Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Just Dance

Saturday Night Fever was an interesting movie. With songs like “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” “If I Can’t Have You,” “You Should Be Dancing,” and “K-Jee,” you can’t help but tap your toes, sway your shoulders, and bob your head. With such a boogie-ing tune as the background, you’d think that the movie would be about having a good time on the Disco floor. This is only a corner of the picture this movie is painting, though. As a slice of life, Saturday Night Fever follows Tony Manero as he prepares for a dancing contest. This movie does more than just dance; it takes the audience past the happy dancing floor and into the troubled lives of the dancers.

Overall, I actually didn’t find many things cool in this movie. I enjoyed watching it, but there was nothing I found worth emulating. First of all, Tony’s ability to dance, which made him top dog in the dance world, wasn’t all that impressive to me compared with the other dancers. He just had a few solos and was constantly told how well he could dance. Even at the end of the movie where his big dance hit should have come; he just slow danced around the floor. Tony was also a very needy person with no determination. He constantly needs his importance reaffirmed; he always wants people’s approval. When he is with his friends, Tony always reiterates that they “can’t do anything without him.” A great depiction of his quest for attention is during the second Pirates of the Caribbean, when Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Commodore Norrington are fighting over the chest containing Davy Jones’ heart. Elizabeth Swann is left to guard the chest, but she doesn’t want to; she doesn’t want to be left out. So, she starts shouting and throwing things at them, demanding that they stop fighting. When the men ignore her and continue to fight, she feigns fainting, hoping her shift back into “delicate lady” would get their attention. Tony tries to get the attention of the people outside of the dance floor, his family for example, and this usually happens with his shouting at them. When he doesn’t get the attention he wants, he goes back to what worked before; he returns to the dance floor. Nothing comes out of his actions.

What would have made Tony cool is if he had been determined to do something and not need all of the attention he demanded. If he had been like Jody Sawyer in Center Stage, a girl whose life revolves around dancing, he would have had that specified cool. Specified cool also give the character a new level of cool because it eliminates the character’s need for approval in some ways; the joy of dancing for Jody is what drives her on, not the praise of those around her. Tony just seems like a guy heading nowhere who likes the small spotlight on the dance floor, until the end. He finally sees that his dance paradise is a fake one, and that he is destined to go nowhere. We don’t see Tony as a success, but we are left hoping. We see him changed and starting down a cooler road.


  1. I disagree with the statement that Tony had no determination. I think that he was very determined to win the competition and put in alot of practice at the studio. His problem was that he never looked far enough into the future. He didn't work for anything beyond the competition.

  2. The need for affirmation of coolness is complex. A cool person can't ask for it, but needs it to be cool. So the question is always of just how to affirm coolness... Tony is just trying to do this in a way that is too obvious.