I'm looking back to my '90s cartoon education for this edition of Pop Pedestal, where we celebrate pop culture characters we admire. This week is all about Reggie Rocket, the rad-girl sister I wish I had from Nickelodeon's Rocket Power.
Pedestal Profile: Reggie lives in the extreme sports-laden world of Ocean City, California, along with her brother Otto, and their friends Twister and Squid. Daily life revolves around spending time on the half-pipe, steering clear of the unwelcome tourist-zombie, and keeping the family unit together. Though Ocean City's disputes start and end on the half-pipe Rocket Power takes time to remind us that extreme-sports-talent does not one a good person make. The Power life is all about staying true to one's family, however you choose to define that.
Admirable qualities: Reggie may only have a few years on her brother and his crew, but she is light years more mature than the rest of the Rocket Power clan. Example: Reggie spends an entire episode devising ways to keep her brother not to play a hockey game with a broken leg. Another episode finds Reggie trying to convince Otto and Twister not to snowboard on the closed-off part of the mountain. Don't think of Reggie as a wet blanket, though; her sensibility comes from years of shredding around town.
Reggie also introduced me and a generation of Nickelodeon couch casualties to zines. She's known around town for her zine, or "The Zine" to Ocean City citizens. Maybe if Reggie were real, she would be a Bitch intern just like me. Maybe the Bitch Extreme Sports Correspondent? I wish.
Not only that, but Reggie doesn't dress like most southern California women in pop culture. She doesn't fit the stereotypes of extremely feminine or extremely masculine athletic women characters, and appears to dress for comfort rather than to emphasize parts of her body (I'm not sure what passes for comfortable when your arms are as big around as your thumb). And—advice for anyone—she always wears a helmet!
Her influence: Like most '90s pop culture ephemera, one can find numerous tributes to Reggie on Tumblr. Here's a picture declaring admiration for her on 90sNickelodeonConfessions Tumblr, which is funny, because the confession makes it sound like wanting to be Reggie Rocket is something you should keep secret. Why hide it?!
She's inspired her own Facebook group and numerous Halloween costumes (I feel weird posting individual people's pictures, but look for yourself, or make your own!). Check out this awesome Feministing community post about the feminist values to be found in Reggie Rocket and Rocket Power in general. And for the edu-nerds in the crowd, Reggie and other women characters in Nickelodeon have inspired some academic discussion on the relationship between '90s cartoon trends and feminism.
That's not all: Looks like Reggie and crew will be inspiring a whole new generation of kids on the new "90s Are All That" block on TeenNick. Tell a young one to check it out (because all teens love pop culture recommendations from grownups, right?), and if you just want to catch some vintage Rocket Power glory, YouTube has its fair share of episodes. The theme song is just as ballistic as I remember.
Think of her when: Family members don't listen to your hard-earned advice. It's frustrating sometimes, but being mature means knowing that people have to learn some things on their own! Even if it means getting stuck on the closed side of Mount Baldy until the middle of the night. Reggie is an inspiration for when people think you're born to fail: the boy-dominated world of extreme sports assumed Reggie couldn't keep up, but she didn't pay any attention to the haters. And in the end, it's all about family, man.