The revolution belongs to Nike

Just watched Step Up Revolution. Don’t ask. It’s clearly not aimed at 40-something-year-old women. But I have to say, it started out pretty interesting. You can read the synopsis here. (And I got the photo here.)

Interesting because of the way revolution is conceptualised. Interesting for me because my obsession now is looking for the political in youth culture. And this movie was, at least in the beginning, about the potential for the political being tapped on and turned into action through a cause. Art and media technologies are mobilized for political action, even in the embryonic stage.

But then, as I see it, the revolution fails. Yes I know. What was I expecting in a Hollywood movie? It was just disconcerting to actually watch as revolution became reconceptualised as compromise. What could be (and indeed has been) seen as potentially political – YouTube, crowd sourcing, flash mobs, disenfranchised youths – ultimately becomes translated into lying back and thinking of Nike. And I mean that literally, because at the end of the movie, the erstwhile revolutionaries assume they have been victorious when

(a) the big capitalist developer offers a compromise – he will find a way to rebuild the neighborhood without displacing its residents. How he will do this is never mentioned. Of course not. Because profit and preservation are motives that are fundamentally in opposition.
(b) a marketing company offers the dancers a job based on an advertising campaign for…wait for it… Nike!

These compromises form the high note on which the movie ends. I’m leaving out the Romeo-and-Juliet subplot which shows up at the end as a forgettable duet. But you know, Hollywood. So whatever.

If everyone wins, no one wins. Compromise seems like a cop out, and a waste of all that powerful dancing and youthful anger. What would I have preferred seeing? I don’t know. I just feel like the movie opened up some possibilities and stopped short of seeing where they could go.


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