Like so many other children of the 90s, I grew up watching some of the best cartoons and television shows around – it was kind of like the glory days of kids TV. Some of the shows were just plain fun, some of them were super exciting and action-packed, and some provided me with important life lessons. But there was one show that stood out above the rest that actually checked all of those boxes, and then some: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Join me as we hop in the way-back machine and take a look at 5-year-old Josh sitting down to watch the very first episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on Fox Kids. I was less than a month away from my sixth birthday, and like so many other bright-eyed boys, I thought I was pretty cool. But then I met the “teenagers with attitude” from Angel Grove, California, and I instantly realized that I could be so much cooler than I ever thought possible. I followed the adventures of Jason, Zack, Kimberly, Trini and Billy pretty religiously for the entire first season, and I didn’t stop there – I devoured all the MMPR content I could get my hands on, loved all the shows, watched all the movies, and owned as many of the kickass toys as I could get my hands on (many of which I still own to this day). At the time the shows and movies and video games were cranking out, I just thought it was something cool, something fun to watch, but looking back on it now I’ve realized that it was so much more to me than a show about superhero teenagers – it was a show that taught me a lot of positive things, and really helped me fight through a rough patch in my life.
It wasn’t too long after MMPR premiered that I started to run into some issues in my life that really got me down as a kid. A myriad of difficult obstacles were placed in front of me, and that included some pretty substantial weight gain. Throughout most of elementary school I was nicknamed “hey fat kid”, so, you know, it was a pretty exciting time for me. I was bullied pretty relentlessly because I was the quirky, silly, overweight, nerdy kid that avoided conflict at all cost. Basically, I was a prime target for your run of the mill bully. That wore me down pretty hard for much of my elementary school career, until one fateful day in 5th grade.
I was walking home from the bus stop when the bullying started, like it almost always did, from one of the kids in my neighborhood. This time he wasn’t bringing up my weight, or my glasses, or any of the other common things he focused on. No, this time he focused on one of my prized possessions, a birthday present I had recently received – a brand new Mighty Morphin Power Rangers backpack. “Hey stupid, nice backpack, how old are you again?” was how it all started. He kept going, I kept trying to ignore him because I felt like if I didn’t feed the beast, he wouldn’t keep following me. After about 10 minutes I had had enough, and I’m not quite sure what came over me, but as he reached to grab my Red Ranger pack off my back, I whipped it off my own shoulders and began walloping him with it. I gave this bully a serious taste of his own medicine with a Power Rangers backpack – man, he must have been embarrassed!
Now, I don’t share this story with you because I condone violence – in fact, I’m typically the exact opposite. But instead, I share this story because there was something I realized I learned from watching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers at that time in my life. I learned that at some point there will come a time where you really need to stand up to the bad guys trying to keep you down. Now, not all the villains we face are things like monsters made of gold or an evil alien witch from the moon. In my case, it was a bully in my neighborhood that never left me alone for two years, until the fateful “Red Ranger Backpack Incident”. And after that day, that bully never messed with me again. In fact, from that moment forward I had a different kind of pep in my step, more confidence, higher self-esteem. I still struggled with weight problems, all the way until I was a sophomore in high school, but it didn’t matter. I respected myself and stood up for myself at every single opportunity, and while I’m sure I may have gotten there eventually, I truly believe that had I not been so invested in a Fox Kids TV show, it might have taken a whole lot longer.
Now, it’s 2017 and I’m a 30-year-old man with a five-month-old daughter. While I may be “older”, I still look for as many opportunities to wax nostalgic and reminisce about my younger days by watching old movies or binging on old television shows. Recently, I realized that Netflix had started showing the OG Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and one night as my infant daughter was fighting sleep stronger than ever, I decided to throw it on and see how it made me feel, and boy, let me tell you that the feels were real. I instantly could see myself sitting on the floor watching on my tiny cathode TV. I closed my eyes and saw myself fighting imaginary putty monsters in my yard with my White Ranger sword. It felt good to sit back and remember those days and what it took me to get where I am today. I know, it may sound silly to say that a show like MMPR had this kind of profound impact on me, but it’s 100% true. And I didn’t realize how true that was until I showed up to work at Loot Crate yesterday.
I’ve met celebrities before, and I’ve interviewed them before. Heck, I’ve even acted alongside celebrities. But I don’t think I have ever been more excited, or fanboyed harder, about meeting a celebrity than I was when I met Walter Emanuel Jones and David Yost yesterday – the original Black and Blue Power Rangers! I had an incredible opportunity to hang out with them for a day, interview them about their experiences with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and share with them how the show impacted my life. And I’m not the only one! They shared with me story after story of how they hear from fans all around the world that their show positively impacted their lives. Whether it was struggling with bullies, struggling with being different, struggling with prejudice or anything in between. It’s clear that the show has not only entertained for decades, but it’s also helped people get through some pretty rough times, and it was a genuine honor to get to hang out with them and add a new story to their long list of success stories. (We taped the interview for Looter News, by the way, that’ll be coming up next week so stay tuned for a great chat with Walter and David!)
So this is a shoutout to all my Mighty Morphin Power Ranger fans out there with their very own MMPR stories, and a huge shoutout to all the Rangers themselves: Thank you for years of guidance and life-lessons that you gave to all of us while you were protecting the city of Angel Grove. We’ve all got our own versions of Angel Grove to protect now, and many of us are more prepared for it thanks to you.