Truly, Truly, Truly Outrageous
By Noah Michelson
It�s brilliant. So Jem isn�t a sacred cow to you?
Oh God. I think if you can just find joy in it -- I mean, I laughed harder than I�ve laughed in a really long time when I saw those Robot Chicken clips. I try not to take myself too seriously. Of course Jem has a really beautiful, sacred place for people � a really tender place because it connects into their childhoods. But as adults, [those kind of satires] crack me up. Too good. Too clever.
I have friends who still get stoned and watch the Jem DVDs; there are Jem conventions, there�s the fan fiction -- why do you think people are still so obsessed with the cartoon almost 25 years after it first aired?
I think there are really just solid lessons about -- you know, Jem�s motto is [puts on an earnest, girlie voice] �Doing the right thing makes you a super star!� It�s just lessons like �Be a good person,� �Do the right thing,� �Character means something in the world and should mean something in the world.� I think we�re kind of watching the world spin out of control and all these lessons we learned as a kid make us say, �But wait -- how can these business people do that? And how can the government do that? What�s going on?� So I think the more we can connect to those good, real lessons we learned as kids -- I think basically everybody is deep down inside a good person and maybe they just want to connect to that pure� I don�t know, maybe I�m over-thinking it? There�s just a sweetness and people like to revisit that.
Do you think kids today would be into Jem? It seems, to me at least, that the innocence -- maybe even na�vet�? -- I had growing up in the �80s is missing for kids growing up now.
I really do. I think these are human lessons and they�re basic universal stories that we can all relate to. I don�t think those stories ever get old, they just get retold. There are a lot of fans now that have kids of their own and they introduce me to them at these conventions. They�re five years old and they come up to me and say, �I�m such a Jem fan. I�m hooked!� And they love it. They completely love it! And my nieces love it and my half-sister, she grew up with it. I absolutely think it�s still relevant. Maybe they�d make fun of the animation because everything is so sophisticated now, but other than that, I think that if they brought the show back tomorrow it�d do really well.
Do you attend the Jem conventions?
I started getting invited to conventions in 2006. I feel so fortunate to get flown around the country and to get to meet the Jem fans in person. I can hardly even describe what that is like, because you feel like you�ve been a part of something really special. Without even realizing it, I�ve made an impact in people�s lives.
Can we talk a little bit about Rio [Jerrica�s boyfriend]? I had the hugest crush on him as a kid. Do you think he was a total creep who was cheating on his girlfriend and had a desperate need for anger management classes or do you think he was the sweet, misunderstood boyfriend grappling with an emotionally unavailable girlfriend?
I think he was the misunderstood boyfriend. I don�t think he had a malicious bone in his body. I think he was just kind a dorky and he gave his power away quite a bit -- I just thought he was sweet. Almost too sweet.
Here�s my thing: Jerrica/Jem had proof that Rio was cheating on both of them, and yet, they didn�t do anything about it!
They never call him out on it. There were so many storylines that we could have delved into that we just didn�t get a chance to do. Last night I did a radio interview and a fan called in and said that there could have been this whole back story with Stormer [one of the Misfits] and Jem because Stormer was really a good girl but she was hanging with the bad girls. It would have been interesting to explore that more, kind of �Come over from the dark side!�
The other thing I noticed when I was watching old episodes was what a bunch of psychopaths the Misfits were.
[Laughs.] Oh, yeah!
They�re either setting something or someone on fire or they�re about to run over one of the Starlight orphans with a bulldozer --
It was extreme, right? Like trying to run people off a cliff!
But all Jem does after whatever disaster is averted is kind of weakly shake her fist in the air and say, �Oh, you Misfits!�
[Laughs.] It�s like, �Oh, those girls, they�re just never going to give up.� You see the extreme and yet there weren�t really extreme consequences. It was almost like Jem was rooting for them to be good in some way because she�s so kind. And like there�s enough for everybody � �There�s enough pie for everybody! We can all be famous! We can all do our thing!� [Laughs.]
This summer there was a live action G.I. Joe film in the theaters and there have been two live action Transformer films. Would you want to see a live action Jem film on the big screen?
If they could produce it so that it had the sweetness that I think the show had, then yes. Somebody was recently talking about Miley Cyrus because Hannah Montana is really the same thing as Jem. I just hope that if they did it, they�d cast somebody who has the sweetness and the kindness -- the softness about Jem. There was a softness about her that was really appealing, because she was a gigantic pop star and yet she didn�t have an attitude -- she just wanted everybody to win. She was very much a Pollyanna archetype, so if the [writers and producers] could pull that off, oh, yeah! I�d love it. Little girls everywhere would be freaking out.