“Jem! No one else is the same, Jem is my name!”
A pair of super-swish, star studded earrings; a purple lady with creepy eyes (who’s also a hologram); and a very rich, dead daddy – that’s what it took for Jerrica Benton to scream success. Just a bit of magic, money and mortality – you know; thrown together in a recipe conjuring the “glamour and glitter, fashion and fame” to which every human born with a vagina aspires. Obviously.
That’s quite some lesson right there – that without a stack of silver spoons, a big-ass butter dish, a Wiccan for a neighbour and a dying dad with cash stashed in the Caymans, Destination Dream is doomed. And it’s preached by an all-American-girl-scout-captain-of-everything-with-the-hunkiest-boyfriend-in-town-plus-a-freaking-hologram-machine-and-superstar-alter-ego-called-Jem, who was likely to have it all anyway by virtue of being a cartoon character. Lucky for her, she rocked eighties fashion like she knew the zombie apocalypse was descending at dawn – a compensating factor that allowed Jerrica Benton to peddle her stereotype for not only three seasons of series but in mind and memory for many a proceeding year.
All it took was a pair of killer heels, a minuscule wrap-skirt-dress-thing and a cacophony of pink for style to sideline suffragette-sense. Feminists freaked out. Parents compromised. Daughters got their dolls. And Jerrica-cum-Jem became a pop culture sensation – girls digging Jem for her fad, ignoring her parochialism. Until a man named Scooter came along and burst the bubble.
Scooter also happens to be Justin Bieber’s manager (’nuff said) – one of the peeps responsible for turning Jem and the Holograms into a “live action remake for a whole new generation.” So now, instead of awesome eighties Jem, who conscripted girls to context but looked suave-and-sassy doing it, we have Jem à la Britney-Miley-Demi-blah-di-blah telling the world that women are weak wannabes.
In the new film (due out 26 December, 2015) Synergy, the hologram computer that transformed eighties Jerrica into Jem, has been replaced with Photoshop. A click of a button and problems are stripped away – right? Benton (played by Aubrey Peebles – yawn) says in the film’s latest trailer, “At some point we all wish we could become someone else,” which is true, and part of life – but Photoshop; fixer of faux pas, harbinger of happiness? Not even a man with as unfortunate a name as Scooter could punt such poppycock, which means that the film is sure as sugar likely to offer an insipid attempt at a metaphor (God help us)…One Direction will play in the background, probably that The Story of My Life tripe, as Millennial Jem, in a moment of sudden epiphany, realises that she needs to stay true to who she is; that fame and Photoshop are not the answer. Vomit. It’s all a bit…lame.
The mediocre message of eighties Jem is way more palatable, not only because her dress is dope but because she is a fantasy – the catharsis she sells is rooted in imagination; she pitches an escape from reality, rather than a real solution to a problem. The ‘button click’ and ‘earring touch’ that it takes for Jem’s identity to transform (something to which we can all relate) is undermined by the show’s supernatural undertone. Jem is a drawing and purple hologram people who grant wishes do not exist (yet) – so suck it up, and deal with life. Work hard, have a good attitude and aspire to something other than glitz&glam. This girly-girl crap is so boring. And yet, there is no such hint in Scooter & co’s film promos, and by detaching the fantasy from the fiction, the solution to Jem’s problems – that all-changing click – is offered as a real option. An antidote to a mediocre life. Also known as ‘placebo’.
Better the devil with pink hair than the one that looks like Taylor Swift. Thanks.