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ipso's avatar

What is a good technical term for someone who is floppy-indignant towards “dance scenes” in movies?

Asked by ipso (4476points) June 17th, 2010

I have… ah, a friend, who thinks dance scenes are cheesy, contrived, and just so overwhelmingly ridiculous that he wants to understand better what this phobia might be properly called.

The technical idea is a severe breach of “aesthetic distance”.

The only “great” dance scenes my friend acknowledges are these:

- Reality Bites (1994) – stoned girls are great
– an unknown Japanese movie with a Geisha dancing – thought Kaidan, but not – TBD
Chaplin shoe dance – well before it all went wrong
The Holy Mountain (1932) – another pre-talkie
Reservoir Dogs – the only anti-dance scene I know of.

And for contrast, THE quintessential bad example

Note: Originally movie audiences did not understand non-diegetic sound. They had to have people dancing to relate to music in the scene, otherwise viewers would think “where did that come from?”. Now the movie language has evolved. I think My friend thinks that dance scenes are a throwback, and should be discarded.

What are some more good examples that might turn the tide? or bad examples!

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13 Answers

Jack79's avatar

Yeah but I love that Bob Seger song, so it was worth the cheesy scene.

But I know what you mean.

Nullo's avatar

A dance scene for the sake of having a dance scene is one dance scene too many, IMO.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I agree with your friend. For the same reasons I’m not an opera fan.

andrew's avatar

Musicals don’t count since you’re looking for diagetic sound, right? Here’s an interesting meta-commentary about the perfection of synchronized dance sequences. Either that or Edward Norton really can’t dance.

Arisztid's avatar

I am generally ambivalent to annoyed by dance scenes but the Uma Therman/ John Travolta dance scene from Pulp Fiction is one I really like. If you have not seen the movie you do not know how the scene came to take place or how it leads into the next scene.

Of course the fantastic music did not hurt.

Offhand I cannot think of anything about that movie I do not think is great. It is due for a rewatching tonight.

CMaz's avatar

Don’t need to go any further then Gene Kelly.

good morning
Gotta dance
and this

janbb's avatar

Dirty Dancing pretty much needed the great dance scenes.

ipso's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land – OMG: “opera”. I can’t believe you went there. Something seriously must be wrong with me. I cannot tell you how bad I hurt when I see opera. Occasionally it’s so bad it’s funny though.

I’m reminded of the scene in Donnie Darko of the Chinese girl dancing in white, and the cut to Drew Barrymore in the wings, inadvertently wincing in sympathetic dread.

@andrewthat is so cool. You showed me how to bookmark YouTube links with a start time! ^ I’ve always wanted to do that. And that is a “keeper” example of dance badness! although I think even better (worst) from the start And no – I hate musicals too. Especially musicals. The only exception (which almost made the list ^^) is the first That’s Entertainment (1974), which has a documentary distance. Otherwise categorically musicals do not cut the mustard.

@ChazMaz – The second example (gotta dance) is actually OK, because you can see Gene Kelly is athletic and just really good. That approaches acceptable art for me. But your fist example (good morning) is a master example of badness. Perfect!

The notion of someone turning to the audience with a big fat huge cheesy smile. That image. That fake, hokey, contrived, slightly scared, plastic happiness. That’s the killer.

I don’t do plays well either, with the big voices and overly dramatic body language.

There has to be a term to describe this succinctly. “Overly sensitive to aesthetically distance”, OSAD? Certainly the French have a term for it: Coup d’dance? Dance la terrible? Pas de deux?

Sex scenes are the same. They just never work for me in the context of a movie. You’re instantly thinking – “Those are actors acting – how uncomfortable that must be for them.” Or seeing “555” in a telephone number. Or seeing someone not actually playing the piano. Or having a light under the dash in a car at night so you can see their faces.

All these things destroy the aesthetic distance of a viewer and wreck the suspension of disbelief.

Unintentional Verfremdungseffekt?

Distance sensitive?

It’s kind of like a blowjob.

At the county fair there is a game. You take a water pistol and try to hit this little hole in a plate from about 5 feet. And if you do, it fills up a water balloon. Of the 8 people or so next to you trying the same, the first who fills it all the way up and breaks the balloon wins the prize. BUT, if you waver, and miss the hole by a fraction, all the water instantly rushes out and you start from scratch.

That’s like accidentally using your teeth while receiving a blowjob. “Whoops. Let’s start again honey.”

The dance scene is like using your teeth.

fundevogel's avatar

I personally love dance fights, there is no better way to prove you’re the cock of the walk than fancy footwork. The only movie I can think of off the top of my head with a good dance fight is West Side Story, though this seems pretty darn close to the original.

Obviously I’m not overly concerned with realism though.

ipso's avatar

My friend has studied judo for decades. Even went to Japan for it.

He thinks the “dance scene” is the most idiotic possible representation of human interaction, and the fighting dance scene the worst of the worst examples.

We’re still looking for a proper term for my friend’s phobia.

fundevogel's avatar

There may be no term because it isn’t a proper phobia. Does he have and irrational fear of dance scenes or just get passionately irritated by them? This may simply be a glorified pet peeve.

ipso's avatar

“Glorified pet peeve” is a solid working term. You may have just won the prize.

Unfortunately there are only two examples of that via Google at this time. One about government docs not being shared, and another about a riffle gut-shot to take down a deer.

The former reminds me of script writer’s inability to communicate properly, and the latter the image of me writhing in pain on the couch, bobbling desperate for the FF button. Perfect!

fundevogel's avatar

In that case, glad to be of service.

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