Artwork by Charity
Probably the most important thing about the show
was Gadget. She was my hero, and still is to a somewhat lesser
extent. I wanted to be like her. She was intelligent, liked machines
and science, pretty, and had really great friends.. At [my] school,
you could not have all of that..now, ten years later, I do have
those things, and it's strange to realize that [Gadget] may have
been the influence. (Charity Oliver, survey response)
[I like Rescue Rangers]..just for one reason...
GADGET HACKWRENCH!!! ... I Love Gadget! (JLS, survey response)
Gadget is the most popular (and debatably most interesting)
character from "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers." In fact,
just as many respondents said they enjoyed the program because
of Gadget as said they tuned in because they liked Chip and Dale.
Her many fans generally like her for one of two reasons: either
because she is the kind of person they like and respect, or they
"want her children" (Gadgetism Test).
Sometimes the two go together.
Female fans of Gadget usually like her because she
is a capable, independent female character (a relative rarity
in 1980s cartoons). As noted above, she can be seen as a genuine
role model, as well. Gadget is "beautiful, yet blissfully
unaware of her beauty" (Indy, survey response)--since beauty
is such a highly prized feminine ideal, Gadget manages to have
most of the traits of the perfect woman, and can be easily idolized.
The fact that she doesn't wear makeup ("Gadget Goes Hawaiian")
truly emphasizes that her beauty is not conscious, and perhaps
implies that her beauty really comes from her personality, not
any efforts to become beautiful. As "Chip 'n Dale Rescue
Rangers" premiered when the average Rangerphile was just
entering his or her awkward teenage years, Gadget served as a
reminder that young women don't have to be obsessed with their
appearance to be beautiful. Her carefree attitude and beauty served
as something for female fans to work towards and look forward
To say that female Rangerphiles look up to Gadget solely
because of her beauty, however, is ludicrous. One reason--probably
the main reason--Gadget is admired by some women is simply because
she is kind and brilliant, all at once. As the most technicologically
knowledgable of the Rescue Rangers (and debatably a lousy cook
whose food always tastes like motor oil ("Good Times, Bat
Times")), she does not conform to gender stereotypes. Perhaps
most of all, she is a symbol showing that women are every bit
as smart as men, and can accomplish whatever they set their minds
to. As the mouse herself says, "Nothing's impossible."
Some male Rangerphiles fit into this category of admiration
for the mouse without being attracted to her--her love of technology
makes her popular among technophiles, male and female. However,
a good percentage of Rangerphiles (mostly male) are attracted
to Gadget for her beauty as well. This is evidenced in some of
the more risqué pictures in the Internet
Gadget Archive, with Gadget in suggestive sleepwear and bikinis.
One respondent to my open-ended survey pointed out that he is
not attracted to Gadget, who is "a cartoon mouse." However,
since most Rangerphiles seem to be fans of animation, and often
of 'furries' (animals with human qualities), it should not be
surprising that some Rangerphiles feel an attraction for her.
Again, while it is easy to analyze Gadget simply based
on her appearance, it really is her personality (coupled with,
at least, some 'cuteness') that makes her such a popular character.
While a technologically capable female may be a bit of a cliched
character now, at the time the show premiered, these traits were
really unique and likable. Additionally, she is the most caring
member of the team, making her seem genuinely female, instead
of just 'a guy in drag' like some female cartoon characters are.
In an informal poll, only one respondent out of 44
picked Gadget as their 'least favorite Rescue Ranger' (Julie's
Weekly Rescue Ranger Poll). The mouse is strong, capable,
beautiful, and a woman; while her appearance has some importance,
she is rarely confined to the 'damsel in distress' role so common
in cartoon ladies. What's not to like?
Perhaps one of the most significant liberties the Internet
Rangerphile community are in the area of romance.
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