Jem and the Holograms: A truly truly outrageous examination of nostalgia and 80s feminist values

A little background: On Sunday afternoon I had a playdate with Jennifer's young daughter, Lenore.  We spent a couple hours coloring together in a vintage 'Jem and the Holograms' book of mine while discussing important topics like having blue hair, holograms, and which one of us started the color war that ended with both our hands being scribbled on. When Jennifer got Lenore home, all sorts of things were revealed.  So we discussed it by chat, naturally. 
- Corinne

RantingnRaven:  Ok so you win: Lenore wants to name her kids Stormer, Roxy, and Pizzazz.
VampireNomad:  AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  OMG.  That is all kinds of awesome.  She's going to have Misfit kids!  I rule!  I am the best!  Young minds?  SHAPED!!
RantingnRaven:  Hahahahahaha! You have made an epic impact on a young mind! Way to go! You are all kinds of awesome. She also was asked today what princess she wanted to be and she said Princess Leia.
VampireNomad:  Aw, she rocks. She has this feminism thing down pat.
At least I'm not influencing her towards idiotic things.
RantingnRaven:  She does. You are not and I am thankful for that. But more importantly you are getting her to grasp larger ideas / concepts that she wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise.
VampireNomad:  Like.... rock and roll and how computers can generate pink-haired holograms?
RantingnRaven:  Yes.  Rock n Roll is very important.
She wants you know that Rio has purple hair.
VampireNomad:  Haha.  Rio does have purple hair.  I explained him like "Rio is Jem's boyfriend.  Well also Jerrica's.  Well anyway, Rio is the boyfriend of whoever is the good girl Hologram and Pizzazz totally has a crush on him but he is not interested in her because he is loyal."
RantingnRaven:  She just looked shocked when I told her. Did she give you the same look when you told her?
VampireNomad:  She has trouble grasping the Jem/Jerrica dichotomy.  It's a lot for her to process.  Also I had to explain that the Rockin’ Roadster wasn't "crashing" into the wall in the picture, it was driving THROUGH the wall because the wall was a hologram which is something a computer makes that is like film or air but isn't really a wall, it just looks like a wall so that things can go through it.  She looked confused by that too.  Talk about me giving her more than her age bracket to chew on!  Lol.
RantingnRaven:  Whoa! That's a lot to grasp, but good for her.  She needs to know about holograms and how they work.  She'll probably ask about them again and I can reiterate what you said.
VampireNomad:  Yeah, it's a tough concept.  I mean the entire show is based on holographic technology so I don't know how kids are expected to grasp the nuance of it.  I said Jem happens by a sort of computer magic because explaining it again seemed like too much.
She sort of understood the wall being a film, though.
RantingnRaven:  It is way too much to explain to kids when they don't have a frame to base the new knowledge in.
VampireNomad:  It will become easier for her as she watches the show.  Because when you watch it they are very good about hammering home the point about Synergy being a computer and being only able to "work magic" through the earrings.  It starts to click.
RantingnRaven:  Ya for sure,  She was talking about the earrings last night. I'd forgotten about the nuances of the show to be honest.
VampireNomad:  When you really think about it, and I'm not kidding about this, ‘Jem and the Holograms’ is one sophisticated show that was so ahead of its time.  I mean it’s smart, sassy, AND feminist.  And also stylish.  It let girls be girly but also strong, business-minded, talented, and organizers of their own fates.
RantingnRaven:  Truly it was ahead of its time. It also didn't assume that its audience was passive or stupid.  It was a great show. I know I loved it, but my friends wouldn't watch it.
VampireNomad:  Agreed.
I loved it to absolute pieces and honestly still do.
I was sort of alone in that but for the life of me I can't figure out why more of my friends didn't love it.
RantingnRaven:  I think I'm going to love rewatching it with Lenore.  It's something she and I can do together.
I wonder if it was too much girl power and not enough girls felt like they could take control of their lives.  Not enough feminism in their lives.
VampireNomad:  I feel like 'Jem' was too strong, yes.  Those girls ran an orphanage, a record label, AND a chart-topping band and always looked good doing so.  It's a lot to aspire to.  Maybe our friends just wanted lesser role models.  
