Yes, I know it’s been two months since my last update. Between an entire rewrite, my actual business that pays the bills, school stuff for my daughter, and an injury, my blog had to fall by the wayside. Since I’m lucky today, I have some time, and oh boy, do I have something to get off my chest.
When I was a little girl, Jem and the Holograms was a huge show.
(L-R: Shana, Jem, Aja, Kimber)
For the uninitiated, Jerrica and Kimber Benton were raised by parents who did a lot of work with foster children, and their father co-founded Starlight Records with Eric Raymond. Their parents adopted two of their foster children, Aja, and Asian girl, and Shana, a black girl. Their races will be relevant in a little while. Their mother died, and then their father died, leaving Jerrica in charge of half the company as well as Starlight House, the home for foster girls.
Eric was hellbent on taking the Bentons’ half of the record label, and he founded a few rock group, The Misfits, as part of his scheme. He refused to release any of the Bentons’ money to support Starlight House.
Jerrica found out her father had worked on futuristic holographic technology, and she, Kimber, Aja, and Shana, formed a rock band using the technology to disguise themselves and to turn Jerrica into her secret alter-ego, Jem, to earn the money needed to keep the home for their foster girls running, rather than for personal glory. Her boyfriend, Rio, was pretty much a jerk who served to cause some drama, and he dated both Jem and Jerrica without realizing they were the same person. (TV shows in the 80’s didn’t treat kids like idiots.)
These girls were role-models for my generation. They were hard-working, put the care of children ahead of their own desires, and weren’t afraid of going head-to-head with Eric Raymond, when it was necessary. At the same time, they experienced vulnerability, self-doubt, and outright fear. They showed you can be scared and still be strong. The show also featured diversity, and race was never a source of conflict. They were equals. While not perfect, the show did attempt to honor other cultures, which wasn’t often done in the 80’s, and never in a show for kids.
This is why the new movie trailer is so troubling.
Jerrica and the girls are reduced to petulant teenagers who are white-washed, and Kimber puts a video of Jerrica playing the guitar on YouTube.
(L-R: Jem, Kimber, Aja, Shana)
Eric was turned into Erica, and Erica discovered Jerrica, and comes up with the concept of Jem and the Holograms, and then tries to tear the band apart to elevate Jem as a solo act. Rather than using Synergy, her father’s holographic technology, wigs and makeup are used to create Jem for the stage. Rio’s a background character, and the preview shows him as a stereotypical flaming gay man, though we’re supposed to believe he’s still her love interest. According to the IMDB, the Misfits weren’t even cast. Absolutely none of the other characters from the show were cast.
Everything that made Jem a positive role model for my generation was removed, and this is problematic. We girls didn’t have many girl-power role models. We had Jem, and we had She-Ra. As much as I loved, and still love, He-Man, She-Ra was an off-shoot of that show. (I’m not going to get up in arms about her skimpy outfit since He-Man’s was skimpier.) Of course we girls tended to enjoy Ninja Turtles and GI Joe and Thundercats and Transformers, but there was a lack of female characters for us to identify with, and the female characters there were were usually there to be rescued.
Those old boy-focused shows that have had recent animated movies showed the old heroes to still be heroes. Look at the Transformers franchise. No one can accuse Michael Bay of reducing the robots to blathering idiots (though the new characters of Sam and Mikaela are pretty much there to serve as a human male-identifier and a piece of eye-candy…gee, thanks, Michael Bay…).
Yet that is what has happened to our Jem. Movie-Jerrica didn’t even come up with her alter-ego on her own. Eric-turned-Erica did. Jerrica is a vehicle for Eric-turned-Erica’s ambitions. Jerrica and her friends are whiny teenagers who are insults to teenagers. When we have a chance to have a role model from the 80’s, one of the very few shows with positive female role models, taken to the big screen, what we are given is someone who needs a role model with all the inclusivity sucked out.
A little more salt on the wound? Input from Christy Marx, the show’s creator, specifically was not wanted, and the production team is entirely male. You’d think they’d at least have a few token women around to give the appearance that maybe this movie might has some girl-power to it. But nope. Can’t have any of that stuff now, can we? Of course not.
Why? Why can’t we have our strong Jem and the Holograms? Why do we have to get a watered-down version that is Jem in name only? I’m ticked. I’m so very ticked that I can’t stand it, and the only bit of enjoyment I’m getting out of this is to watch the Twitter hashtags #JemTheMovie and #NotMyJem. Why, WHY, can’t we have strong, positive female role models in movie, books, anything? I don’t understand it. I really don’t.