Over the weekend, my friend dragged me to a Ventura movie theater to watch the Power Rangers. Yes, Power Rangers. I remember walking into the movie theater wishing I could go get my nails done instead. I sat down and prepared myself to fall asleep.
Right when my eyes started to flutter, Billy Cranston, the soon-to-be blue ranger, admitted he had autism. Not in an embarrassed or comical way, just simply put. Jason Lee Scott, the red ranger, responded with sarcasm, which Billy said he didn’t understand.
While this scene may seem insignificant and random to most, it is just the kind of positive, informative representation that people with autism need. Billy’s autism isn’t made to be the punchline, the means of a joke. Billy is a valuable member of the team, just as strong as the others. He was even the first to morph, something the entire team struggled with.
This moment is joining the many moments in media embracing autism. Sesame Street is introducing its first character with autism, Julia. She’s afraid to shake Big Bird’s hand when she first meets him, prompting Big Bird to get upset. However, Elmo explains to Big Bird that it is harder for her to come in contact with others. By the end of the episode, she is playing tag with the group and is jumping with excitement.
These moments are so momentous because they’re bringing awareness to a larger audience. They’re informing the public through interesting storylines and complex character developments. They’re also bringing much-needed representation. Now, little girls and boys with autism will believe that they can be superheroes. Preschoolers will learn about their best friend’s disorder, and these successes will pave the way for new stories to be made.