The story behind the name:

One evening, at the Old Broadway Grill in Fargo, North Dakota, my brother caught the end of a Mountain Dew commercial. In the commercial, a Mountain Dew drinker was riding a shark in the ocean. My brother exclaimed in surprise, not realizing that it was a commercial. When I told him he declared "All I saw was a guy coming out of the shower with a shark." Of course, he meant water, but the idea of showering with sharks has been with me ever since.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Time to Put Away Childish Things: Part 1

Two things happened recently which have prompted me to reflect upon my childhood... specifically, the toys of my childhood. The first happened in the Mall. I came across a display of Barbies through the ages. Several notable Barbies were displayed. I was particularly interested in the Barbies of the late 1980s to early 1990s, my own prime Barbie time.

The second thing that lead me down the road to my childhood was the recent live-action GI Joe movie. This movie was both horrible and awesome. Jared and I used to watch the GI Joe cartoons and the cartoon feature-length movie. Jared also had several action figures.

In light of these two events, I have decided to do a series of posts about memorable childhood toys. Yes, I will be discussing both Barbie and GI Joe, but not until later. I decided to devote my first installment to:


Jem is excitement. At least, that is what the theme song of her show used to say. According to Wikipedia (yeah, I know, I never allow my speech student to cite Wikipedia as a source) Jem the cartoon was based on the Jem dolls by Hasbro, of GI Joe fame. Jem was the rocker alter-ego of Jerrica Benton, owner of Starlight Music and Starlight House, a home for foster girls. Jem and her band, the Holograms, got into many different adventures, competed with rival band the Misfits (whose songs, they claimed, were better), and were all-around glamorous and musical.

I have mentioned Jem to several people in the last few days and no one really remembers her. I, on the other hand, can still sing most of the Jem theme song. I had many of the dolls as well. I remember liking Jem's pink hair and sparkly outfits. I played with Jem during the same time I played with Rocker Barbie. Jem and Rocker Barbie shared similar tastes in make-up and wardrobe.

As a rhetoric scholar now, I can't help but wonder what I learned from my play with Jem and the Holograms. I guess Jerrica/Jem was a strong female role-model. After all, Jerrica DID run her own company and Jem and the holograms DID win a mansion in the battle of the bands. Of course, I don't think I needed Jem to be a strong female role model. I had my mom for that.

Another big theme, at least in the Jem cartoon series, was the struggle to keep Jerrica and Jem separate. There are probably parallels here that can be drawn between Jem/Jerrica and any other person who wears multiple hats in a day. This week I've been Mom, Wife, Teacher, Adviser, Friend, Confidant, Counselor, Citizen, Faculty, and Bitch. When you get right down to it, don't all of us have some identity we're trying to suppress? And, if I'm really being honest with myself, I do think there is a pink-haired, pink-eye-make-uped rocker inside me longing to be free.

In closing:

Anyone out there remember Jem? Anyone want to share their hidden Jem?


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  2. I absolutely remember Jem! I would have had pink hair just like her if my mom would have let me. As for those rocking earrings, I had to make due with the stick-ons. I also had a roommate who owns all the DVDs. I have brought the show up lately as well and gotten the same "what are you talking about" reactions. No one seems to have any trouble with Rainbow Bright however.

  3. Because it is a sexist world, and sex role stereotypes and expectations oppress both men and women, I'm sorry to say that I can't chime in on this topic; it's not part of my experience. I sort of remember G.I. Joe, but Jem is a total mystery.

  4. Isn't Jem "truly outrageous"? When I was in college, my friends and I had alter-egos who would come out at parties. My friend Jenny's alter was "Jem" and she was truly outrageous!