C Me Dance
Film review by: Witney Seibold
I will start with a succinct line of dialogue from the TV series “King of the Hill” that pretty much sums up my own feelings on Christian rock: “You’re not making Christianity better, you’re making rock ‘n’ roll worse.”
There is a sub-genre of entertainment out there, one that can be found across all media, that most mainstream audiences do not see, and yet makes billions every year. No, I’m not referring to pornography, but its strange mutant opposite; the Christian Inspiration story. There are hundreds of films, TV specials, and records produced every year that deal with clean, wholesome people living in relative comfort, who, through some small personal struggle, either discover the glories of Jesus, or who are brought back to their flagging faith. These films are very rarely stirring dramas of real people. They are clean, sanitized, pabulum melodramas with no tension, only small conflicts, and no small amount of treacly outright preaching. If the heroes die, it’s in a bittersweet fashion, knowledge of heaven always lingering on the sidelines.
I am a Christian myself, and a churchgoer, but the Christianity I see in these movies is a completely bizarro version of Christianity that I’m not familiar with. It’s like a combination of Pentecostal fire, Jehovah’s witnessing, Mormon vicelessness, and a level of Sirkian melodrama that is confused for reality. Read some Jack Chick comics to get the full effect.
The films are invariably bland, featuring, as I said, no real tension, and no characters that can be compared to humans. Rather than face the real-life pain of the real-life world head-on (dealing with death, loss, disease), and come to terms with the darkness living in front of them, the characters in Christian Inspiration dramas merely wring their hands, tut-tut a bit, and point out that true joy can only be had in prayer and attending their church.
I have seen a few of these films in the past, but none reach the mindblowing weirdness of Greg Robbins‘ “C Me Dance,” which takes the usual CI tropes, and mixes in some psychic superpowers. This is a film that starts out as a typical CI film, and almost teeters into a weird, ultra-clean psychological superhero thriller. The combination is… well, it comes close to wacky.
Sheri (Christina DeMarco) is a “typical” teenage girl, i.e. She is seen doing typical teenage things: going to the mall, checking out hot boys, chatting with friends, and incessantly attending dance class. Sheri’s mother is dead, and she lives with with her father Vince (Robbins), who looks like a Pillsbury Dough-Jeff Bridges. The acting in this film is never more than merely competent, so we don’t get a rich sense of these people’s inner lives; when they state aloud how they’re feeling (which they do a lot), we kind of have to take their word for it.
Sheri has been having weird spells of lightheadedness, and a trip to the doctor reveals that she has leukemia. Sheri is predictably bitter, and her father is predictably saddened. He shows concern, but Sheri wants nothing more than to dance in the upcoming dance recital, and try to forget about the nearness of death.
Very soon, Sheri begins having the same dreams as her father, and interprets them that she has been given cancer by God as an impetus to convert others. Indeed, we soon see that Sheri, when she touches someone on the hand, can instantly convert them to Christianity. News of her powers spreads through the local community, and it’s not long before she’s asked onto TV to use her powers for the world at large. Questions of free will are not addressed, nor do we see her converting Jews or Muslims. She just sort of broadcasts her Christian goodwill to a vaguely secular populace.
This seems like the ideal power fantasy for people who Witness. Why do all the footwork and arguing with people, when you can just touch them and get the job done?
The devil (Peter Kent), dressed in a long leather coat and sporting a Marine-style haircut, begins to appear to Sheri to… uh… tempt her, I guess? The devil doesn’t really do much more than stand about and be creepy, and say creepy things. Perhaps Satan is there just to remind her that she still has fears, despite her new found superpowers.
And that’s pretty much it. There are no conflicts. There is nothing to be overcome. A girl is given a version of leukemia that gives her superconversion powers. The “C” in the title stands for Cancer.
As an inspiring story for Christians, I’m not sure of “C Me Dance” would work. It’s a little too weird, a little too mystical, a little too supernatural to work. I still wonder why Christian Inspiration has to involve such a bland, toothless version of the world; can the message not be made in a more relatable environment?
As an oddity for the rest of the secular world, this may work as a delightfully strange, overpowering WTF. I can easily see large groups of young people – preferably Jews , lapsed Catholics, and hipster atheists – gathering, drinking, and having a grand old time with “C Me Dance.” It will elicit delighted guffaws of incredulity. It did with me.