Artwork by Larry deSouza
Most Internet Rangerphiles were probably somewhere between the ages of nine and fifteen when the "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers" premiered. Thus, the show can generally be associated with some kind of nostalgia as these fans look back on it. To some fans, the program is associated with happy childhood memories, but to others, the show was used as a form of escape from the real world in years of transition and difficulty.
"When I found the Rescue Rangers back in 1989, I was in junior high. It was not a good time for me, because I didn't have any good friends there at school. So when the Rescue Rangers came out, it sort of filled a void. It sounds weird, but I felt like the Rescue Rangers were my friends, or at least I imagined them as such. They were a close-knit group, and that's what I needed in my own life, so I pretended that I was a part of it." (Tom, survey response)
This response is far from atypical of the Rescue Rangers Internet fan community. Though I did not survey on 'social ineptness' or 'bad childhood experiences,' it seems that a lot of Rangerphiles on the Internet have used the program as a form of escape from the real world. The fact that the good guys are always good, and always triumph, makes it a pleasant diversion from everyday life. Works of fan fiction serve as further distractions, allowing authors to steer the Rangers into new, exciting directions, and readers to watch more complicated plot lines and fulfilling stories develop. Readers also have an option to accept or reject fan fiction, while it is harder to reject particular episodes of the program as being 'out of character,' since the animated works have an air of authenticity. Perhaps the biggest escape for Rangerphiles today is the online community itself. It is a place where Rescue Ranger fans feel they fit in; they can share common interests with these people, and make genuine friendships, despite the fact that most online Rangerphiles have never met face to face. These fans, in turn, are perceived as "kinder" and "gentler" ("Dirty Rotten Diapers") people than members of the outside world (and, indeed, posters to the Acorn Cafe are often more civil than posters to some other message boards, although the difference is probably not as great as most Rangerphiles perceive). This vision of Rangerphiles as ideal human beings is probably a social construction. Non-Rangerphiles, or at least those who are cruel to Rangerphiles, are seen as an outside, negative force, while the Rangerphiles online are a unified group finding solidarity and support in each other, and, in that way, a symbol of all that is good in humankind.
Whether escaping into the online world of the Rescue Rangers fan community is done to relieve stress, or if the community serves as a fan's best friends, this Internet community, brought together by an online message board and some fan works, is an important part of all its members' lives. Since no new episodes of "Rescue Rangers" have been made for years, and the program is only aired on cable channels, the community, more than the show itself, and debatably more than its characters, are used for escape from the outside world. Though he never articulated it as such, this definitely coincides with Jenkins's view of fans versus 'mundanes,' or non-fans (1992).
A few words of conclusion
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