Well, it’s happened. Integrity Toys has partnered with Hasbro to capitalize on the nostalgia of late-20 to mid-30 somethings and create Jem and the Holograms collector dolls. It worked for Barbie. Now for $125, you can have a Hollywood Jem right out of season two. Only now she kind of looks like a cross between Debbie Harry and RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Morgan McMichaels.
It was kind of inevitable. Collector dolls are big business; just ask any hardcore Barbie fans or even some of comic geeks (just don’t call them dolls!) And of course, after the explosive popularity of the Transformers live-action movie and the not-as-explosive popularity of the G.I. live-action movie and the successful reboot of the My Little Pony toy line, Jem was the logical next step. Not to mention, Jem fandom has stood the test of time: there’s a JemCon (yes, there’s a JemCon) and the TV show box set sold pretty well. So I get why Integrity Toys would release a collector doll, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. And in the case of Jem and the Holograms, I am vehemently against it.
Jem and the Holograms has remained one of the few, relatively untouched remnants of 80’s pop culture, precisely because it is SO DAMN 80’s. The neon colors, the keytars, the “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” hair, the keytars, the questionable sartorial choices (Pizazz and her one knee-high sock), the keytars, the 2 minute highly repetitive songs advertising the latest doll (“Glitter and Gold”) AND THE KEYTARS. I am a firm believer that the only reason we haven’t seen a live action version of Jem yet is because no screenwriter has figured out how to approach it. Is it a nostalgia piece set in the 80’s? Will Jem and the Holograms/The Misfits somehow be transported to the present day and go through culture shock? Will it be a snarky statement on the music industry in the post-Napster age? Clearly I’ve been thinking about this, but either way, I’m glad nothing serious has ever come from it.
My Jem fandom has unwavered because it’s been able to exist firmly in my memories (and YouTube), and I fear Jem’s move into collector doll territory is the last step before a full-on reboot. New dolls that look like Bratz or something. A live action movie with Katy Perry that is “darker” than the TV series (whatever that means) and with updated crappy Katy Perry music, because, of course.
So I know, if I don’t like the doll I don’t have to buy the doll, and I won’t. (I bet you they are totally gonna make the Shana doll, if they make one, look like a purple haired Beyonce) But these days, what seems to pass as popular culture these days is just lazy retreads from the 80’s. Transformers was ruined for me, so was G.I. Joe, now Jem is about to get destroyed and I WILL NOT STAND FOR IT. I WANT MY MEMORIES. At this point the only 80’s toy/cartoon nostalgia I’ll have left is She-Ra. And that’s not really worth remembering.
When I first learned there would be new Jem dolls, my initial reaction was “MINE!” But then I read this and I was all “Yeah, you have a point.” I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am easily swayed.
Have you seen these, by the way? They’re kind of old, but I think you might be interested:
OK. Shana looks BADASS. I want her hair.
I really liked your article. I think that the Jem doll definitely looks a lot like Debbie Harry but not like Jem. Jem always looked friendly and happy not tough and snarky. I also share your dislike of Katy Perry, she’s just expensive wigs, auto-tune and ego. The one good thing that I can tell you though is that I’ve read the creators of the show are trying to reboot it however they’re running into so many legal hindrances that it probably won’t happen. Thank goodness for legal obstacle courses. Hopefully Jem will just remain a treasure of the 80’s.