Jem goes to cinema – truly outrageous!

JEM!, [aka JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS], 1985-1988

Jem-and-The-Holograms

“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.

jem-2015-film

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.

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