Jem Watch 2015, the video.

So this was released a few days ago.

Oh, live action Jem and the Holograms movie, you never cease to disappoint. I have already waxed on about how the plot of the original cartoon has been stripped to the bones and then put through a blender poured out and preformed shaped product. They took filet mignon and turned it into Spam. I have already dissected the plot elements here. Go check it out.

My first thought was that if the movie is as terrible as it seems maybe the music is good. There might be some pop gems that rise to the surface as some kind of saving grace. After all the majority of the cartoon was cheesy-fun music videos featuring Jem and the girls traveling the world, fighting to save Starlight House, or facing off in a battle royale against the Misfits. If the above video is any indication, this new movie is sadly lacking in dynamic music as well.

Nothing against the talent of these young girls. I have seen Audrey Peebles in other venues and she is a fine performer in her own right. In this video she just looks bored. (I’m looking at you Production Team!) Maybe it is because the audience is full of extras and she knows that the cheers are not genuine. Maybe she is trying not to externalize her reaction to the cringe worthy sleepover karaoke antics that they have the girls doing on stage. In the original cartoon the girls actually PLAYED the instruments, instead of flouncing around in front of random other people.

Jem and the Holograms are supposed to be the only ones on the stage, because they DOMINATED the stage. I can’t for the life of me figure out WHY Universal has stripped this movie of everything that appealed about it. Time and time again audiences had proven that a strong female lead CAN carry a movie. Have we learned nothing from Mad Max: Fury Road, The Hunger Games, Divergent?

I don’t know what they are thinking, but every time I read a plot summary of the new movie it is unrecognizable. IMDB describes the plot as follows:

“As a small-town girl catapults from underground video sensation to global superstar, she and her three sisters begin a journey of discovering that some talents are too special to keep hidden.”

Let’s compare it to the plot summary of the original.

“Jerrica Benton is secretly the leader of the glamorous and exciting music group, Jem and the Holograms.”

In just these few words one can already see the difference. Universal has taken a character and pigeon-holed her from a dynamic active participant in charge of her own fate, to one that is passive. She “catapults” , literally thrown into stardom. “Journey of discovering”, internal and emotional. The cartoon describes Jem as a “leader”, “glamorous and exciting”. The thing is, children watched the original show because Jem already knew who she was. None of this namby-pamby find yourself nonsense. Plus the added dynamic of having to face off against Eric Raymond and his band of evil Misfits, with the added pressure of trying to save a house full of foster children. All of this paired with the recent loss of her father, and any teenage girl would have crumbled under the pressure.

Jem did not.

She rose to the occasion and she looked good doing it. There was not internal struggle about “oh can I handle being famous” or “oh should I betray my sisters and go solo”. No. The previews so far show this portrayal of Jem crumbling at the first sign of pressure. In fact that is the whole conflict of the film. Audrey Peebles is a talented girl, as I am sure the rest of them are too. I can only hope that she finds another star vehicle to show off her skills after this movie fades into oblivion. This movie will not do well, and I am sad to say so. I had high hopes.

Goals For the Day

I’m sitting in my “quiet office” as I call the space I use away from my home, staring out the open door to the green of the trees, enjoying the still cool fall morning. I have a boat load of work to do. And so I post here for a dab of accountability.

Pro work: 7K

Zstory: 1K

Be outside: 1 hour.

I’ll check back later to see how I have done.

Cheers everyone!

Movie Review: Thale (2012)

Thale (2012)_00

In an effort to expand the influence of our media input we stumbled across a little gem on Netflix, the 2012 Norwegian Thriller, Thale. We were first introduced to the joys of Norwegian Independent film a couple of years ago when we watched the runaway thriller, Troll Hunter. If you have not seen that one yet, go see it. Now. Since we had so thoroughly enjoyed the first we decided to check this one out. Thale did not disappoint in any way. So far Norwegian films are two for two, so thumbs up to Norway. (No seriously. We want to check out more films from there, so if you know of any good ones, leave it in the comments for us.)

At the beginning of the film we are introduced to Elvis and Leo, two members of a crime scene clean up crew. Things get gruesome early on. Fair warning for the squeamish. Leo is the senior of the two and it is established fairly early that Elvis is filling in for someone else and this is not his usual assignment. When they arrived at a cabin in the middle of the woods to collect the remains of the deceased, they discover a series of evidence that unravels more questions than answers. Starting with the discovery of a hidden underground bunker the two men stumble across a collection of old canned goods, stacks of medical dictionaries and a mysterious young woman hidden within.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the movie is impressive on multiple levels. We were instantly hooked, and the themes ranged from delving into Norwegian Folklore (quite heavily), to the two men dealing with their own personal issues threaded throughout the film. One of the reasons I have always loved indie films is that the filmmakers have little to work with and must choose where they want their talents to shine. Thale is no exception. Set in a small underground setting the film captures the claustrophobic feel that the characters must be experiencing, the tedium, anxiety and confusion of Elvis and Leo is undeniably felt by the viewer, but it is the character of Thale that is the true prize of the film evoking both sympathy, mystery and terror.


