On Jan. 19, Netflix is going to set Twitter afire with the release of its original film Step Sisters. I remember when Drumline: A New Beat (effectively Drumline 2) came out on VH1 (and was terrible), black folks had a field day tearing it to shreds. But this shit right here? This shit right here, my nigga? I almost feel like I need to stretch, smoke a cigarette and drink some yak with Shannon Sharpe before I open up Twitter when this movie releases, and I only do one of the three aforementioned things ever (spoiler alert: It’s drink yak minus Shannon Sharpe).
Let’s break down the premise, based on the just-released trailer (above): White chicks need saving. Black woman gets extorted, ends up saving white chicks with art. It’s like reverse Freedom Writers, minus the extortion plotline. That’s the short version. Here’s the long version (from IMDb):
Jamilah has her whole life figured out. She’s the president of her black sorority, captain of their champion step dance crew, is student liaison to the college dean, and her next move is on to Harvard Law School. She’s got it all, right? But when the hard-partying white girls from Sigma Beta Beta embarrass the school, Jamilah is ordered to come to the rescue. Her mission is to not only teach the rhythmically-challenged girls how to step dance, but to win the Steptacular, the most competitive of dance competitions. With the SBB’s reputations and charter on the line, and Jamilah’s dream of attending Harvard in jeopardy, these outcast screw-ups and their unlikely teacher stumble through one hilarious misstep after another. Cultures clash, romance blossoms, and sisterhood prevails as everyone steps out of their comfort zones.
It’s pretty much the prequel to this Washington Post story about the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Let me be clear: I’m going to watch this. Some may decide it’s not their ministry. I’m not one of them; I’m going to church. I watch enough terribly produced movies to grant myself some grace here and watch a well-produced potential train wreck. So if you refuse to watch, that’s cool, I got you. With that being said and based on the trailer alone, here are 10 reasons I plan to watch Step Sisters on Jan. 19:
1. Because it exists.
If you have a bad movie featuring black people, I will watch it. I’m not even embarrassed by my Netflix “Popular on Netflix” list or Amazon Prime-recommended movies anymore. I only wish they’d suggest shit that had better production value. Point is, if it exists and there are black people, there’s a better than 99 percent chance that I will press play. It turns out that there’s a thin line between supporting black folks and masochism at times, and the black cinematic arts sometimes prove this to be true, but that has yet to slow my black-movie roll.
2. It looks like a mix between Stomp the Yard, Pitch Perfect, Bring It On and Save the Last Dance.
I love Pitch Perfect. I love Stomp the Yard. I went to the actual movie theater to see Bring It On in Atlanta as an HBCU college student and enjoyed it tremendously. Save the Last Dance is not without its charm, though it’s pretty much a Magical Negro(es) movie as a bunch of streetwise black kids help influence a white woman’s dancing, getting her into Juilliard. Bagger Vance would be so proud. Point is, I like enough of those movies to watch a Girl Talk-style movie version of them all, even knowing the product is problematic.
3. I like to know what I’m mad at and make sure I’m mad about the right shit.
We know that this movie is going to be all types of problematic. I don’t care how many black people are associated with the making of this movie; creating art that ’pacifically encourages and shows how cultural appropriation is borne and how we give away our art is some malarkey. So I need to watch it JUST to make sure I’m mad about all of the appropriate things. Though I seriously doubt that white America is going to watch this in droves, so stepping might be mostly safe. Might be.
4. It looks like there will be high comedy.
It’s a movie that focuses on white people trying to rhythmically move with and without music. I don’t care who you are, that’s funny.
5. It also looks wildly entertaining.
I get it! Appropriation. I know. Purge me, my sweet brotha Numpsy. And yet, the trailer is intriguing. Again, Pitch Perfect meets Save the Last Dance. Pitch Perfect is one of the best unintentionally awesome movies ever. I’m not missing another one of those.
6. For the culture.
Somebody has to take the L, since I imagine lots of people will boycott (maybe “boycott” is too strong a word; perhaps “ignore with purpose”?). Of course, lots of people are “boycotting” the NFL, too, except in Philadelphia, where I imagine “unless the Eagles have a good season” is in the fine print on the “Boycott the NFL” memo circulating around African America.
7. The setting is the Atlanta University Center’s Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University.
I saw Graves Hall (Morehouse’s most important building) in the trailer and smiled much like I do with any movie that features Morehouse’s campus, like Hidden Figures, Stomp the Yard, Drumline, etc.
8. I’ve rather enjoyed every single thing Naturi Naughton has been a part of ... that I’ve seen.
3LW (OK, that’s a reach), Notorious, Power. Even Lottery Ticket. Maybe I’ll enjoy her in this, too.
9. The black leads all seem to be too old to play college students, and yet here we are. The white people all had to be ... younger.
I typically enjoy watching living proof that black don’t crack. It’s a form of #BlackExcellence.
10. I have a running list of Magical Negroes, and I like to stay current.
Bagger Vance. John Coffey. Morgan Freeman. Olivia Pope. Morpheus. Anthony Mackie’s character in The Adjustment Bureau. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Barack Obama. All the black kids in Save the Last Dance. The movie version of Michael Oher in The Blindside, which doubles also as the greatest white-savior movie of all time—a Magical Negro-white-savior-Remember the Titans-esque trifecta of feel-good shit. Cam Newton, because his haberdashery is the stuff of Magical Negro legend. As you can see, the list grows, and the characters of Step Sisters look primed to be in that number.