Jem, A History | How Jem And The Holograms Almost Beat Out Barbie


BY: Lisa Hix (Collectors Weekly)

We got cable TV in 1983, the same year I discovered what I called “rock” music, thanks to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Since the “Thriller” video gave me nightmares, I wasn’t supposed to watch MTV, the all music-video channel that launched in 1981, but I did. Pretty much every kid I knew had it on in the background all the time. Why would an 8-year-old girl play with “babyish” toys when this colorful and rebellious world danced before her, beckoning from the screen?

In September 1983, Cyndi Lauper declared “Girls just wanna have fun!” According to the music video, fun entailed the wildest game of dress-up imaginable, with piles of petticoats and flamenco skirtsbeadsbangles, and glitter for days. The same month, Madonna turned heads with videos for “Lucky Star” and “Holiday,” synth-laden sassy-in-love songs, while making this punk-lite look even more kid-friendly, with floppy hair bows, cropped T-shirts, mesh gloves, and leggings. I practiced these starlets’ dance moves and adorned myself with twist beads and a chunky plastic charm necklaces. I even tried to tie measuring tape into a hair band.

With all these cartoon-like “rock” stars, it seemed inevitable that the next lady rocker would be an actual cartoon. When I was 10 in October 1985, “Jem and the Holograms,” an animated half-hour program about an all-girl band, made its debut. I was all about it, as were most tweens in the MTV Generation. Now, almost 30 years later, Jem and the Holograms are staging a comeback, via a new live-action movie, announced this March and set to premiere in 2016. And in case you doubt it’s meant to tug on the nostalgic hearts (and pocketbooks) of us Gen Xers, ’80s superstars Molly Ringwald and Juliette Lewis have been given yet-to-be-named roles in the film.

Even though “rock” has lost its cachet with the youth, Jem does have a shot at wooing Millennials. After all, untamed, feisty pop starlets—Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Pink, Kesha, Nicki Minaj, and Iggy Azalea—have conquered the Billboard charts.

Perhaps it’s the perfect time for Jem, the “truly outrageous” one, to descend from her star-shaped platform in the sky. But who is Jem and where exactly did she come from? And can the new movie hold a candle to the original series?

Rest of Article Can Be Found On Collectors Weekly Here

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