The title character is played in brilliant form by the mesmerizing Silje Reinamo. What struck me the most about her performance is how much she says without saying a word. Traumatized by her ordeal she remains for the most part mute throughout, unable to share her story with the two men who find her. Just about every scene that she is in she demands the centrality of the movie with just her presence and expression. She is for the most part of the film, silent, naked and outnumbered, but not for a moment did the filmmakers treat her as anything less than a powerful entity in her own right. Watching her made me have one of those moments in which I wanted to fall into the movie and give myself completely to the story. Unfortunately I could not help but wonder if the film were to become Americanized or remade, how would they go about ruining it, sexualizing the character and making her a victim. In this film Thale is anything but. I shall spare the readers my internal rant.

There is a good bit of nudity but no sexual scenario whatsoever. Filmed in Norway the movie does contain subtitles, but most of the best movies have subtitles anyway. There are some elements of subtle humor. At one point I felt like Elvis was having a Dante moment reminiscent of Clerks. (“I’m not even supposed to BE here today!”) So if you like foreign films, films with strong female characters, Indie films, Fantasy Thrillers with a little bit of mystery, have a look at Thale. You will not be disappointed.

Overall I give Thale a solid 9 out of 10 popcorn boxes.

I Don’t Want to be a Feminist Any More

What do you call a woman flying a plane?

Give up?

A Pilot.

Most of you who are familiar with me on any level know that I am a pretty vocal feminist for the most part. It has been a gradual evolution over the course of my life and I won’t go into the details of it at this time. The thing is that once you step into that, once your eyes are opened to the reality of what it means to be a female in America, the constant media input as to what the expectations are about your body, your behavior, your role in society in relation to those around you, be they other women, men, children, your boss, your subordinates, etc. Once you see that you cannot unsee it.

There are constant reminders that it is the job of the female to exist in a state of constant prettiness as determined by outside forces, even to the detriment of her own sense of self-worth, physical well being and personal autonomy, and ignoring any body of knowledge, training or skills that said woman may possess.

Some time ago I stumbled across an opportunity to submit an essay to a contest, the subject being Feminist Utopia. My first thoughts were, hey, I’m a writer and a feminist. This should be easy!

But I sat down to write it, and…. nothing.

The more I thought about what a feminist utopia actually means to me in my very heart of hearts, the more I realized that a feminist utopia is…. utopia. Just a regular old plain vanilla utopia. Everyone has plenty of what they want and they get to live their lives according to their own choosing. For anyone and everyone. That’s it. That’s all.

Some time ago I walked to the library by myself. On the way I got catcalled no less than five times. Do I think it happened because I’m just so danged attractive as to cause people to descend into some primal mating response of making loud noises with so as to attract a viable female? No. I don’t think that.

To tell you the truth I cannot no matter how much I try figure out why people cat call. Has there ever in the history of the human race been an instance in which the woman stops what she is doing and chases down the car to gather the phone number of the catcaller because she was some overcome with desire? I don’t know. Not to my knowledge. The message I received after about the third cat call was that I am not allowed to be out in the world, simply existing in my own skin without inviting commentary no matter how rudimentary it may be. I am not allowed to walk down the street alone with my own thoughts without the shrill reminder thrown at me from passing car windows that I do not belong to myself.

Just ignore it.

Okay and then what. One has to have a certain level of awareness to ones surroundings when walking, whether it be in the woods, down a side walk, through a parking lot, through the middle of the tundra, wherever. As human animals it is vital to be aware of one’s surroundings. To “ignore” outside noises is irresponsible to one’s baser instincts of self protection. Sure, I could just keep walking without responding, but this is not the same as “ignoring”. The damage has already been done. The happy observation of the blue jay just up ahead has been interrupted. The idea that I was rolling around for another novel has been cut short. The inevitable sense of danger that raises the ‘fight or flight’ instinct has already been triggered. Ignoring is just not an option.

Take it as a compliment.

It is so hard to address this one, because once again cat calls and wolf whistles are not compliments. They are harassment. What this statement is really saying is that you don’t have a right to be upset. You don’t have the right to feel threatened. If you do, then the problem is with you. This invalidates a persons reaction probably more than any other statement, because not only are you forced to hear the message but also you are not allowed to have your feelings about it. They are not valid and you should not feel what you feel. Not only are you subjected to receiving the unwanted attention, but you are also forced to feel how we tell you to about it.

Don’t go walking alone.

