Saturday, 5 January 2008

Jem is excitement!

I really wonder how many of us remember Jem and the Holograms. I used to watch every single episode without fail as a little girl (giving away my age here!) and thought being a member of the Holograms was the coolest thing in the entire universe.

"Jem is the leader of the Holograms and the most popular singer of her day. She is the alter-ego of Jerrica Benton, owner of Starlight Music. Jerrica also runs Starlight House, a home for foster girls. Using the power of Synergy, an incredibly powerful holographic/audio synthesizer, Jerrica can become Jem by touching her special star-shaped earrings (the "Jemstar earrings") while saying "Showtime, Synergy" (Jem changes back to Jerrica by saying "show's over, Synergy"). A primary storyline of the series involves her hiding her identity from others, especially Rio Pacheco, who loves both Jem and Jerrica. The character was voiced by Samantha Newark and her singing voice was recorded by Britta Phillips."

Then there were the Misfits who I did like the look of but they were always scowling and frowning. The Misfits had, in my opinion, cooler hair, cooler music and cooler outfits but the scowwwlllsss.

"Phyllis 'Pizzazz' Gabor (Lead Vocals and Guitarist) — Pizzazz is an archetypal spoiled rich girl. Abandoned by her mother when she was a child, Pizzazz was raised by her tycoon father and given almost anything her heart desired. She is the primary antagonist on the show, constantly trying to upstage Jem and the Holograms. She has been shown to be attracted to Rio (Jem/Jerrica's paramour), Sean Harrison (British teen idol and Kimber's on-and-off boyfriend), and Riot (of The Stingers). She despises her real name "Phyllis" and is prone to fits of rage if things don't go her way."

Relationships in the cartoon were dead simple. The Holograms were good and Misfits evil. The Holograms always triumphed at the end. The Holograms would sing a song and the Misfits would sing a song. The crowd would prefer the Holograms despite the Misfits' efforts to sabotage their concerts. I suppose there was a lot of underlying tension even within the groups, for instance, Kimber being jealous of Jerrica for always being in the limelight - but at the tender age of 5 or 6 such nuances didn't really impress upon me.

My favourite character was (naturally!) Aja Leith. Aja was COOL. She was capable and independent. She was the calm one, the one who drove, loved sports. Aja was free of all that superficial emo nonsense that the other girls would grapple with. I revisited Aja on the Wikipedia site on Jem.

"Aja Leith (Lead Guitarist and Backup Vocals) — Aja is a Chinese-American foster girl who grew up with the other Holograms at Starlight House. She was the first one adopted by Jacqui and Emmett Benton, Jerrica & Kimber's parents. Naturally handy and a sports fan, Aja is cool and level headed. She is the girlfriend of Craig Phillips, the brother of the Misfit's keytarist, Stormer. Aja is almost always the driver of the Rockin' Roadster."

When I described Aja to a couple of friends, they were annoyed. How STEREOTYPICAL, they exclaimed. Just because she's a Chinese girl you naturally assume, due to China's one child policy at that time, she HAD to be the poor orphan who Jem's rich parents graciously adopted.

Well not really, Shana the bassist was also adopted by Jem's parents. It still sounds a bit dodgy because Shana is African-American... who plays bass... ok.

I suppose it was good that they tried to ensure that minorities were represented. To be honest, I never thought Jem and the Holograms was stereotypical in any way. I loved it. I loved Aja. I loved Jem and Shana. In fact I tried painting my face with the two pink stars so I would look like Jem. My mother wasn't impressed when she saw what I did with her fresh tube of lipstick.


Hayley said...

I found your blog when I googled Jem. I, too, loved Jem! I really wish that Hasbro would do a come back or at least some DVDs so that my daughter could watch them.

Elle Zhang said...

Hi Hayley! Thanks for visiting. I know, they're pretty good clean role models for little girls too :)

Dead Pleasures Design said...

Hayley: check They have a full 3 season boxed set with a full disc of extras.