I used to be an avid reader of ToyFare magazine. About 10 years ago, I remember reading an interview with Hasbro's brand manager for Transformers. He said that Hasbro's corporate strategy for Transformers was to reboot it every 5 years or so, so it'd always be fresh for the next batch of kids growing up. When the first Michael Bay Transformers movie came along, I went into the theatre with that mentality: this is not my Transformers, but a reboot for the next generation. And with that mentality, I found it more acceptable than most Transformers fans did.
The global success of Transformers taught Hasbro a very important lesson: thanks to many of their brands having been successful media franchises back in the 1980s, those franchises grew up to be very valuable intellectual properties. Adults raised on those toys and cartoons were now introducing them to their kids. They could get two whole generations. Transformers sequels, new cartoons, and new toys came out in droves. G.I. Joe was next. It all led to Hasbro launching their own TV network - the Hub - and its most unexpected juggernaut, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
For content for their new TV network, Hasbro dipped into their archives and dug out many of their classic cartoons from the 1980s. That led to another unexpected hit...reruns of Jem and the Holograms. I won't say too much. My blog entry on when I binge-watched the entire series on Netflix a few months ago says it all. But let it be known that I still believe Jem and the Holograms is the greatest thing Hasbro produced in the 1980s. It is so mired in the fads and trends of the time. It is the ultimate 1980s time capsule. It is cheezy. It is campy. It is truly truly truly outrageous.
And it has become another valued intellectual property for Hasbro.
A live-action movie version was announced over a year ago. Within months of its announcement came the announcement that production had wrapped. This film has already been sitting on the shelf for over a year. Directing it is John M. Chu, veteran of such modern-day movie musicals as a couple of the Step Up films and Justin Beiber concert film Never Say Never. And, he developed a good working relationship with Hasbro, having done G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
But still, what from the classic cartoon would remain? Would we still have a sentient AI be the source of Jem's transformations? Would there still be high adventure as the Holograms and the Misfits battle for pop chart supremacy? Would there still be music videos?
This film was flying so under the radar, that even blurry scans from magazines became huge news. But now, we have a trailer We have a trailer for a live-action Jem movie.
This trailer came out back on Tuesday. I've watched it about a dozen times now. And I can't. Stop. Laughing.
Am I angry and disappointed that Synergy isn't a sentient AI and the world's most powerful holographic projection system? Yes.
Am I disappointed that there's no Misfits there, causing trouble? Yes.
Am I upset that it doesn't feature the classic theme song? Yes.
But I can't. Stop. Laughing.
Does the plot look cliched as hell? Yes.
Does it look like a made-for-the-Disney-channel TV movie? Yes.
But I can't. Stop. Laughing.
Why am I laughing? Because we now live in a world where they've made a Jem movie. The beloved toys of my youth are no longer treasured memories. They're valued intellectual properties. They're brands to be exploited. The only way such a thing could ever reach this position is if my generation became grown-ups and started running the world.
Guess what? We are.
And the crazy thing is, we're responsible adults. The reason this is cliched and looks like a made-for-the-Disney-channel TV movie is because we started thinking, "Well, this is what the kids are into these days, so this is the only way it'll ever get made." We couldn't go all Guardians of the Galaxy and embrace the absurdities of the franchise because we stood up and said, "Think of the children."
This is it! We're adults! We are the runners of the world! We have reached the age where we
have the power to do whatever we want to make this the world we want!
And we used that power not to make the Jem movie we want, but the Jem reboot we think our kids want.
Jem and the Holograms comes out on October 23.