Okay. Really? I am grown woman, forty years old. I should be able to go for a walk in my own neighborhood if I want to.


Thing is, once a person is aware of it. You can’t turn it off. I would have loved, LOVED to walk through my own neighborhood without the intrusion of verbal harassment. I would love to live in a world in which my children can play with whatever toys they want to without getting the stink eye. (Guess what. As long as they are at home they already do!) I would love to watch a movie and NOT notice the plunging neck lines, the gratuitous camera angles, the badly written story lines (forced romantic elements, anyone?). I would love to live in a world in which both men and women are seen as fully encompassed human beings, fully capable of existing within their own agency.

Someone asked me recently if I was “that” kind of feminist, you know, a man hating feminist. Um…

If I want equality, which is kind of the whole point, why would I hate that which I consider equal to myself? No, I’m not that kind of feminist, and I don’t know of many who are. Not personally, not theoretically. I have yet to find that stereotype of the man-hating she-beast who berates anything male as being less than. That is just the same problem over again, and the complete opposite of the goal of feminism.

I would love to be able to relax and just exist, being in the world in the manner that I see fit without having to fight just to walk down the street. Once that becomes a reality, I will happily no longer call myself a feminist.

In the mean time…

A letter to the next generation,

Dear youngsters,

Forty. Gah!!

They used to call this age “over the hill”. I categorically reject that notion. Forty is the new… what? Sixteen, is it? I haven’t really kept up with what is what, and what means what. It does not really matter. I’m still having fun. I have kept some notes along the way, and I wanted to pass some of them to the younger ones. Because you guys are EVERYWHERE!

They called us Generation X, the children of the Boomers. The ones after us are called Generation Y. The next ones after will have a different name, and so on.

We thought we owned the world, and we did for a little while, until 9/11 and then the recession, and the world died a little bit around us. We thought we would live our dreams, and we did for a little while until the daily grind of existence forced our hand. We thought ourselves invincible. And we were. For a little while.

You will not believe any of this, because the inevitable curse of youth is that the elders have nothing important to say. And the inevitable curse of the older generation is carrying the bits of knowledge that the younger ones will never heed.

You will have your fashion just as we had our flannels and combat boots. You will have your music, and you will think of it as the first to truly understand, to change the face of music forever, the first who really gets it… just as we had said about Kurt Cobain, and our parents said about Elvis and the Beatles. Whatever you listen to in your teens and twenties will be the music that you one day refer back to as “the last of the good music”. They don’t make it like they used to. We all have said it. You will too.

You will have your youth, your heart will get broken, you will make some messy mistakes, you will live, you will love, you will be hurt and you will feel joy. You will question your upbringing. And then you will question what ever caused you to question it in the first place.

One day you may have kids, and you will find yourself saying things you only thought your parents said. One day you will wake up to find that you don’t really care what kind of ‘statement’ your clothes make. One day you will look in the mirror and see that all of your hair is its natural color again. You will discover that whatever job you have, you have had for quite some time.

There are things that you have been told that are not true.You may have been told that it does not matter if you are a nice person as long as you follow the rules. This is not true. It matters if you are a nice person. It matters very much. Showing kindess to others is most important. The person receiving the kindness does not care why you are being kind, simply that you are.

Follow your dreams. The economy is improving, but it is still in the toilet. Being ‘responsible’ by having a day job will not pay the bills. So if the bills are not getting paid, it might as well be while you are doing something you enjoy.

Dig in. Life hurts sometimes. Find a way to cope with it. Life is also wonderful. You cannot have one without the other. We believed we could change the world. And maybe we did a little bit, just as our parents did, and just as you will.

There is no such thing as being too old to wear black eyeliner, or pink lipstick, or bold print flowers, or leather miniskirts, or Madonna’s pointy bra (though most of you are too young to get that reference). The point is if you are comfortable in something, if you feel good then go for it. Follow your instincts. Trust your gut. If something seems too good to be true then it probably is.

There. That is everything I have learned so far. There is more yet to come of course, so stick around. I’ll write another one of these when I’m 80. Oh, and one last thing. It’s all real. All of it. The conspiracy, the fairies, the dragons and monsters. Everything you have ever thought to be out of reach is there, just around the corner, just over your shoulder.

Go find it.


This forty year old.

Jem Watch 2015

Okay, so yesterday the long anticipated trailer for the live action Jem and the Holograms movie was released. Yaaaay! Said throngs of fans awaiting the much hyped event, that is until they watched the it, when the internet cried out with a great collective “Really!!??”.

For those of you not in the know, Jem and the Holograms was a cartoon series aimed at viewers between the ages seven to twelve (and up. Let’s be real.) The story starred a young girl named Jerrica Benton who tragically looses her father and inherits the music company Starlight Music and the foster home for girls, the Starlight Foundation. She also is given information which leads her to a secret underground room, revealing the large computer A.I. called Synergy. Through the magic of technology, Synergy had the ability to project a hologram onto Jerrica allowing her to become Jem, the truly outrageous pop star and lead singer of the band, Jem and the Holograms.

