jem 1_opt

Last week, I had to tune out of social media when the first trailer dropped fro the upcoming JEM movie. The reaction was predictable…”they screwed it up”, “wtf”, “nothing like its origin”, “#notmyjem”, etc.

The fallout got me thinking about two pop culture moments from the last ten years.

The first moment arrived in 2005, when one tentpole in the summer movie season was a DUKES OF HAZARD movie. You see that was my beloved childhood property. That was the show I never missed, the pyjamas I wore, and the poster on my bedroom wall. That car was the toy I wanted under the Christmas tree and I can only imagine how crazy I drove my parents with my continued cries of “Yeee-hawwwww!”.

So there I was in my mid-twenties getting a movie of something I had dearly loved as a child…and seeing right from the jump that what I was getting would be a silly cash-grab aimed at the nostalgia of people like me. Not like the property I adored in my youth was anything highbrow, but I’d wager there were other things that it could have been instead of being a reason for Jessica Simpson to wash a Dodge Charger.

What did I do? I shrugged, didn’t buy a ticket, and moved on.

Four years after that, in the summer of 2009, another one of my childhood properties got the big screen treatment: this time, G.I. JOE. This was the cartoon I never missed, the other pyjamas I wore, the toy I sent my family combing through toy stores for every Christmas.

Once again though, it was clear from the word “go” that I’d be getting a silly cash-grab aimed at the nostalgia of people like me.

What did I do? I shrugged, didn’t buy a ticket, and moved on. Oh, and this time, I wrote something about it…and this week that piece seems quite timely in light of Jem.




So where am I going with this? Am I suggesting that I’m “better” than fans of Jem (or Mad Max, or Jurassic Park, or…) because I didn’t squawk on social media about the bastardization of my beloved childhood memories? No, not at all.

Where I’m going is to wonder if we realize how great we have it that we can cling to these childhood memories and discuss them at-length. Last week, I thought about my parents at my age, and how they were already married for fifteen years and raising two boys. They didn’t have the time, money, or opportunity to grouse about which of their favorite old songs was being ruined by a popular cover. Even if they did, something tells me they’d feel like they had bigger fish to fry. Not that my parents didn’t care about pop culture (they never missed an episode of Dallas), nor were they above acting like kids once in a while (the night I snuck downstairs late and found them playing Nintendo will forever be etched in my brain).

It just seemed like then, as now, they got settled, had kids, and “grew up”…as did every other adult their age.

Now though, it’s a different story. People – parents, even – my folks’ age collect comic books. They go to fan conventions. They play with toys. They watch cartoons. They never miss a beat on their parental responsibilities, and yet their pastimes and attitudes suggest that they are in fact Lost Boys…following The Pan’s lead, dressing up like bandits, never wanting to grow up. On the one hand, I find nothing wrong with youthful exuberance, and think that it’s a luxury that should be soaked up while it lasts. On the other hand, I think there’s a world of difference between youthful exuberance and cloaked immaturity.

These tweets and Facebook comments are our grown-up version of stamping our feet and holding our breath. This failure to allow any adaptation for a new audience is the grown-up version of not wanting to share our toys. Our parents didn’t understand us when we were children because the times changed. Oddly enough, they still don’t understand us now because times didn’t change again.

This isn’t helpful. Holding on to our youthful ideas isn’t making us better people or helping create new ideas for the next generation to cling to. hell, if we hold so tightly to what we loved as children, I’m terrified to think of what our children are learning.

I love being able to buy comic books and wear baseball caps and never worrying about it all prompting a second glance from a passer-by, but maybe it’s time for us to pack up our things and finally leave Neverland…