Go, Go, Yellow Ranger!
The “Power Rangers” movie is doing unexpectedly well, and perhaps that has something to do with unexpected press surrounding the Yellow Ranger. The words “first” and “gay” have a Pavlovian effect on many queer fans of pop culture, and even more so for queer fans of superhero stuff.
It was big, albeit in a very small way. Despite all the headlines I’ve seen online, apparently “Power Rangers” skips any dramatic “yep, I’m gay” admission, and instead opts for nonchalance. During a bit of team bonding, Yellow Ranger Trini (played by Becky G) reveals that she doesn’t want her straight-laced family involved in her relationships.
“Boyfriend problems?” inquires another Ranger.
Then “Girlfriend problems?” he asks.
She doesn’t respond fully, but does say she’s never talked about her identity with anyone. The moment is short, but genuine; she’s a teen, after all, and she’s still Figuring Stuff Out. i see that all the time in High School, as a teacher, and it takes some students real time to figure out. Dean Israelite (the Director) told The Hollywood Reporter, it’s a “pivotal” scene for the film. More importantly, it’s a step in the right direction, and one that provides Hollywood its own “power boost.”
The stats for LGBTQ representation in film are… not good. They never have been.
As soon as word got out about the Yellow Ranger, social media lit up—both with outcry and support. Fans weren’t excited because there was a new LGBTQ character in a movie, they were excited because she was a major player in a big superhero franchise. And even better, it was presented in a matter-of-fact way. No fanfare, just reality. An organic character presentation.
Moving beyond “casual inclusion” of LGBTQ characters should be Hollywood’s next step. The movie’s public praise and box-office success gives a “permission slip” for more LGBTQ representation—especially in superhero and “tentpole” movies. While LGBTQ characters have been appearing in mainstream superhero comics and, more recently, on superhero television shows like “Jessica Jones,” they’re nowhere to be found in mainstream superhero movies. To be fair, there just aren’t that many “A-list” LGBTQ superheroes, because of the origins of the genre, and the time frame.
Still…the Yellow Ranger’s casual “coming out” was a huge milestone for the genre.