Yes, I realize this post is months late…but life happens…and before you judge me for being a 30-something watching Power Rangers, chill. To be honest, this age group is the reason for the success of the 2017 Power Rangers reboot. This piece is not a critical analysis of the movie but rather a reflection on all of my favorite things. As with all my blogs, I’ll throw in some student affairs and leadership theory. If you haven’t seen yet, ***spoiler alert*** the movie was a good updated adaptation of the original series. The team did a good job updating characters, placing them in realistic situations AND making them flawed, overbearing, emotional humans (only real fans will get that reference). Thank you Saban for the nostalgia. There wasn’t a person a day under 18 in the theater. Though Rita Repulsa wasn’t quite the wicked witch we all remembered, they get an A for effort.
As a child, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was without a doubt my favorite show! Not only did the Rangers kick villain butt every week; they also were positive role models. Not to mention, the show actually did help to expand the vocabulary of viewers (how many 5-year olds to you hear using invincible in a sentence correctly)! I’m positive my parents spent $1000s of dollars over the years buying me action figures and megazords, and my brother probably spent countless hours wanting to punch me as I stood in front of the TV reciting every line of the show and pretending I could karate chop a putty or fight Lord Zedd. So, you can imagine how excited I was to find out this series was getting a reboot as a movie. Over the months, anticipation built and I didn’t know what to expect. I just knew I had to see this movie.
First off, I must give honorable mention to Trini. This character explored her sexuality and learned to “lean in” to being herself. This is obviously a challenge for anyone, but usually more difficult for people of color. I enjoyed that she led with her heart and demonstrated integrity to herself and her beliefs. I applaud the filmmakers for their courage to explore this topic and weave this identity into the fabric of the characters. If there is a part two, I’m interested to see how Trini’s character will continue to grow and embrace her sexuality.
Second runner up goes to Jason – a diamond in the rough. He had all the potential in the world but veered off the path due to being pressured to be the “perfect” teenager. The journey rebuilt his confidence and strengthened his abilities to lead and advocate for his team. This character was a solid example of situational and transformational leadership.
Despite the excellent update to the characters, the true unsung hero was Billy. At first, I was puzzled as to why the character was Black and was on the autism spectrum. My assumption was that the character would be reduced to a simple “sidekick” role due to his race and his intelligence would be downplayed. As a diehard fan, I could not sit through a movie where the main Black character lacked depth and substance. How wrong was I?!
Billy exemplified so many black men living in America right now — torn between two worlds and having to be a master of code switching to make it through each day. Billy was highly intelligent, but wasn’t seen as a leader by others around him. Similar to many Black people working in predominantly White spaces right now. Little did the team know, Billy would be the glue that held everyone together. He not only spent time building relationships with each of his peers, he also was brave enough to think outside the box and try new things. He exemplified true creativity and innovation. Billy was even the first ranger to morph! To me, Billy represents servant leadership. He constantly put the needs of the team above himself, but always modeled the way. Billy never lost the faith, even when things looked bleak and the journey to defeating Rita was a challenge.
Billy was the heart of the team. He was the first to lend a helping hand to Jason, and first to extend a hand to Trini. Billy used his father’s legacy to guide his journey and influence his leadership. Thanks, Billy for saving the day!
Bravo, Saban for breaking boundaries with this film – one of the first to feature autistic and LGBT superheroes. Power Rangers beautifully illustrates the many ways life can be experienced for members of a team – all figuring out their own ways to reach a common goal. And if that’s not enough, the movie provides a great example of effective team building and the stages of forming, storming, norming, and finally performing.
As the summer begins to wind down and we begin working with teams for next year, let’s keep a look out for our “Billys” and give them the empowerment they need to lead our groups to success.
Who is Courtney Williams?
Courtney Williams is a passionate and driven individual who enjoys coaching young people effectively and efficiently achieve their goals! Courtney is a vibrant student affairs professional with a passion for cultivating students and their talents through mentorship and empowering them with leadership skills. Courtney received a M.Ed. in Community Development and Action with an emphasis on service-learning and leadership development from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, and is currently pursuing his EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership at University Southern California’s Rossier School of Education.
Courtney’s research interests include: exploring the intersection of higher education and community development, examining the factors which influence persistence for young professionals of color at PWIs, and discovering the impact of positive psychology on leadership development.
In his free time, Courtney enjoys speaking French, listening to music, and being a Beyonce enthusiast and faithful member of the Beygency!