As a true daughter of the '80s, I've been holding my breath in anticipation of the first Jem and the Holograms trailer, and now that it's dropped, I really wish it hadn't. Where are the laser lights? Where is the rock and roll?
Where are the freakin' holograms?
For those of you who aren't familiar with Jem, let me tell you — this is not the Jem that fans remember. The original cartoon centers on Jerrica Benton, the executive behind Starlight Music, who uses a super-awesome holographic computer to create an alter ego named Jem, a pink-haired rock star who fronts the band Jem and the Holograms.
As someone who knew all the songs and spent too many hours pretending to be Jem as I rocked out in weird wigs everywhere I could, I can tell you that the cartoon was awesome. And I'm obviously not the only one whose imagination was hypnotized by the series, because the film is the result of a huge fan-led push to make a live-action adaptation in the first place.
But WTF happened?
Aubrey Peeples' (Nashville) Jem isn't a music exec, she's a YouTube pop princess who gets made over by a crazy record exec (Juliette Lewis). Seduced by fame, Jem abandons her friends before realizing that fame is just a hologram (head smack) and now she has to win back her friends and be true to her self (mock gasp) if she's ever going to achieve her destiny.
The original Jem and the Holograms is about friendship, sure, but it's also about a group of totally rocking ladies who have a super-computer that helps mask their identity with futuristic holograms. It's about Jem and her bandmates having some epic rock battles against The Misfits, a competing (and evil) band from a competing (and evil) label. Take all that away, and what have you got? Yet another (boring) morality tale about how fame and fortune corrupt, and how being yourself is the only way to overcome blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda...
The most infuriating thing of all is that by watering Jem's story down to the most common denominator, they're cheating a whole new audience out of something truly outrageous and instead selling them a tired after-school special that, let's be honest, we've already seen. Even Aubrey Peeples has to be rolling her eyes a little, due to the fact that Jem's "I must learn to be myself" character arc so closely reflects her character's arc on Nashville.
But, obviously, Hollywood thinks girls need to be told — yet again — that fame is dangerous and that we should always be happy with who we really are... as long as we look like the totally gorgeous women having these epiphanies on the silver screen.
Well, let me save you some time, Hollywood — we get it. Now give us a movie that rocks instead of reducing our childhood heroes to this tired female trope-laden drivel.
Jem and the Holograms hits theaters Oct. 23, 2015.
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