28 February 2009

go planet!

If you grew up in the 90s then Captain Planet probably featured into your TV-time. He was the superhero bringing awareness to environmental issues much before Al Gore. The cartoon itself needs no introduction and is a form of edutainment, which advocates the UN as an organization, and the concepts of globalism, multiculturalism and environmentalism generally.

Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, is awakened from a long sleep by human activity threatening ecosystems. Realizing that the damage is extensive, she sends five magic rings, each with the power to control an element of nature one controlling an extra element - heart, to five chosen youths across the globe.

These five are dubbed the Planeteers given the task of defending the Earth in the case of the greatest of disasters and making effort to keep others from happening. Gaia who is based in Hope Island, uses her 'Planet Vision' to discover where the most devastating destruction is occurring and sends the Planeteers to help solve the problem. The Planeteers use transportation based on solar power in order to avoid causing pollution themselves.

In situations that the Planeteers cannot resolve alone, they can combine their powers to summon Captain Planet, a magical entity who possesses all of their powers magnified. This symbolizes the premise that the combined efforts of a team are stronger than its individual parts. He is able to rearrange his molecular structure to transform himself into the various powers and elements of nature. Captain Planet's outfit does not represent a specific culture and is made up of elements of the Earth that are integral to his composition. He has superhuman powers and seems to gain more proportionate to whatever the situation requires. Nevertheless, he is weakened by pollutants which sap his strength.

Despite his vulnerability to pollution, Captain Planet is a formidable and valiant hero. Once his work is done, Captain Planet returns to the Earth, restoring the Planeteers' powers. The bad guys were of course the polluters and even they were realistically exaggerated. Of course they were all after materialistic gains, with no regard to the ecosystem or the damage inflicted on it.

Created by Ted Turner, the cartoon always ended with a public service message to promote the issues tackled within the show itself. No matter how kitschy the show itself was, it was a great way to educate young children about environmental issues when the problems first began to rear their ugly heads. As for me, an innate geek even way back then: I loved the show, its message and the way it effectively broke down trivialities such as race, colour and creed to present a united front towards a problem that is much bigger than all of us. The show had a target audience who are now the young people of today in positions to actually do something about the various issues. Captain Planet was the ├╝bercool eco-warrior and suddenly it was awesome to be green. As far as fads go, this one was here to stay.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers take you on adventures - part science, part action, but always rooted in fact. Every episode reveals some aspect of the physical effect of environmental destruction and ends with the same message: that every individual must respect the planet and preserve its resources if we are to ensure our survival. So really, the power is yours!

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