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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rewatching the entire Jem and the Holograms series - just because - while I crochet, and I remember that the reason I liked it so much as a child was that it doesn't appear to be one of those cartoons I hate in which it's the same episode every time, just slightly different. Think any cartoon in which the heroes decide to do something, the bad guys come in to screw it up, and the heroes defeat them and save the day. This cartoon is like that, but it gives a really good effort at trying to appear to have a different plot each episode.

I like how it tries to teach girls that they can have it all, a career, fame, love, civic duty/charity, etc. However, I think it does a BIG disservice to girls as well. Main character Jerrica has been together with her sweetheart Rio practically since the first day they met when she was a young teen. He went off to college for a while and came back and now works with her and they are officially a couple. Jerrica didn't go to college because her father owned a record company and she chose to change into her alter ego Jem and become a rock star. All good so far, except that Rio - without knowing that Jem IS Jerrica - has half fallen in love with her too, and Jem and Jerrica seem happy to share him. Still good because I think that's a valid option :-D

What bugs me is that - according to the backstory - Jerrica and Rio have been together for several years, and it shows them kissing and going on dates all the time. They are not ready for marriage, and that's okay, BUT they imply that nothing else has ever happened between them. Nothing. Yeah sure, it's a kids show and they don't want to tangle with the controversial subject of sex, but I think that it could have been added very subtly, such as mentioning that Jerrica spent the night at Rio's or maybe show her taking a birth control pill. There could have been one tiny scene in which she gave half a second's thought to what it would be like to marry Rio and have children someday, but no.

The reason I think this is a disservice is that it very falsely implies that a man in love would be willing to wait many years (an excessive amount) to go beyond the kissing stage. I think this is wrong, and that he would eventually get tired of waiting for her to be ready for him. I ALSO think it's a disservice because it implies that a girl should not be interested in anything more than kissing until she's ready to get married. That implication shames girls who think they might want more than kisses and makes them feel bad about themselves. As I said, it's a disservice.

To me, a good cartoon would model realistic choices. Such as Avatar the Last Air Bender. They made it clear from almost the first moment that Aang was in love with Katara and would like to marry her someday. She made it clear that she wasn't ready to think about that, and when he pushed her to say how she felt about him, she stated that she was confused. After the first series ended, they got married and had kids.
SEE? They didn't have to imply that anything was happening, but they didn't deny that it could or would eventually. They even have a scene in which Sokka was clearly waiting for his girlfriend to visit him in his tent. That's it and all that's really needed to show that they had a realistic relationship.

I know y'all are probably dying to tell me that it's a kids show and not to take it too seriously, but it's shows like this that provided a role model for a generation of girls. Rather than be a truly positive one, they decided to avoid all real issues and focus on showing girls that they could only be loved if they were beautiful, fashionable, and famous - not to mention sweet, kind, and willing to work themselves to the bone in order to get ahead.

What is that really teaching our girls?

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