wade through this meandering nonsense that never acknowledges what is (arguably) the most important theme that runs through the show.

For this reason, I've asked Samurai Karasu to step aside for the week.  (It turned out that he was already going to be on vacation; this worked out well.)  And I will do for you what he never did.  I will open (at long last) for intelligent discussion the hyper-sexual undercurrent of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. 

I'm limiting myself to 7 of the most intriguing examples...the ones that I hope will provide you with the most food for thought.  That means that some of the more obvious and often-referenced instances (Scorpina being Scandinavian slang for forked clitoris, Finster creating the monster Leathersack, Lord Zedd's name being an anagram for 1966 torture porn Lez or Ded, etc.) will not be covered here.

Most of these you will already know, but I hope at least some of them help you to see the show in a new and profane light.  Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers left a legacy of erotic confusion and retarded sexuality to an entire generation of viewers, and if we're ever going to heal, we need to start talking about it.

7:   Kim-Barely!

Did you know that at many points, the main American cast members are not actually in the Ranger suits?  Of course you did.  Stunts are dangerous, and poor ventilation often caused the actors to hallucinate and, in the case of the original Blue Ranger (Scotty The Cheese LaBrie), stumble fatally into traffic. But did you know that in just under half of the Pink Ranger's appearances, Amy Jo Johnson was replaced by porn star Bree Olson?  Johnson was engaged in a years long custody battle to rid herself of several children, and Olson stepped into the thankless role in the hopes that it would eventually launch her acting career.  Sure enough, from her humble, embarrassing start on Power Rangers, she went on to star in more respectable fare, including Big Boob Orgy, Destination: Tonsils, and Ass Parade 29. 

6:   The Boxer Briefing

One of the show's most beloved running gags involves Bulk revealing his pig-ornamented boxer shorts to his classmates.  (Often in concert with his catch-phrase, Hakka-hooo!)  But as early shooting scripts reveal, this was not intended to be a mere sight-gag.  In fact, it was a very impressive example of character building through wardrobe.  Originally, after the ninth time we see the pig boxers (episode 2), Jason was to take Skull aside, and ask him outright why his fat bully friend wore underpants covered in cartoon pigs.  Skull's tearful response:  It's the pork, Jason.  Can't you see it's the flipping pork? was a bit controversial for audiences at the time (who hadn't yet known the mandatory homosexual coupling of the Obama administration), and the entire arc which was originally to have been resolved in the first season finale, The Other Other White Meat was sadly abandoned. 

5:  Beautiful Dreamers

Fan-favorite baddie Mr. Ticklesneezer might have ended up being a figment of Trini's dream, but the true shock of the episode came after that reveal.  In a deleted scene available on the Region 6 Collector's MegaSet, we see that Trini's reality is even more nightmarish, as we pan over the bed to see that she spent the night with Baboo.  While this does explain why she seems to cough up blue ink midway through the next episode, it's ultimately for the best that this scene found a home on the cutting room floor, leaving artful the romantic tension between those two characters intact.

4: Toys Will be Toys

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was a merchandising juggernaut, with toys ranging from action figures to guns to action figures with guns.  But tragedy struck in early 1994, when a Galoob packing error resulted in the latest Power Ranger Power Rifle becoming a PR nightmare!  Due to factory oversight, the similarly named Doubly Fistin' Prostate Rammer was released to toy stores throughout the United States, complete with functional trigger retraction action.  A recall was out of the question, as such an admission would only bring unwanted attention to the error in the first place.  It wasn't until almost ten years later (in the memoir Getting Inside My Fellow Rangers by David Yost) that Saban's ingenius solution was revealed:  the powerful sex-toy was written into the show as Billy's trusty sidearm, which he called Charlene.  Crisis averted, Galoob and Adam & Eve entered into a business relationship that thrives to this day.

3:  Slipple

There's no way to put this tactfully:  episode 32 featured a brief shot of Paul Schrier's tits.  While nip slips are common in children's programming, this was left mistakenly uncensored in the final broadcast edit.  Immense pressure from the powerful Brassieres for Males activist group failed to effect change, and the pornographic scene was included on the VHS collection Bulk Goes Hawaiian.

2:   Excuse Alpha's Christmas

Series highlight Alpha's Magical Christmas did a lot of excellent work in terms of building out the Power Rangers universe.  For instance, it demonstrated that the Command Center was located within unsupervised walking distance of a child labor camp.  It also introduced many classic Rangers characters to the show, such as Santa Claus, Jesus, and Good King Wenceslas.  But during filming, suit-filler Romy Sharf had a little too much eggnog, and broke down during a performance of (Ev'rybody's Waitin' for) The Man With the Bag.  He lamented at length the sad Christmases of his youth, several of which involved the stalking, kidnapping, and sexual assaults of his family members by a red-suited drifter who remains at large to this day.  As far as Alpha's Magical Christmas goes, the scene was unusable as filmed.  But in terms of hilarious outtakes, it's sure hard to top!

1: A Hoot and a Holler

Definitely one of the more interesting Easter eggs, have you ever wondered what, exactly, the Putties are hooting about?  It's easier to find out now than it was then, and all manner of rumors and theories certainly circulated at the time, but if you reverse their nonsensical blubbering, play it at half speed, and strip away the owl noises, you will hear a male voice reading the following:

Latitude: 38.881097 | Longitude: -104.758294

Needless to say, you will recognize these coordinates as belonging to Club Buddies, a Colorado Springs meeting place for bicurious gentlemen and their good friends.  Today, directions to this (actually quite well-maintained) club are just a Google search away, but during the original airing of the show, they were only available to children with access to a working astrolabe.  Those who did seek out this establishment and requested the Buddy Putty were certainly rewarded for their efforts...and even now, decades later, Club Buddies still honors the offer.  That's just one of many ways that the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers legacy lives on.  And, for my money, it's the best.

Philip J Reed is a guy who writes about ALF.  Don't bother him.


  1. I am ashamed to say that I took this completely seriously until something in the back of my mind made me realize that Bree Olson would have been 12 in 1992. I spent the rest of the article feeling very, very old.