Do you remember Captain Planet? Of course you do. The environment-saving superhero was very popular among kids in the 90s. Captain Planet and the Planeteers, as the show was called, is an animated series which presented environmental issues in a fun and understandable way. This year is Captain Planet’s 20th anniversary. Like you, I loved the show as a child. There was just something about the green-haired muscle man and his five planeteers, that truly resonated with me. So imagine my elation when I met one of the show’s creators at the recent Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx). Barbara Pyle, (who worked with media mogul Ted Turner to develop the show), is a bubbly fireball of energy, with a contagious passion for everything Captain Planet. Just a few minutes in her presence will have you pumping the air and shouting, “The power is yours!” Well, at least I was.
I had a short chat with her to get an idea about the origins of the show and what’s planned for the future. Special thanks to my Twitter friends @DNGeezy and @Lekceem for suggesting questions to ask.
Me: Where did you get the idea for Captain Planet?
Barbara: The people that need to know the information about the environment is really the younger generation, and we had a very famous environmentalist who was a friend of ours, still is, Lester Brown. And what he said was “we don’t have time to train this generation of teachers, to train the next generation of students because we don’t have generations, we have years.” One day Ted called me into his office and said “Captain Planet!”, and I said, “What’s that Ted?” and he said, “Well, that’s your problem. That’s what he’s called.” So, we went out to LA [Los Angeles], hired a production company and started producing Captain Planet episodes.
Me: Did you expect the widespread response that it got?
Barbara: Absolutely not. When I carry this bag as a briefcase [holds up bag with Captain Planet characters] and when young people a year ago start coming up to me and asking where I got the bag, and actually identify themselves to me as planeteers, you could’ve knocked me over with a feather. Like, are you sure? What do you mean you’re a planeteer, and they explain to me that they believed in the values of the show and practice the values of the show, and that they consider themselves planeteers.
Me: How did the planeteer network start?
Barbara: I wondered what would happen if I put all these people in a conference call together, and what happened was a movement. They started the international planeteer network and their mission is to do good deeds for the environment, and basically to save the planet.
Me: Do you plan to have anything for this generation of kids who don’t know who Captain Planet is?
Barbara: We would really like to bring back Captain Planet. The existing episodes are just simply gathering dust. We would like to bring back these existing episodes and put them on TV for the next generation; planeteers to be, if you will. We have certain obstacles we have to overcome before we are able to do that, but we’re hoping that we can manage that and then we would like to develop new episodes.
Me: Why is Captain Planet’s hair green?
Barbara: Well, we started making him the colour of nature; he was a process, he evolved and I guess the question would be why not? He’s a superhero and I guess if you made him with brown hair that would be kinda boring. Green seemed like the natural colour for an environmental superhero.
Me: Why those five powers?
Barbara: The four powers are the natural powers of the earth; earth, wind, fire and water are four recognised powers. We added the power of heart because that’s the combining power. The other powers are elements. They are not animated but they are brought together by the power of heart, and what heart symbolises is compassion, love, charity, empathy; all of the things that we have to have if we’re going to save the planet. We have to care about the planet first. We can’t just be concerned about the elements, so heart is the combining power. Without heart we can’t do anything.
Me: How can we become planeteers in our own countries?
We have a website now. Planeteers have come together. Planeteers have grown up and they have professions and they came to me, and after I had met a number of them, they joined their powers and created a global network, a hub. So you go to www.captainplanet.me and join us. Become a planeteer. It’s a worldwide movement, we have over 309,000 fans on Facebook. It’s all people who watch Captain Planet and understand what it means to care about the earth.
There you have it. There’s nothing else left to say other than: The power is yours!
Always love your neighbour as yourself and remember to pray, laugh and grow.
Keresa is a Planeteer in the Jamaica Chapter. You can read her blog here.