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Childhood Heroes and Heroines

I'm joining the entire Red Room community in writing a short blog post on this week's topic: "Heroes." The form and the content of the blog entry are open to personal interpretation; whether this topic calls to mind a real-life hero, a fictional character, or something else altogether, we want to read your entry. We'll choose at least one of these blogs to be featured on Red Room's homepage next week, and we'll choose three blog writers to receive free books from Red Room Authors. Submit your blog entry by Friday at 10:30 a.m. PDT [GMT-0700] for consideration. Be sure to tag the entry with the keyword term "heroes blog” so we can find it.

There are so many ways to define the word "hero."  Trying to pin it down to one short explanation makes my mind goes haywire. So many nuances to consider! This wasn't always the case, I think: when I was little, "hero" had a simple meaning: the "good guy."

The good guy wasn't always a guy.  Many of my heroes as a kid, in fact, were smart girls who knew how to fight just as well as their male companions.  Nor was the good guy always human--I'm sure you can think of a non-human hero within two seconds.  The good guy wasn't even always strictly "good;" think of the typical conflicted hero, who can be rude or even cruel at times.  The only thing that really defined the good guy was a commitment to maintaining peace and justice. He or she always did the right thing in the end, be it fighting pollution with a machine that magically sucked up smog, tying up the bad guy and having him or her sent to prison, or even just apologizing to a friend they were fighting with.

If only it were really that easy to save the world, right? Sigh.

I had so many heroes when I was a kid.  Trying to write about them all would result in a blog that went on forever, so instead I'll just pick two: Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Trini Kwan, the Yellow Ranger from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

For those of you who weren't a child or the parent of a child in the late 80s/early 90s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were--well, giant turtle superheroes trained in martial arts. (Bear with me here.) They began their lives as pet turtles, but came into contact with toxic waste at the beginning of the series, and morphed into half-human half-turtle creatures.  Their owner, an ex-ninja named Splinter who had been exiled and forced to live in the sewers of New York City (you've got to love the absurdity), was turned into a half-human half-rat when he touched the glowing ooze.  Naturally, he decided the best course of action was to adopt the giant teenage turtles as his sons and raise them as ninjas.  He named them after Renaissance artists: Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michaelangelo.  Awesome, right?  (Maybe a little ridiculous, too.  Just a little.)

Leonardo was the undisputed leader of the team. He wore a red mask and had the best people skills of all the TMNT.  He was my favorite because he was able to coordinate their efforts as a team--Donatello was an absent-minded genius, Raphael was sarcastic, and Michaelangelo was a bit of a space cadet, so it was really only under Leonardo's leadership that they got anywhere.  He was also just the nicest one.  He had a real, passionate commitment to the people they were working to save, and I guess that struck me as a kid.

The Power Rangers were another group of teenagers chosen to fight the evil space witch Rita Repulsa. There were five of them; each of them received a "power coin" that granted them special powers. Trini Kwan was my favorite of the bunch.  She had the ability to morph into some sort of saber-tooth tiger machine.  (Tell me that's not awesome.)  She wore a bright yellow suit, played volleyball, and was very smart. Most of the girls my age liked Kimberly, the Pink Ranger, the best, but I thought Trini was cooler because her saber-tooth tiger was more powerful than Kimberly's pterodactyl.


(Of course, sometimes I still wanted Kimberly's outfit.  It was pink.  I was five.  You can forgive that, right?)

Writing this blog has made me tremendously nostalgic for those easier days!  Now your turn: who were your childhood heroes?  Do you still love them, or have you moved on?

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I missed out on both the Ninja Turtles and the Power Rangers....

I'm certain I've never viewed a single episode of either program. But now I'm definitely curious about both. Are the Ninja Turtles available on DVD?

I didn't have heroes when I was a kid--perhaps because I wasn't allowed to watch TV enough!

Thanks for an enjoyable and educational post!

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If you didn't have TV heroes, did you have kids' books heroes?

A quick search of Amazon tells me that yes, some of the episodes are available on DVD! Fair warning: they probably both seem pretty ridiculous in this day and age.  You can check out the opening of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on Youtube for some idea of what I mean by that.