August 20th, 2006

still ibarw

Step Up (2006)

Before writing this out, I feel I must note that I adore Dirty Dancing, Save the Last Dance, and all those rather predictable, step-by-step, learning to dance movies.

So, the dancing was awesome. The characters... were not as bad as they might have been, and were even believable sometimes.

What I thought was interesting was how multi-racial the background was. Tyler, the main character, has been in and out of foster homes for forever. His best friend is black, and they both steal cars together and etc. Tyler's white. Tyler also has a younger white foster sister, and a younger black foster brother. I wasn't sure what race Nora, the heroine, was -- she's clearly upper-class and very wealthy. I thought she might have been Hispanic, but her mother didn't seem like it, so I'm not sure. If she was, I liked the flip-around of the white guy being the poor, uneducated, in trouble one, and the person of color being the wealthy one.

The art school isn't just a haven of upper-middle-class kids; the director tells us early in the movie that many of the students are there on scholarships. I loved the initial shots of the school, of the black kids playing classical music on violins in the hallway, of random Asian, Hispanic, and black faces everywhere.

I wasn't sure why they decided to make Tyler white though. It reminds me a great deal of the Eminem phenomenom described in Everything But the Burden; how white artists are the ones most recognized and respected for black cultural achievements (in this case, hip hop). There were many black secondary characters; actually, the majority of the non-main-characters were black. Nora's best friend is black, as is her best friend's romantic interest, as is Tyler's best friend.

Again, I can't tell if Nora was meant to be seen as Hispanic or as white. If it is as white, then there's the standard problem in which there's a very, very multi-cultural, multi-racial background, as shown in all the scenes (or a black background), but the main characters are still white. You have obvious POC as secondary characters, but not as the main characters. If she is meant to be read as Hispanic, I keep wondering why the other multi-racial dance movies I've seen (Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Save the Last Dance) perpetually have a mixed-race couple in which one of them is always white. It's particularly interesting because all three of these movies have a sort of integration of classic dance (be it ballroom or ballet) with a more "ethnic" dance, in which the hybrid gains mainstream acceptance. (I think... It's been a while since I've seen the other two.)

And the thing is, I'm sure there are all-black or all-POC dancing movies out there, but I haven't seen them because I subconsciously thought they were too black, the way I used to habitually pass over the African-American Literature section at Borders (their label, not mine).

So, no real conclusion from me, just musing.