Step Up 2 the Streets

You should only see dance movies for the dancing. But I think it’s also worthwhile to pay attention to who’s being cast where, as far as Asian, black, white, Latino go. Who gets which role, who is good, who is evil, who’s cool, who’s the loser, who’s the center of attention. Who are you supposed to be most interested in, who are you supposed to care the most about? Especially since this film happens to be directed by an Asian American – Jon Chu, 29, USC graduate. You can only assume that he had some say in the casting – and I’d have to say he made some mistakes.

The most prominent Asian character is Jenny Kido, played by Mari Koda. She has the most lines and screen time, anyway. Every single one of her lines is the same joke – she’s an immigrant and she doesn’t know what’s going on. But she can be part of the dance crew. I guess that part is okay. Overall, I didn’t like this character. The audience in the theater where I watched it was mostly black, and they laughed heartily in support every time this character appeared. I think they were just trying to have the reaction they thought they were supposed to have. She’s not such a funny character.

There’s another Asian in the movie, who I actually thought was Latino. Sophie, played by Cassie Ventura, is Filipino and Mexican/West Indian. Actually, her ethnic background isn’t a part of the plot. But I remember thinking, when I watched it, that Sophie, the ex-girlfriend, should have switched parts with the main character, this boring white girl. I didn’t want the main character, Andie, to win. From the beginning, I didn’t believe anything she said, didn’t care, felt tired of seeing yet another story about her. She had a hot body, but that was probably a stunt double most of the time. She was the uncoolest person there, no matter what the camera said, no matter what lights they shone in her eyes.

The premise by which she was even included in the story was so contrived. She is from Texas but her mother passed away and now her mother’s black friend in Baltimore is taking care of her – and always handing out these empty threats of sending her back to Texas, if she doesn’t show up at school and stop hanging out with this street dance crew.

The neighborhood is some minuscule percentage white, and this is the person they write the story about. It’s like the New York City public school where I’m subbing right now, which is 46% black, 41% Latino, and 7% white, 6% Asian. It’d be as if we were to make a movie about the school, and for some reason chose the drama of the white girl. There’s 13,234 black dramas you could pick, and it’s No, let’s do her story. The white person should be one of the supporting characters in the margin. But the whole story is rewritten and bent over backwards to put her in the center once again. It’s so obnoxious.

But yeah, the dancing was cool. Especially the subway scene at the beginning – just because there are actually kids who do that on the subway.

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About Lily Huang

Lily Huang is a writer of Taiwanese descent, who lives on the East coast. She grew up in suburbia completely oblivious to Asian culture, and is making up for it now.
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