Of course one of the CEO’s of Starlight Music, the dastardly Eric Raymond, wants nothing more than to unseat Jerrica Benton and take over the music company for himself. He did this by coming up with various schemes involving his own star vehicle, the Misfits (Their songs are better). The resulting show consisted of wonderful chemistry between the Holograms and their enigmatic leader, fighting to keep her company while raising money to keep the home open for the poor orphans, against the archvillians the Misfits, the self centered fame hungry starlets.

Add to that the, secret identity aspect of Jerrica and Jem as only very few know that they are in fact the same person. It was Hannah Montana before Miley was even born. There was her somewhat confusing relationship with Rio, who had no idea that they both one and the same. It always made me wonder why Jem/Jerrica never had a problem with the idea of him cheating on her with herself. But it made for good television, so whatevs.

But the secret identity thing was a huge part of the show. Huge. It created tension which drove the story. Several episodes consisted of the ‘will she make it in time’ plot line in which one girl is expected to be in one place while the other has an engagement across town, or even better, when they are both expected to be in the same place at the same time, leading the viewer to wonder, what will they do??? (It’s showtime Synergy!)

Skip ahead about thirty years. We are presented with this:

Of course, this is just the trailer, and it could be misleading. But right off the bat, there are SEVERAL things very, very wrong.

One: Jerrica is an ordinary girl living a most unexceptional life. As of yet, there is not indication of any tragic backstory other than a veiled reference to absent parents. She lives with her aunt (who seems fairly attentive and caring) along with her various foster sisters in what appears to be an ordinary house (not any kind of foundation for girls or anything so high-falutin’). When Jerrica’s music is discovered, they are flown to a very L.A.-esque city (I’m assuming) to be transformed into Jem, her famous alter ego. Thing is, EVERYONE KNOWS THEY ARE THE SAME PERSON!!!! This takes away a key element of dynamic tension within the show. The relationship with Rio can now be classified as Boring McDullsville because there is no more “Who does he actually like?” The specifics of Jem/Jerrica being at odds with herself is being internalized creating a very angsty vision of the character, completely different from the confident, dynamic Jem of the original cartoon.

Two: Erica Raymond, gender flipped and played by Juliette Lewis, will probably turn out to be more evil than what this trailer hints. In the original cartoon, Eric Raymond had known Jerrica’s father as they worked together at Starlight Music. His ongoing plans to foil Jerrica’s inheritance made him that much more dastardly, as his actions betrayed the legacy of Jerrica’s father because he was his former associate. In the live action trailer, it appears that Erica is simply a regular old evil record producer, with no familial connection to the Bentons. Also, Starlight Music does not seem to be in anyway affiliated with the Benton family name or the foster home. I could be wrong. Time will tell. Removing this element of the story takes away from Jerrica’s drive to keep the foster home open and to run Starlight Music. The original Jem showed that girls could aspire to be shrewd business women and philanthropists (as well as drenched-in-pink fabulous pop stars).

Three, where the heck is Synergy? The early eighties represented a time when the nation was on the cusp of a technological boom. The dawn of the computer age presented us with dreams of new possibilities that previously had seemed impossible and magical. It was the representation of magic through technology that allowed Jerrica to turn into Jem through the use of a pair of computerized earrings. This device allowed her to communicate with the super computer Synergy and transform herself into Jem. In the trailer, there is a very brief scene in which she touches her earring and whispers the famed line “It’s showtime, Synergy.” Time will tell what that is referencing, but so far it just seems as if she is a girl with a haircut and a change of clothes. The magic has literally been eradicated from the story.

Four, where the heck are the Misfits? Every hero needs a bad guy. Batman has Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor. Jem and the Holograms had the Misfits. You can’t have one without the other. This trailer indicates the equivalent of Superman roaming the streets of Metropolis wrestling with his inner turmoil of “Who am I, Clark Kent or Kal El?” That does not make for an interesting movie. The conflict has gone from Person vs. Person, to Person vs. Self. They are going to lose the supposedly targeted audience if they haven’t already.

At the end of the day, the movie may end up being scads better than the first trailor indicates. I would hope. If not, then what they have done is taken a beloved story with many appealing and empowering messages and story lines, and they have completely gutted it. They have attempted to make a movie for today’s tweens and preteens and I’m assuming girls. Problem is they have failed to recognize what today’s girl wants, a good story. I was ten when I watched the original cartoon. I knew then what a good story looked like. Today’s ten year olds have not been given as much credit.

Truly outrageous. And I don’t mean that in the good way.


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