Yes, it is a fairytale kind of spectacle or anti-spectacle in a spectacle. Anti-spectacle in the sense of change of perspective towards gender, class, work and art. The spectacle we are used to seeing is how class, work, gender and art function and are thought to represent and be like. The American dream where beautiful young woman reaches out for her professional dream, a place in the sun and ends up getting more, a romantic relationship with a Man with a Porsche, who is also the owner of the factory where Alexandra, the woman in question, works at as a welder. One big plus of the movie is it does not highlight the work Alexandra does, welding is just work with men as co-workers. It makes the movie hugely more interesting though, and her the one who lives outside the box and is allowed to do so. She is not harassed by her co-workers. It is truly a beautiful setting.
To explore deeper into what the movie is all about is worth our while as it has been deeply overlooked as many romantic movies that are meant for women usually are. To pay attention to details, characters, camera shots, what is being looked at and told via tensions between women and men and why those tensions exist. What happens between the sexes, between women especially, what are sexes both expected to do, look and be like. Movie is a language as is dance as is sex, sexuality and gender. You have to focus on to read it and actually think what are we looking at, what happens there and why all the time. It is not just an entertaining show where you can relax and forget what is going on, this is told via contrasts between sleazy bars, working men and art, how women are treated in different settings and how these settings differ, how women want to be treated like and what do they desire of their lives. Movie is never just a movie that is meant to entertain not even those that are made for that purpose, nor is music or the dance acts that seem to be out of place. Point is easily missed when the romantic is what stays interesting and in the focus.
In a bar where ambitious fit and talented dancers show their art, act for paying customers who are watching and are a bit amazed by the unexpected show. Contrast is also to the other bar where dancing is not the primary interest of anyone, only nude female body, that moves in a certain way. Women are dancing for money but in a show-your-ass-kind of way, but they still want to be discovered and dream of making it. What are people watching and why, who gets attention? Watching happens for instant gratification, simplicity of getting pleasure cheap and for fun. A bar is a world of something else than the workplace and not a place of thought, burdening oneself. Customers of the bar are not the assumed ordinary art lovers, but that is the point. Why should people be provoked to think more than is necessary, why not give them what they want? To whom is art for and why is it a class issue? What is art and where is art, who is capable of art and why it is a special occasion? High and low seem to be repulsed by each other, classes stay separated like oil and water. The dance acts, art and artists, are really in the right place. Intention of the movie is not to depict a straightforward story in a manner of this is what happens: this is what we dream of happening to us. It is not a children’s story and it is not pink. It seems light, but is more heavy when one starts exploring. That is the expectations and frame women are supposed to fit in, want, act upon and are shown in the movie, that those who dare, can change the game. There is interesting social critique hidden there to be found. To say Flashdance is a feminist movie is not quite what a true movie lover might expect. What do you think about the turn, that a seemingly light Hollywood movie is feminist in a very kick-ass way and about the structural difficult issue of choosing how to get ahead in life, on one’s own terms and talent, and not sleeping with the boss or buddy who has connections. What do you think about when after having seen and evaluated for example the scene where Alexandra goes and finds her friend who has gone to work as a stripper, moving herself in conventional stripper manner she is grabbed off the stage by Alexandra. In the scene Alexandra’s clothing and standing position compared to her friend tell a lot when friend the stripper ends up in a puddle on street wearing only panties and high heels and is cold. Money she earned gets wet in the rain on the pavement. Alexandra’s loose pants and sneakers when she stands firmly behind the naked woman who has fallen down and sold her body for money to please men may seem easy and naive, but it is something very basic. A woman on the ground beaten down feeling there is no other opportunity for her.
After having read couple of critiques about the movie and clearly many have missed the point: When one is an art critic it is essential to see behind the image and be free of bias. What is the seen image telling us, what happens without words, what is the setting and who are the characters, what do they do. Do you need more clues, because explaining has to be done also in a very basic manner, obviously also for critics. When you are an art critic, don’t fall for the simple clichés. Such poor analysis destroys a lot, as does arrogance and cynicism. Minimising culture that is aimed at and is about women and girls is a normal practice. It is a learned reaction which comes without thinking. A black woman eating a banana in a scene where women talk about relationships, well sounds as cliché as anything, but it happens in couple of seconds, and is easily missed, but telling. To make it as you with your raw capabilities, without handouts and favours..