Public Service Announcements, an endearing component of children’s programming in the 80s and 90s that transformed 30-minute toy commercials into platforms for social change. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television series faced an additional challenge: At the height of popularity, the show depicted teenagers performing martial arts that were mimicked on playgrounds across the country.
Drawing from the “violence begets violence” mantra, it was prudent to nip the prospects of “children injuring themselves because of something they saw on Power Rangers” lawsuits in the bud before they arose. For your viewing pleasure (or something), I present to you the top 4 MMPR public service announcements.
Making Friends From Enemies
Our first two PSAs were practically interchangeable. The message: having strength and not using it. It’s a simple concept that most adults can’t master. Even today, I don’t know how effective this form of pacifism is, but who could forget Jason’s practice time disrupted by that angry youth? Yet, instead of making short work of the scrub, he skillfully avoids the flailing youth until he calms down. The two walk away, arm in arm, to talk over whatever it was that bothered the chap so much in the first place. We never did find out what that was all about– but I guess that wasn’t the point.
The famed “spilled milk” PSA was an anti-bullying campaign 20 years before its time. Tough guy picking on those smaller than him, yet when he runs into someone bigger, buckles under pressure. The bigger guy of course takes the high road, and shows us why fighting isn’t the way. Rocky and Adam get to share a very rare clever moment. Good for them.
You can’t teach empathy, yet the Ranger producers at Saban try their best in this alternative reality. A kid named Norm is on the path straight to hell, making fun of everyone that is different than himself. That is, until Kimberly shows him the light– it’s not so fun once the tables are turned. Remember, children: Do not act like an obnoxious blonde nerdy kid, lest you BECOME an obnoxious blonde nerdy kid. I think that’s biblical.
Billy and Kimberly are very heavy-handed in “Reality Check”, a 4th-wall-shattering bullet list of the contrast between real life and television. I can’t say I blame them. Power Rangers was at the height of its popularity, quite literally affecting the lives of millions of children across the world. On top of that, having the actors themselves reiterating that it’s only a show just makes sense. The downside: Billy and Kimberly refer to each other as “Billy” and “Kimberly” and not as David and Amy, making this an inconsistent “reality check” indeed. This is the only aspect of the piece, in my opinion, that could have been altered to make it better. A concept soon perfected in the next video.
Are you working public relations for Saban Entertainment? How do you best convince kids that Power Rangers is just pretend? Of course! You get the two most extreme characters in the show’s history and make them act completely normal. If that doesn’t convince them not to take the show seriously, nothing will. The kids in the PSA itself are the litmus test. They keep insisting that Paul– err, Bulk should be hanging with Ja– I mean Skull, instead of hanging out with his niece. These incredulous fools take it one step further (even after Jason Narvy shows up acting quite un-Skull-like) by insisting that because ice cream was accidentally spilled on Paul’s shoe, clobbering should ensue. Now, the concept of “acting” is explained in great detail.
This is a perfect example of a company taking responsibility for its consumers. With all bases covered, the Power Rangers universe once strove to be a positive beacon on and off camera. And Bulk is seriously the better actor.
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