Step Sisters: Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Appreciation?
Charles Stone III, director of popular films Drumline and Paid in Full has once again resurfaced with his newest production Step Sisters. Some would think that with Stone’s impeccable work on previous productions, Step Sisters would be no different. But, since the film was released via Netflix, reactions to the film have been less than up to par.
The film features Megalyn Echikunwoke portraying the sassy Jamilah Bishop. Echikunwoke’s character seems to have everything figured out for herself. But, she is suddenly thrown a curve ball when she is asked to coach the wild party girls of the White rival sorority Sigma Beta Beta for the “Steptacular” step show. In return for a recommendation for Harvard Law School and without telling her own sorority, Theta Chi Phi, Jamilah takes on the challenge to teach the ladies of SBB not only how to step but also what the word sisterhood truly means.
According to multiple movie reviewers such as Rotten Tomatoes, the film has received a rather low rating of 29%. After the film had been announced and the trailer for the film had been released, much controversy was brought up to the surface. Most viewers were expecting the film to be similar to the Netflix film Burning Sands, but were merely disappointed when their expectations were not met. However, it did raise a huge concern over what some are calling cultural appropriation. Considering that the art of stepping was created off the backbone of Black fraternities and Sororities, audiences were skeptical of the idea of a member of a Black sorority teaching a White sorority one of their most sacred traditions.
Although the film had many comedic aspects throughout the movie, I felt that the movie really showed the value of being part of a real sisterhood, no matter what your skin color may be. But, I also felt that since the film is based on the Black Greek culture it would only make sense to get some perspective of the movie from a real Back Greek member. After watching the film I took it upon myself to ask real members of a Black Greek organization what their thoughts about the film were. From the responses I received it would seem that majority felt as if the film did not explain nor teach the history of stepping. Some also felt that a member of a black Greek organization should never be forced to teach a tradition that was originally theirs from the start.
All in all, the film was very comedic and at the end of the day had a great lesson behind it. Now get to steppin and go check out Step Sisters on Netflix now.