Step Up Revolution – Alas, in the wrong direction!

The title „Step Up Revolution“ (german title: Step up – Miami Heat) is auspicious. The fourth part of the Step Up series tends to fight today`s turbo-capitalism by dance flash mobs. But they will be losing the fight and still believe that they won it. One has only to re-narrate the story to reveal the problem. Sean is the head of a dancing group and organizes flash mobs in public space. For example they paralize the traffic and dance in the street. They film the flash mobs and upload it on youtube to reach ten million hits to win a lot of money. The dancers are all members of the precarity of Miami working in expensive hotels for the new rich of the city. Mr. Anderson is a property shark with dollar signs in his eyes. He wants to buy the whole quarter of Sean and his friends to tear it down and built a new area for the beautiful people. To say it in one word: gentrification. Sean and the others will lose their home. Sean works as a waiter in one of Mr. Anderson`s hotels and by a fortunate coincidence he meets Mr. Anderson`s daughter Penelope.

It is an american dancefilm, therefore they fall in love. Penelope does not want to work in her father`s company she would like to become a professional dancer and for that she needs inspiritation to find a new form of dancing and to be able to accomplish the entrance test to the dance school. Sean does not tell his friends who she really is and so she starts to dance with the mob. At this time their dancing is more like performance art and Penelope is the one, who wants to make it protest art. That means they are becoming more political and try to change the mind of the alderman concerning the gentrification by creating flash mobs well-covered by the media. The problem is neither the new rich nor the alderman regard the actions as being political. Whether they dance in the museum of modern art or in the lobby of the city hall, they always get applause – except that Mr. Anderson is not amused – and many hits on youtube. But the protest remains without success.

As I said, it is an american dancefilm with a typically dramatic composition and so one day happens what has to happen. Sean`s friends figure out that Penelope is their their enemy`s daugther. My fascination for Hollywood films in general lies with those moments, where everything is possible. And my discontent with the Hollywood films in genereal is, that they rarely in these moments do the right step and almost always in the wrong direction. Here, it`s the same. The right step is a really radical action. Unkown to Sean and Penelope the mob goes to the hotel where Mr. Anderson and his friends celebrate themselves. The mob manipulates the tv-screens and shows Mr. Anderson`s daughter fighting her father together with the mob. They fire smoke-bombs and the rich society gets into a panic. Mr. Anderson and his friends are feeling for the first time the power of the oppressed. The mob is here de facto revolutionary because it goes beyond the pale: recalling and confirming the thesis of the Frankfurt School, that only an unsanctioned protest will be effective.

But the step goes into the wrong direction. The screenplay heralds the start of the catharsis. The mob feels guilty, „we stretch a point“ they say. And the film wants to tell us that a protest outside the system is evil. It follows the counterrevolution. The internet – some dreamers think it is a free space – puts the mob in its place. Youtube bans its channel, because they were all criminals. All conviction about turbo-capitalism put aside: the family is holy and Penelope solidarises with her father. Here you can understand why radical leftists regard the family as a very conservativ nucleus. And Sean, who is disappointed with his friends does not longer fight against gentrification, he fights only for his love: Penelope. After the usual to-ing and fro-ing Sean reconciles with the mob and they organize a huge dance action for the first stone laying of Mr. Andersons project to budge the alderman and maybe Mr. Anderson himself. When they start to dance the citizens are delighted and the mayor as well. They all dance together and when Sean and Penelope di their last dance, the capitalist Anderson shows his human face. But it proves him to be a man of business, because he sees much creativity in the mob and that could enhance the new quarter. Sean and his friends are allowed to stay as living marketing gags. As if that weren`t enough, they get an advertising contract with Nike. The mob is rescued, but what will happen to the other poor citizens of the quarter? Hard luck! The film reveals it, the Flash mobs and all the other modern actions for egocentric young people in the cities are what neoliberal capitalism needs today: Creativity, sex and fun. Protest can be profitable. The success of „Step Up Revolution“ discloses this.

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