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Monday, April 27, 2015

The Starlight Girls of Jem

Is it just me, or are we on a huge 1980s nostalgia kick this decade?

Not that there's anything really wrong with that.  The 1980s defined my childhood, and there were a lot of fun things about that decade that forever shaped who I am as a person.

I mean, one has to take a look at the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" reboot, the "Transformers" reboot, and the "Smurfs" reboot to really understand that the 1980s are back in full force.

There's even talk of a "Jem and the Holograms" live action movie that is set to air at the end of the year.

Yeah, that's right.  Jem and the Holograms.  That girl group inspired by a doll line that sang a whole bunch of cotton candy fluff songs that were truly, truly, truly outrageous and made a catchphrase out of "Showtime, Synergy".

Yeah, I don't really know how that's going to work either.

Now, here's a confession.  I don't really remember watching Jem when it first came out.  But I've done an entry on the show, and had to do some research and found that the cartoon's not that bad.  Mind you, the show is marketed towards a female audience, but the music lover in me secretly kind of likes a couple of the songs played on the cartoon.

(Though, admittedly, I think that if I were a cartoon character in 1985 - the same year the cartoon was first screened - I'd probably be a Misfits fan.  Nothing against the Holograms...just that the Misfits had better sounding songs.)

Anyway, I suppose it makes sense to do a Jem movie.  The movie is set to come out right around the 30th anniversary of the cartoon series, so the timing is perfect.  I just have to wonder how they plan to make it happen in a 2015 world?  I mean, let's face it, the computer that Jerrica Benton used to create Jem was the size of a small transport!  In 2015, she may have USB drives attached onto her earrings for all we know!

One thing that I am sure will remain the same though is the original story of Jem.  When Jerrica Benton's father dies, he leaves her part ownership of Starlight Music, and full ownership of the Starlight House For Foster Girls.  Jerrica's sister Kimber, and two former Starlight Girls - Aja and Shana - help Jerrica raise the twelve young orphan girls who call Starlight House home.  Unfortunately, the other half of the record company was left to the slimy Eric Raymond, who plans to use the company profits to finance the promotion of his new band, The Misfits.

And that doesn't suit well with Jerrica.  When her father ran Starlight Music, all of the profits made by the record company went towards funding Starlight House.  And with Eric threatening to cut off the cash flow to the Starlight Girls, Jerrica decides to put her cards on the table.  Receiving a final gift from her father of Synergy, red star earrings, rock star fashions, musical instruments, and a cool car, Jerrica decides to become a pink haired rock goddess named Jem, and Kimber, Aja, and Shana become her Holograms.

(Now, throughout the course of the show, only a handful of people discover that Jem and Jerrica are the same person - and considering that Kimber is Jerrica's sister and that Jem and Jerrica were rarely in the same room together, how could the world be so incredibly stupid?)

Anyway, Jem and the Holograms managed to get full control of Starlight Music, and when Starlight House burned down, they won a Battle of the Bands contest against The Misfits, and won a new mansion for the girls to live in. 

But don't think that it was easy to balance making hit records and taking care of twelve orphaned girls.  Certainly each of the Starlight Girls provided their own set of hassles for Jerrica, Kimber, Aja, and Shana.  So, I thought that I would use this space to talk about a few of the memorable ones.

I suppose of the of the first Starlight Girls that we meet in the series is Ashley.  Ashley is basically your stereotypical bratty girl in that she doesn't like to take orders from anybody, and she wants to be her own person.  And she's also introduced as being a bit of a "take what may or may not be rightfully hers" personality when she swipes money from the house's "Honor Jar".  She's forced to pay back thirty dollars - which she gets from The Misfits - and she decides that The Misfits are going to be her real role models.  Aside from Stormer who treats Ashley with respect, the rest of the Misfits only want to use her to destroy Jem and the Holograms, and eventually Ashley sees that Jerrica has had her back all along.

It's actually quite amazing to see the complete turnaround that Ashley made in just the course of a couple of episodes.  She went from being a bad girl wannabe to a regular Pollyanna.  It would almost be believable if the change wasn't so sudden.  All in all, Ashley would prove to be a leader in Starlight Mansion and served as a bit of a caretaker for the other girls.

Deirdre was also another one of the older girls, and she could be considered a role model as well, even though she had a really sensitive personality.  Her personality was so sensitive that she when she felt that Jerrica and Jem were brushing her off, she decided to run away from Starlight Mansion along with two other Starlight Girls.  Fortunately, Deirdre found out that life on the streets wasn't nearly as much fun as she thought it would be, and she returned home in time to watch a benefit concert that Jem and the Holograms were throwing in support of a home for teenage runaways.

Nice tie in, don't you think?

Krissie was another Starlight Girl that the show focused on.  She was one of the girls who ran away with Deirdre, but she did it to keep an eye on them, showing that she may very well be the most mature Starlight Girl of all.  Mind you, her maturity has taken a backseat to her ability to have common sense.  She's almost fallen off of high places twice.  And she certainly didn't take too kindly to the fact that a boy named Domenic Lerner was making fun of her and bossing her around.  They later became friends though after she promised to teach him how to swim.

And then there's Ba Nee.  Ba Nee was Jerrica's favourite Starlight Girl, and she basically did everything for her.

Unfortunately, Ba Nee is probably the Starlight Girl who has caused the most stress.

I mean, when your eyesight is failing, and Jem and the Holograms work hard to make a movie so that the profits could help fund an operation to save her sight, how does Ba Nee thank her?  By running away from home with Deirdre and Krissie!  Um, yeah...thanks for saving my sight, but I hate living here, and so I must leave.  What the hell, Ba Nee?

Don't even get started on the whole "my father is alive and he has red hair, and therefore every man who has red hair must be my dad".  This was Ba Nee's whole plot during the whole series.  And what did searching for her father get her?  Well, she almost got eaten by a bear, and she got kidnapped by a man who claimed to be her father, but was actually only claiming to be so he could have access to Jem's money.  And of course, Jerrica had to endure Ba Nee's crying about how she wanted a father, regardless of how good Jerrica and the rest of the Holograms treated her.

Yeah, Ba Nee was just...yeah.  At least she tried to help Roxy from the Misfits learn how to read.  So, she's not completely a loss.

At least from what I hear, she did reunite with her father and the series concluded with Ba Nee leaving Starlight Mansion for good - probably causing Jem and the Holograms to breathe a sigh of relief...ahem...feel sad that she was leaving, but happy that she was with family.

Anyway, those were just four of the Starlight Girls.  Any fans of Jem...can you name the other eight?  And what were some of your favourite memories?

1 comment:

  1. I might be wrong but according to a later ep the oldest starlight girl after Aja and Shana is name Lela (she moved in when Kimber was little before their mother died)