RantingnRaven:  The girls on 'Jem' certainly had a lot going on for girls that grew up in chaotic situations and had men trying to take advantage and manipulate them. They always looked great. I agree; our friends didn't have high expectations of themselves. Sad really.
VampireNomad:  So sad.
I did also think Rio was a total tool.
RantingnRaven:  Ha! He was. Totally inferior.
VampireNomad:  Also he was VERY strict on rules.  He hated liars.  Which was epically ironic considering his girlfriend was lying about who Jem was (her) and he was lying about being attracted to Jem who he thought was another woman.  MEN.
RantingnRaven:  Gawd! That's ironic. He was a bit of a douche.
I just think that shows today don't compare in plot or messaging for young women.
VampireNomad: I agree!
I feel like today's shows endlessly hyper-sexualize girls and women and/or have them pursuing boys or relationships instead of other things.
RantingnRaven:  Yes, good point.
It's all about boys and relationships and there are very little hard hitting topical plots that discuss girls taking control of their own lives, striving for personal greatness through self-exploration and being strong and confident.
VampireNomad:  Agreed.  One of the brilliant things about Jem was that despite the Rio romance, she and the other Holograms were endlessly about things other than men.  They were either trying to raise money for a new Starlight House or trying to buy back Starlight Music from evil Eric or hosting a charity concert or whatever.  They were always about other things, not just men.  They looked great but even that wasn't about sexualization.  Shana was the costume designer of the group so part of that was her realizing a dream of her own in addition to being in the band.
RantingnRaven:  See now that's great messaging.  They were trying to further themselves while helping others.
VampireNomad:  Exactly!
RantingnRaven:  The costumes are totally not revealing at all; not even for the times.
VampireNomad:  They're mostly leggy but even then they're usually wearing tights.  There's very little in the way of ass or cleavage.  They look like rockers.  But covered ones.
RantingnRaven:  Exactly. They were rockers with morals. They didn't need to be revealing themselves to be heard. Which is a sharp contrast from today's celebs.
VampireNomad:  I admit my favorites were always the Misfits.  Or, as Lenore calls them, "the troublemakers".  I kept telling her that the "troublemakers" just wanted to be on top of the charts and they caused trouble but they weren't bad.  
RantingnRaven:  Ha! The trouble makers.
She was going on about the Misfits and she really loves all the characters. It's good for her.
VampireNomad:  Diversity!  Also do you remember the episode where Roxy wins a lot of money and takes off and throws a big party in her hometown and gets in debt and it's revealed she can't read which is how the debt happened (she couldn't read the contracts) so Jem and the Holograms show up and help her sort out payments and one of the Starlight orphans gives her a book that teaches her how to read?
Things like that are why I unabashedly love Jem.  And at the end Roxy is still kind of a bitch but secretly she reads that book to herself and it's awesome.  It's not schmaltzy but it works.
RantingnRaven:  I totally forgot about that episode. You are right, that is so awesome. What other program at that time would have dealt with an issue like debt and being illiterate in the same show?
And that episode also deals with wanting to please others and how that can adversely affect you.
I mean don't we all want to go "home" and throw a lavish party?
VampireNomad:  Totally.  She wanted to prove she'd made it.  And all she really proved was that she wanted back in the Misfits, needed Jem to help her out of debt, and needed to learn to read.  But they did it without shaming her.  They just helped her.
RantingnRaven:  I love that. It gets an A+ for all the right reasons.
VampireNomad:  And also because honestly Roxy is my all-time favorite.
I have such a soft spot for her.
RantingnRaven:  And rightly so...
Jem was always my fave and only because she was in charge and was never egotistical.
And, well, my name was pretty close to hers and my friends called me Jem.
VampireNomad:  I did love Jem.  
RantingnRaven:  I even dressed like her for a while.
VampireNomad:  Oh man, I will so call you Jem from now on if you call me Roxy.
RantingnRaven:  Ok Roxy, you got it! How many names is this now??
VampireNomad:  I think... twenty?  But who's counting...

- Corinne Simpson and Jennifer Ward