Yesterday’s announcement about a “Jem and the Holograms” movie is giving us a lot of feelings, not all of them good. Yesterday, in a cute viral video, “G.I. Joe” director Jon M. Chu, horror movie producer Jason Blum (of Blumhouse Productions), and Bieber believer Scooter Braun took to YouTube to announce their new project and call for video auditions.
Chu described it as “a modern-day, live action, reinvention of the 1980’s Hasbro classic cartoon,” with Blum helpfully adding, “If you have a cool mom, she’ll definitely know what it is!”
Braun discovered Justin Bieber on YouTube, inadvertently creating the TMZ monster running amok today; incidentally, that’s also how they’re looking for “Jem” cast members. You do the math. Blumhouse has been behind some good quick-and-cheap horror franchises, like “Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious,” “Sinister,” and “The Purge,” and some really bad ones, like, well, the endless parade of “Paranormal Activity” sequels.
OK, so far we’re feeling really great about these guys making an adaptation of “Jem,” also because we’re all cool moms. Yeah, YOLO! LOL!! (Ed note: We’re actually not, but the sentiment holds.) To add insult to injury, “Jem” creator Christy Marx isn’t involved. Like, at all. Marx posted on Facebook an even-handed but honest take on this development, writing that she only found out about the project when “[s]omeone high in the Hasbro PR department thoughtfully reached out to me to let me know about the movie and the impending announcement so that I wouldn’t be blindsided by it. I appreciated that gesture.” She also had kind words for Chu, who rang her up for a little chat. Chu, who also directed “Step Up 2,” “Step Up 3D,” and “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” knows from teens and what they like, so he’s not necessarily a bad choice. Plus, he did the right thing by (eventually) reaching out to Marx to discuss the project; he didn’t have to. Marx wrote, “He treated me with honesty and respect. He is sincere, passionate, and filled with a desire to make the best Jem movie he can make.”
But that doesn’t mitigate the bitter truth, which is that Marx has nothing to do with the project, and that the most prominent people attached to the movie are all dudes. She wrote, “Many people wonder how I feel about it. I don’t think I can hide that I’m deeply unhappy about being shut out of the project. That no one in the entertainment arm of Hasbro wanted to talk to me, have me write for it, or at the very least consult on it. I wouldn’t be human if that failed to bother me.”
Even though the idea of the Misfits taking to Facebook and Twitter to talk smack about Jem and the Holograms is pretty grotesque to those of us who grew up in the ’80s, the glaring gender disparity here is even worse. Marx says it best: “My other unhappy observation is that I see two male producers, a male director and a male writer. Where is the female voice? Where is the female perspective? Where are the women?”
It’s the 21st century, so here’s hoping that “Jem and the Holograms” will appeal to kids regardless of gender. However, Hollywood isn’t exactly known for its progressive gender politics, and you can rest assured that the original cartoon’s target market of tween girls will remain the movie’s target market. It’s all too typical to see young male directors and producers given huge budgets for big properties, but it seems especially outrageous that there isn’t even one woman attached to “Jem.”
Gallery | 8 Cartoons That Deserve Their Own Movie
- ‘Aaahh!!! Real Monsters’
Way before Disney and Pixar came up with “Monsters Inc.,” Nickelodeon had “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters” and the terrifying spook techniques of Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm. But even though they creeped us out as children — Oblina liked to pull out her organs and Krumm had terror-inducing armpit stench — we loved them.
While the monsters-scaring-humans movie has already been done, the creepy characters of “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters” would offer a grittier version of the monster story because they’re, yes, real monsters.
Everyone’s favorite cynical, sarcastic cartoon teen is a true emblem of the ’90s. Last week we got a peek at what a “Daria” movie would look like (if Aubrey Plaza isn’t the perfect Daria then no one is), but sadly it wasn’t real. As the antithesis of Hollywood-depicted teens and high school life, “Daria” would be the ideal cartoon to make into a movie, especially with today’s nostalgic hipsters. We can still dream…
- ‘The Ren & Stimpy Show’
“Happy, happy, joy, joy” is exactly what we’d sing and shout if Ren and Stimpy got their chance at Hollywood. The infamously inappropriate (can you believe your mother let you watch the show?) cat and dog duo were undoubtedly weird and creepy, but their goofy bizarre humor would be perfect in a feature film; it would certainly be an instant cult hit (midnight “Ren & Stimpy” showings anyone?).
A collaboration between Warner Bros. and Steven Spielberg, “Animaniacs” was like the kid version of “Saturday Night Live.” The show starred the Warners, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, three cartoon characters from the ’30s who were locked away in the Warner Bros. tower, as well as a large cast of characters, both real and fictional. “Animaniacs” was a truly inventive and witty show. If it was brought to the big screen, it would certainly live up to its reputation.
- ‘Space Ghost’
We were first introduced to the Hanna-Barbera superhero in the 1960s when he fought evil villains with his sidekicks and little monkey. Although the first Space Ghost cartoon ended in 1968, he returned in 1981, and again in 2008, when Cartoon Network got him his own talk show. If the yellow-caped hero has kept us entertained for nearly 50 years fighting bad guys and interviewing top celebrities, then why wouldn’t he be fit for the big screen?
- ‘Pinky and the Brain’
Airhead and genius mice taking over the world — could there be a better animated movie scenario? Pinky and the Brain, two genetically enhanced lab mice, were first introduced on a segment of “Animaniacs” and then got their own show for their own shenanigans. The duo could get any kid to laugh, and the chance to watch them devise (and fail at) more taking over the world schemes in a feature film would be nothing less than a blast.
- ‘Rocko’s Modern Life’
Nickelodeon’s “Rocko’s Modern Life” was a satirical ’90s cartoon with just the right amount of weirdness. An Australian kangaroo in Hawaiian shirts, a chubby cow, and a neurotic turtle are the oddest yet most eclectic bunch of characters the big screen could want. We would all love to see more of Rocko and friends’ wacky adventures in a major Hollywood (or Holl-o-wood, as they call it) movie.
- ‘Dexter’s Laboratory’
Cartoon Network’s “Dexter’s Laboratory” was the perfect show for any kid who wished they had their own secret lab. Dexter was always inventing the coolest things, from his Mom-droid (yes please!) to his Robotic Arm (that would certainly come in handy). If Dexter and his annoying sister Dee Dee got a chance to grace the big screen we bet we would get a look at a whole array of awesome inventions — and maybe even some fun movie merchandise to play with!
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