find articles by Author

A Jem in a Man’s World

0

Jaz MooreI recently had the displeasure of viewing the trailer for the abysmal looking Jem and the Holograms movie. I am a long time fan of the the cult cartoon so I’m unbelievably disappointed in the creative choices made by the production team. The core, the very spirit of the show, is missing. Thus, I give you an in-depth analysis of Jem the cartoon vs Jem the movie trailer and why the distinction between the two is so important!

CARTOON JEM IS A FEMINIST ICON

In the original cartoon, Jerrica Benton is an independent businesswoman who suddenly finds herself in charge of-not only a music production company-but a foster home for young girls. Desperate for finances, she is miraculously transformed into the rockstar Jem by artificial intelligence “Synergy.” With help from her sisters Aja, Shana, Kimber, (and later, Raya) a band is formed that changes the world forever. But they must all keep Jem’s true identity secret from their enemies Eric Raymond and The Misfits or the technology for Synergy could be stolen for evil.

While the show was being produced, it was a time of socio-economic change. The divorce rate was increasing and latchkey kids became prevalent. More and more women were faced with the conflict of identity; that of caretaker vs career woman. Jem/Jerrica represented this duality. Jem was the bread-winner-money-maker-wunderkind raking in the dough to keep Starlight Music and Starlight House afloat. Jerrica was the maternal figure morphing the lives of her foster girls (I’m looking at you Laura Holloway.) But as the show progressed, these roles melded to the point where even our protagonist couldn’t tell where Jerrica ended and Jem began! Almost as if they were {gasp} the same person all along!? A woman protagonist who was juggling BOTH a career and family successfully. Every Saturday morning. For little girls around the world to see.

JATH was also groundbreaking because:

-Was created by a woman (all hail Christy Marx.)

-Portrayed women in male dominated careers (“Video” the director.)

-Portrayed women who were interested and skilled in technology (Aja and Minx.)

-Had a diverse cast of main characters.

-Was one of the first shows created and marketed FOR girls.

-Female protagonist’s main objective wasn’t romance

VS 

JEM IS A TEENAGER WITH A COMPUTER 

Angsty teenager Jerrica records herself playing guitar in dark rooms and becomes famous for it. For seemingly no reason, she is given the “secret” persona of Jem. There are no risks involved with the discovery of her true identity (which is the main conflict/driving force of the ENTIRE show.) She doesn’t become Jem out of necessity. She has no real responsibilities. And unlike the show, there are little to no stakes that involve physicality (I believe the acting world refers to that as putting your objectives into actions i.e Kidnapping Kimber causing the Holograms to miss the big Battle of the Music Stars competition in Hawaii.)

The film also has a contemporary setting. This completely conflicts with the themes of excessive glamour, rock music, fashion, and Molly Ringwald. All strong staples of the 1980’s but when used in the post-modern cesspool of the present, it translates into some sort of sad parody that cannot be taken seriously. Basically, it’s a Lisa Frank sticker that was left out in the rain.

So I would like to thank the all-male creative team for taking such an honored icon of feminine and feisty girl power, and turning her into a drab unoriginal Hannah Montana rehash. No glamour. No glitter. No fashion. Some fame. Only the internet kind though. And yes, I forgive you Juliette Lewis.

 

 

Jaz Moore

About Jaz Moore

Jaz Moore is a writer/director living in Los Angeles with her best friend Cheeseburger the tortoise. She loves horror films, fears the sun, and wears her “Saved by the Bell” nightgown more than is socially acceptable. Follow her on twitter @JazMoore