Sometimes I get an idea in my head and I become a dog with a bone. It’s weird because sometimes the idea is random and not even really like me but once it’s there it won’t go away until I see it through. A couple weeks ago I just had the thought that I wanted to see the new Power Rangers movie and that was that. I hadn’t seen any of the trailers and I had no clue who was in it (other than Becky G) but I knew that as soon as I had the thought I was going to watch the movie. Once my mind was made up I become a little obsessive and did some major researching. Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that this movie is basically a diversity dream.
Diversity and representation in the media is something that has always really resonated with me, and I’ve talked about this a little bit before. Growing up there weren’t many, or any, people on TV whom I could look at and see myself in. And what’s worse is when there is finally a spot for representation and instead of leveraging that, we see major white actors like Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson and Benedict Cumberbatch take those roles and perpetuate this cycle of whitewashing stories to appeal to a certain demographic. Ghost In the Shell is a perfect example: Hollywood bigwigs decided to cast Scarlett Johansson as the lead in a film based on a Japanese manga series. And people were (rightly) pissed. My sister said something to me that I feel really encapsulates what I’m trying to say; she said, “Oh man, Ghost In the Shell looks like it could be such a good movie but I feel like I can’t go see it because Scarlett Johansson”. When people (inadvertently or blatantly) say that whitewashing movies makes them more appealing, they aren’t talking about making them more appealing to everyone. They’re talking about a certain demographic (and I think we all know who I’m talking about here).
Which is why Power Rangers is the movie you should be going to see, instead. The greatest thing about Power Rangers is that there is actual diversity and not just the appearance of it for the sake of filling some unspoken quota. The movie provides representation for race, sexuality, and also – I’m not sure if this is considered a spoiler or not, so be warned – features a prominent character with autism (and I know that there are people out there who still don’t see themselves in this film – I’m not saying that it’s perfect, I’m just saying that it’s better.) For me personally, racial diversity and representation has always been something that I’ve struggled with because there has been so little of it for an Indian girl like myself. I was so excited when I found out that Becky G was in it because, and I think a lot of other people can understand this, I often feel like I relate to other minorities because it’s the closest thing to me, or sort of the next-best-thing. And then to see that there was not just one minority but three represented, I was ecstatic; 3 out of 5 was pretty damn good! And then to find out that actually, there were four because Naomi Scott who plays the pink ranger is half Indian, I basically lost it. AND they actually made her character half Indian, too (the actress they cast as her mom is Indian!), which was completely unexpected but awesome. I’m 22 years old and I squealed when I found out that there was going to be a Power Ranger that was like me (or actually very close to being like me); I can only imagine what it’s like for little boys and girls who are going to see this movie. And I can’t help but think that this is what progress in 2017 should look like, and not Matt Damon as a Chinese warrior. And I hope that it keeps progressing so that those little kids who are in the theatres right now can continue to see themselves in movies and shows and books and sports and grow up knowing that it’s possible.
I wanted to go see Power Rangers because as a kid I would wake up early and watch the show on TV before school and that’s what it reminded me of. But Power Rangers is more than that; it’s important because it shows that diversity can exist in a film that appeals to people. But only if we prove it. So that’s why you should absolutely cancel your plans to see anything else and go see Power Rangers instead.