The official trailer for the upcoming Jem & the Holograms film dropped earlier this month and Jem fans nearly destroyed the internet in response. If you haven’t seen this travesty, watch it then report back. I’ll wait…
Welcome back! I apologize for subjecting you to that foolishness. I’m not sure what that trash is supposed to be, but it is most certainly NOT Jem & the Holograms. I know, “Way harsh, Tai”, but seriously, what was that?! *exhales sharply and clenches fists* Let’s discuss.
I was excited when I first heard whisperings that Jem was being made into a movie. However, this trailer has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I was/am a Jem fan. Its original run was 1985-1988. I was 8 when the show started and firmly within the target audience. I didn’t have the dolls (a bitter regret now), but I watched every episode and still know most of the songs by heart. FYI: Come On In will never not be my jam! Shana was my favorite and I was so jealous of her purple hair. (I say, "was," but I still am.)
Before I launch into my full rant, I need to pause to note that I’m not especially nostalgic. I don’t have a problem with Hollywood delving into the pop culture milk crates and rebooting/reimagining properties from my youth. G.I Joe? Okay. Transformers? Go for it. Thundercats? Sure. I just need the new media to remain true to the spirit of the source material. You can update and modernize as needed but don’t make the story unrecognizable. Don’t insult and alienate the fan base you’re supposed to be catering to.
From the trailer, it appears that the only elements of the cartoon that the filmmaker’s kept were the character’s names & ethnicities and that they were in a band. There are several elements of the new storyline that burn my biscuits, but let’s focus on the following:
Movie: Jerrica/Jem and her younger sister, Kimber, appear to be teenaged orphans living with their aunt and her foster daughters, Aja and Shana.
Cartoon: Jem and Kimber were raised by their parents with their foster sisters, Aja and Shana. The mother died years earlier and the father dies shortly before the start of the series. The women are ADULTS.
I didn’t realize it as a kid, but Jem was one of the few cartoons that dealt with adults and adult issues. Work, family, love, career, charity, friendship, etc. all of those topics were discussed at length. Jem and her sisters didn’t have parents to ask for help or teachers to confide in; they had to figure life out on their own. They made decisions and had to face the consequences. Even though they relied on each other, they had to be independent. I’m not sure why someone thought the characters had to be downgraded to teenagers but it changes the dynamics in a major way.
Movie: Jerrica is a reluctant celebrity who becomes famous after a video secretly taken by Kimber goes viral on YouTube. Erica Raymond of Starlight Records signs her (and the Holograms?), changes her name to Jem and creates an image for her. The girls are thrust into pop stardom!
Cartoon: When Jerrica’s father dies she inherits his half of Starlight Records. She quickly realizes that the other partner, Eric Raymond is corrupt. Jerrica challenges Eric to a battle of the bands, her Jem & the Holograms (with help from super-computer Synergy) vs. his The Misfits. The winning band gets a record contract and car; the winning manager gets 100% of Starlight Records.
First, Jem & the Holograms formed to fight for Starlight Records so that they could protect their father/foster father’s legacy (and have funding for Starlight House, a girls group home run by the band with help from Mrs. Bailey). They were talented and loved music, but they weren’t just trying to get rich and famous. There were stakes! Second, Jem personally (and constantly) struggled with juggling being a businesswoman, a superstar and having a relationship. Fame wasn’t her issue, it was balance. This new version appears to have been created as a marketing tool for YouTube. I guess everyone wants to be Justin Bieber? (That child troubles me, but that’s another post for another day.) Third, they made Eric into Erica. I suppose that was supposed to be a nod to feminism but the character is to be a money-grubbing manipulator so… #epicfail.
Are we beginning to see the problems? Also, where are the Misfits? Bottom line: my version of Jem was about girl power (all various races and ethnicities), feminism, sisterhood and humanitarianism with a kick-ass computer, quasi-love triangle, crazy fashion, fun music and trips around the globe. This version seems to be yet another attempt by Hollywood to utilize nostalgia to line their pockets and I’m not here for it. Don’t piss on my head and tell me it’s raining.
I’m not usually one to judge a movie by it’s trailer but as of right now? I’m giving Jem & the Holograms an F and two middle fingers.