Thursday, April 22, 2021

Louis Skorecki vs. the Power Rangers


The following pieces were written in French by Louis Skorecki circa January 2001, and are translated here for the first time in English by me.

The End of the Power Rangers

by Louis Skorecki

Kids love to mimic grown-ups. They’re barely playing with a full deck and they start taking themselves for characters out of Pagnol. In “Happy Families,” an especially moronic game they like taking part in with their parents, they learn fast how to cheat. Pim, Pam, and Poum are no exception. The problem is that their parents got wiped out days ago, right before Christmas. All of a sudden, there’s no more presents and they’re sentenced to play Happy Families among themselves. It’s a lot less amusing this time around. Uncle Paul, who in the middle of the festivities tried to have a go of it, didn’t get the rules. He preferred to tell stories by the fireside. This horrified the three brothers. They’d been taught by TV and by Uncle Paul’s stories how all this seemed to come from the last century. Poum, the oldest, thought that the doors hadn't been completely shut by the previous centuries. He kept it to himself. In any case, Pim and Pam didn’t understand. Next to Happy Families, they only cared about the Power Rangers. They even preferred it to the TV series. [1] Pim, not yet even five years old, thought up a Happy Families Power Rangers game — the Rangers being almost as old as he [2], branded as monsters and mutants he knows by heart. He still regretted the disparition of Rita Repulsa, the violet-horned witch. Pam and Poum knew that he had designs on the family of the red Ranger, his favorite, but they pretended not to see it. They let Pim win, as always. Then they tried to pull off a Letmaster party, but as they only knew twenty-some letters between the three of them, they didn’t go too far. [3] Everything cooled down again when Pim, Pam, and Poum decided to call it a day. The next morning, on their way to school, they got run over by a car. Uncle Paul assumed mourning garb. Come tomorrow eve there’d be no more stories.

[1] Flash bulletin: The eighth season of Power Rangers arrives in full force on Fox Kids and TF1. Ask the kids, they know what time it’s on.

[2] Éditions Tournon. Out-of-print for a while.

[3] For those who know more than twenty letters, Letmaster (Lexibook) is a perverse variation on Scrabble mixed with Chutes and Ladders. Recommended for ages 7 to 77. You’ll lose your mind.


Power Rangers (2)

by Louis Skorecki

You thought we were done with them, but they’re back. The Power Rangers are returning to primetime, no joke — on an actual cinephile channel at that. Two feature-films have been produced to profit on the television success of the most celebrated five multi-colored Rangers in the galaxy. Power Rangers Turbo, rebaptized Power Rangers 2, is the sillier of the two. An attempt at adapting to the big screen, with bigger technical and financial means, the formula of the feuilleton, Power Rangers Turbo is a complete “artistic” disaster, “artistic” of course not being the suitable word — let’s  instead say that the scheming, minimal, troubling concept of the Power Rangers is diluted in movie-form. To take a closer look, the reason for this failure is simple: the Power Rangers series is only so much bricolage, cris et couinements [crying and whining; Skorecki is punning on the French title for Bergman’s Cries and Whispers: Cris et chuchotements —CK], simian menacings, child’s play with the children themselves disguised as heroes or monsters with designs on other children looking up to them, themselves in even better disguise. Live-direct, roulades, whistles that never strike fear, ridiculous witches, Quantrons that take flight like wasps at the most inconsequential alert. Without forgetting the shots of the barely realistic karate, the rubber, the latex — a fine effect that recalls King Kong mixed with Sankukai, Goldorak, Cocteau, Laurel and Hardy, Happy Days, Star Trek, Les Envahisseurs, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and, of course, Star Wars. Where the Power Rangers finds their novelty, and mind you this is a film glum in its ridiculousness, is that in place of continuing to steal ideas left and right, to recycle without the hint of an aesthetic marketing plan (accumulation, bricolage), we are besotted precisely with the “serious” in the Star Wars manner. The genius of the serial is its faculty of amnesia. Each year, new actors, a new “concept.” No child will ever have a clue as to the story, and still less the genealogy, of the Power Rangers. Frivolity, inconsequence, intemporality. As for the film, like any film, it aspires to cultural legitimacy. This is the wrong idea. Tough shit.


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