NOT MY JEM – EVERYTHING WRONG WITH JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS MOVIE
I stumbled onto Jem in the mid 80’s quite by accident. I randomly turned on my TV one Sunday AM (early!). There she was –this gorgeous pink haired, sweet, giving, loving, strong and smart pop rock goddess. At the end of the episode, Jem’s goodness always triumphed over the scheming evil intent of the rival Misfits. The music and stories instantly grabbed me. Been hooked and a huge fan ever since.
So, you can just imagine my excitement when it was revealed a live action version Jem and The Holograms film was a reality. Then imagine my utter shock and dismay (like so many original Jem fans) when the first trailer was released. Jem had basically been turned into a bedazzled, face painted Hanna Montana.
Here is my list of what is wrong with Jon M Chu’s Jem movie.
1 – Jem/Jerrica Benton was never the angst filled teen in the original series. She was an adult woman (as were her bandmates) running Starlight foundation and home for at risk girls as well as her own record company. Independent, strong and confident – great role model. In the original series, Synergy (more on her in a bit) transformed Jerrica into her alter ego Jem via special earrings. Jem was the pop superstar. Jerrica was not fame or fortune seeking. She did this primarily to fund Starlight. Not for her own glory or aspirations. The film does not correctly portray her character.
2 – Shame about Shana: I don’t really know the ethnicity of the girl portraying her in the movie. But in the series Shana is African American. Shouldn’t she have been cast that way?
3 – Star-lite Girls? : Jerrica’s bandmates in the film seem like they would be more akin to the girls in Starlight home, rather than the lead characters. Dropouts? Lacking integrity and morals? The original Holograms were never like that. Teens were cast to draw the key Young Adult demo – spinning it as Jem for “a new generation”.
4 – I go to Rio: Rio Pacheco was never SPOILER ALERT Eric (female Eric-a in the film) son or related in any way. He managed Jem and the band, and was love interest to Jem/Jerrica.
5 – We Are (Where are?) The Misfits : nowhere to be seen in the film. Except at the end credits where it is rumored Kesha (as Pizzazz) makes a very brief appearance. I guess the movie makers are hoping it is so successful it spawns a sequel/franchise. I wouldn’t hold my breath. Also no Stingers, another group that made an appearance late in the series.
6 – The Big Deception: It actually seems like something straight out of a Misfits playbook. (Courtesy of IMDB) “The filmmakers made a request for fan participation in the form of open auditions for actors, singers, dancers, costume designers and other crew members to promote the film and to engage potential geniuses. It was later proved that this was just a viral marketing ploy in order to garner more attention for the film – the film was fully cast with Hollywood actors, cast and crew several months before this online casting call was put out.” Really?!! SMH.
7 – Showtime Synergy? : So much to say here. In the original series “Synergy is actually a machine created by Jerrica and Kimber’s father, Emmett Benton. She was designed to be a pseudo mother figure to the girls after his impending death and was even based on his wife Jacqui’s likeness. Through Jem’s earrings, Synergy can project highly realistic holograms, the main one being the hologram that turns Jerrica into Jem. Synergy is quite wise and speaks as if she were human; she doesn’t talk with a computer voice or just answer questions. She is almost an angelic type figure. Synergy can make herself appear in a human form, or any form she likes but rarely does. Synergy is extremely powerful and could be very dangerous in the wrong hands, so must she, and Jem must be kept secret at all times” (Courtesy Jem vs. Pranceatron Character Encyclopedia) In the upcoming film? Reduced to essentially a little projection robot one can pick up at ToysRUs. This has to be the biggest epic fail of the film as it neglects the very heart and soul of what literally made Jem – Jem. Synergy is absolutely integral and to turn the character into basically a toy turns my stomach.
8 – Old Trope: Young girl gets discovered unwittingly (this time via You Tube) becomes overnight sensation. Then has to decide whether to forsake her friends and go solo or stay true to what she knows is right. Not bad, but been done before 1000 times and ways. You could’ve taken almost any single episode of Jem the original series, fleshed it out, and had a more interesting story full of music, adventure and action. If you wanted it directed to a teen audience, why not focus on Starlight House, the girls who lived there and Jerrica working to keep it going?
9 – X Marx the Spot? Christy Marx (original creator) apparently does have a cameo in the film and has been very gracious when addressing the film publicly. But she was not included in any way in the creative process or consulted as part of the film. If she had been, I think the film would’ve stayed true to who Jem was and her story. It’s like leaving Stan Lee out of a Marvel film – unthinkable and very disrespectful to the talented Ms. Marx frankly.
Other reimagined reboots have somehow managed to retain an essence of the heart and soul of their original source. It is as if Chu never even cared or bothered to attempt it. The film is Jem in name only. That is the biggest tragedy of all. A live version Jem had the potential to be AWESOME AND EPIC in the true sense of the words. Instead, the fans of the original got slapped in the face – alienating and enraging them in many cases. TRULY OUTRAGEOUS? Yes – but not in the way Jem ever meant it.