Issue of Different Cultures in ‘Save the Last Dance’ Essay Example
Issue of Different Cultures in ‘Save the Last Dance’ Essay Example

Issue of Different Cultures in ‘Save the Last Dance’ Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 6 (1420 words)
  • Published: February 9, 2022
View Entire Sample
Text preview

Understanding and accepting diversity especially within Canada has remained one of the leading issues emphasized by various scholars. To the scholars that support diversity, they attribute it as a positive element that adds value to the society as opposed to the negative stereotypes associated with diversity. Canada has for long experienced challenges as the community comprises of individuals drawn from diverse cultures most notable the Aboriginal tribes and the immigrants. In the book ‘Walk a Mile,’ the authors combine both cognitive as well as effective dimensions of studying diversity while equally providing support for the importance of diversity (Anzovino and Boutilier, 2015). The American film ‘Save the Last Dance’ equally serves in portraying that diversity is not a means of separating people, but rather something that the society needs to recognize


and appreciate.

The film ‘Save the Last Dance’ revolves around the lives of two teenagers, Sara Johnson and Derek drawn from two different cultures of the white dominant and the black minority respectively. The audience learns about the life of Sara Johnson as a white Midwestern girl that spent her entire life while engaging in training driven by the intention of attaining a career in ballet. However, things change dramatically as her mother is involved in a car accident that culminates to her death in a day that Sara was engaged in an unsuccessful audition for Julliard prompting her to give up her lifetime dream (Carter, 2001).

Consequently, Sara then faces one of the most challenging life changes in her life as she is forced to live with his father in Chicago ghetto despite the two not seeing each other for long. Upon settling in her new neighbourhood

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

Sara is transferred to a black high school that has only a few other white girls. After befriending Chenille, a teenage mother with an intelligent brother Derek, the life of Sara takes a turn for the better as Derek later becomes her boyfriend. However, the love of the two is not without challenges as the two come from different cultures. Although Derek helps Sara in reviving her interest in ballet, Sara has to deal with Nikki, former girlfriend of Derek as Derek has to make a choice between Sara and the thug life. Eventually, the two triumphs over the challenges they encounter as a result of culture and other limitations and end up as a couple.

There are a variety of key issues that the director of the film ‘Save the Last Dance’ uses in supporting the importance of diversity within society. Firstly, the director signifies that love transpires over cultural boundaries. Although Sara and Derek come from two diverse cultures of the white and black, they overcome all the cultural barriers and end up together. Derek gets discouragement from his close family members and friends about his relationship with Sara. Even his sister Chenille warns him about the relationship with Sara.

At one point, Chenille warns Sara about the relationship with Derek. Other than only facing prejudice in a black dominated society, Sara has to contend with the existing hatred of whites in the Chicago ghetto and even a fight with former Derek’s girlfriend (Carter, 2001). People from the different cultures does everything possible to ensure that the two separate leading to an argument that almost breaks the relationship in the closing stages until Derek abandons his

crime mission to join Sara on her auditions. Another notable point that stands in the film relates to the manner diversity within the society leads to benefits for all. While other members of the society are reluctant to interact with their counterparts from the opposite culture, the relationship between Sara and Derek yields significant benefits.

Firstly, Derek, a gifted individual in hip-hop teaches Sara how to dance and later helps her in rejuvenating her interests in a career in ballet where she eventually succeeds in her audition for Julliard in the closing stages of the of the film (Carter, 2001). Sara on the other hand has positive effect on the life of Derek in that the relationship helps him to transform from his previous gagster life in order to observe the commitment and love he has for Sara. At the closing stages as Sara sets to go for her second audition for Julliard, Derek is faced with a choice of joining Sara for her audition or joining his friend Malaki to a gang battle. Eventually, Derek decides to join Sara with the friend that goes with Malaki being shot signifying that the decision by Derek to join Sara helps in saving is life.

It is possible to draw some parallels between the two major key issues emphasized by the film Save the Last Dance’ with the lessons learned in the book ‘Walk a Mile: Experiencing and Understanding Diversity in Canada.’ The issue of love and its ability to surpass cultural boundaries relates to the lessons in the book where the authors emphasize on the goal of diversity-competent practitioner that is tasked with a role of becoming an agent

for social change that unlocks the possible by engaging in social inclusion (Anzovino and Boutilier, 2015).

Sara and Derek fall as the perfect types of diversity-competent practitioners in that they change possible things by understanding and including each other socially. Prior to the interaction and consequent relationship between the two teens, the communities in Chicago ghetto were only sensitive on issues that affected members from their respective communities. However, Sara and Derek broke that cultural barrier and realized significant benefits as a result of social inclusion.

On the second key point raised in the film ‘Save the Last Dance,’ the producers tend to teach the audience that recognition and acceptance of diversity presents significant benefits for the overall society. As the book signifies in the self-reflective framework where the authors figuratively as well as emphatically requires everyone to walk a mile in the shoes of those from the other cultures, it signifies the mutual benefits that communities draw from interacting with each other. Through a deep understanding of the other cultures, it becomes easier to share and benefit for both communities. As such, it is indicative that cultural diversity is a positive as opposed to a negative aspect.

Based on my personal thoughts as well as beliefs, it is without doubt that the producer of the film ‘Save the Last Dance’ does a good job in getting his point across to the audience. Right from the introductory part of the film, the audience easily identifies with Sara and her culture from the white dominant society. Upon introduction to the neighbourhood in Chicago ghetto, the audience understands the change of context and consequent cultural setting within the area. The high

school that Sara joins has only a small population of white girls informing the audience about the ethical composition of the new environment.

Furthermore, the mode of interaction between the different cultures in California ghetto helps the audience to understand the racial tensions and disjoin that exist between the different races. In signifying the importance of diversity, the director uses the relationship between the two teens that cuts across the cultural barriers and eventually succeeds. However, their relationship is not without challenges as they encounter significant hindrances mostly drawn from their racial affiliations. That fact that the two benefits from the mutual interaction serves as significant indicator of the level of success achieved by the audience in his effort to support the importance of accepting recognizing diversity as a positive aspect of society. From the point of view and the message of the director, without recognizing and accepting diversity, no single culture or race has the ability of achieving ultimate success.

While I perceive the film ‘Save the Last Dance’ as a perfect example that depicts the importance of recognizing and accepting diversity within society based on the positive results that the main protagonists achieve, I see some negative aspects from the film. Although the audience may fail to capture the significance of the details due to overall success, the director uses some negative stereotypes to the blacks. The black men in the film are stereotyped by the director as predisposed to criminal activity as well as violence with black women on the other hand stereotyped as manipulative, jealous and in most instances burdened by teenage pregnancy (Carter, 2001). On the other hand, the film portrays Whiteness with

ambition, education as well as success.


  1. Anzovino, T., & Boutilier, D. (2015). Walk a mile: Experiencing and understanding diversity in Canada.
  2. Carter, T. (Director). (2001). Save the Last Dance Motion picture. U.S.A.
Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds