Imitation is the sincerest form of Hollywood, and the most enduring legacy of Flashdance may be the mini-genre of MTV-flavored dance movies that it inspired. First up was Footloose (1984), another set of music video-like set pieces strung together by an underdog-makes-good plot, and Dirty Dancing (1987), another movie about a girl who blossoms into an empowered woman on the dance floor. The genre sagged during the ’90s, but it picked up again with Save the Last Dance (2001), which solidified the genre’s conventions – street-inspired dancing, forbidden romance, and fiercely determined women.
The last decade has seen a virtual explosion of such movies, many of them produced or heavily promoted by MTV, including You Got Served, How She Move, and the Step Up (pictured) series that introduced moviegoers to hunk-of-the-moment Channing Tatum. Here was a real-life male variant on the Flashdance narrative, an actor who’d started out as a dancer in strip clubs but then sweated his way to legit mainstream fame. His semi-autobiographical retelling of that journey in last year’s hit Magic Mike showed just how far we’ve all traveled since Flashdance. Today, any rising star can be Alex Owens, and without shame.