The LGBT community is still woefully underrepresented in mainstream media. Despite undeniably big steps in the right direction, there remains a gap between the representation of heterosexual characters and relationships versus gay, bisexual, or trans characters being shown on screen. However, change is coming, albeit slowly, but it's progress nonetheless. Starting with shows such as Glee, which featured two same-sex high school couples, moving onto Orange is the New Black which features a transgender actress in a main role, our favorite TV shows and movies are gradually learning to reflect modern society. Even Disney is finally getting in on the act, introducing Le Fou as being gay in the new Beauty and the Beast. It is a reflection of the times we live in, then, that the new Power Rangers movie will also feature a LGBT character, and in a central role, too.
The Yellow Ranger, Trini, played by Becky G, will become the first LGBT protagonist in a superhero movie franchise when Power Rangers gets released this week. Reflecting the age of the main characters (highschoolers), Trini is presented as questioning her own sexual orientation and wondering where she fits in life. The mention occurs when a character assumes she is having issues with her boyfriend, and then realizing that she is, in fact, having girlfriend problems.
Talking to Screen Rant, Becky G agrees that including a LGBT character is a brave decision for the reboot of such a popular franchise, and since the situation is ambiguous, it feels very real:
"Power Rangers has always represented diversity and they're always been ahead of the curve on a lot of things and although it may be a touchy subject for some people, I think it's done in a very classy way, and not only that, in a way that's really real, because you don't know, Trini doesn't know herself, and it's that moment where she says out loud, 'I've never said any of this out loud' and that line, where, you know, Zordon says 'You must shed your masks to wear this armor.' It's true. People should accept themselves for who they really are and be proud of that and take ownership of that first and learn that self love to really be happy; and I think that's why Trini never found her purpose just yet, until she met them and that's why she never really learned to love herself, because she didn't accept who she really is just yet."
Power Rangers first came to public attention in the nineties, when LGBT characters were more or less unheard of - certainly in mainstream movies or TV shows that would attract a younger audience. Now, in 2017, with people much more open about their orientation, it seems only right and proper to include LGBT characters, because it is an accurate representation of modern society. What is great about the introduction of Trini, though, is that it is without fanfare or question. There is no beacon, no flashing arrow, no big deal made of the fact that this is an LGBT character. She's just a young girl, struggling to determine where she fits. A strong role model and reflection of where many kids that age are at in their lives.
It's a stark contrast to the Power Rangers of old, who were all straight. David Yost was the original Blue Ranger, and openly gay. He left the show in the '90s after harassment over his sexuality, and he's praised the new movie reboot for their bold choice (via THR):
"They really stepped up to the plate. I think so many people in the LGBTQI community are going to be excited to see that representation.”
It's easy to argue that sexual orientation shouldn't matter; a movie such as Power Rangers should highlight strong, well-crafted characters with kick-ass fighting skills. But any superhero movie has more to it than fighting, and in the case of a reboot, such as Power Rangers, we are learning about these new characters; who they are, where they come to this new calling from, how they're all going to work together. Adults, kids, and teenagers alike want to see characters they can identify with, reflected on screen. Whatever her orientation, most people will be able to identify with someone struggling with their identity, but for some, the fact that Trini identifies as LGBT, will mean everything. Surely something to be praised.
- Power Rangers (2017) release date: Mar 24, 2017