The Clothes In Criticism ‘But I’m A Cheerleader’ The Ridiculousness Of Gender Norms

The Clothes In Criticism 'But I'm A Cheerleader' The Ridiculousness Of Gender Norms

Natasha Lyonne in Jamie Babbit’s But I’m a Cheerleader as Megan, a young lesbian sent to a conversion therapy camp where she falls in with a strange cast of characters and finds love with a cool, tough girl. The 1999 comedy is a delightfully subversive take on homophobia and ridiculously rigid gender roles that still feels all too relevant more than 20 years after its release. Rather than portray the depressing world of conversion therapy in drab colors, Babbit takes the novel approach of making the camp positively lurid, with every inch of the screen covered in candy-colored pastels that intentionally give the setting a healthy dose of absurdity. The film’s clever humor, charismatic stars, and gloriously kitsch costumes have made it a queer cult classic.

The film opens with shots of cheerleaders energetically jumping in front of a bright blue sky while clad in white and orange sports bras and pleated skirts. These images, which could be objective in other contexts, are meant to convey Megan’s queer desire. She may wear the cheerleader uniform herself, but to see the rest of the team move effortlessly in the same outfit as her makes everything seem more exciting.

The cheerleader is not presented here as a fetish for leering men, but rather as a strong symbol of being so close but so far when it comes to the object of his affection. It’s no surprise, then, when Megan brings her pom-poms with her to True Directions, the sinister conversion camp run by Mary Brown (played by Cathy Moriarity) where most of But I takes place I’m a Cheerleader.

Before arriving at True Directions, Megan wears retro earth tone dresses. Once at the camp, she and her friends are forced to wear clothes that are obviously designed to enforce gender expectations — the boys are given a wardrobe of blue clothes, while the girls wear pink. Every element of True Directions is a perverse visual joke. Decorated in a style reminiscent of a John Waters-directed Art of Barbie Dreamhouse, True Directions humorously illustrates the inherent idiocy of conversion therapy by portraying it as a world of gay over-the-topness. (One of the workers there, an “ex-gay” named Mike, is played by RuPaul in a rare out-of-race appearance, in case the irony wasn’t already obvious enough.)

The colors of True Directions are so sweet they are almost sickening, and the oppressive yet campy aesthetic provides the backdrop for Megan’s rebellion. She soon catches the eye of Graham (Clea DuVall), and the relationship between the two girls blossoms as they wear matching pink button-ups and cardigans. In the camp, they are forced to perform clichés of female work by scrubbing the floor and changing baby dolls together.

Graham has a devil-may-care vibe that no amount of heteronormative costuming can contain. The more Megan and Graham fall for each other, the more ridiculous the clothes start to look. There are empire-waist pink gowns that wouldn’t look out of place in a suburban 60s housewife’s boudoir and bright fuchsia dresses reminiscent of awkward proms. Meanwhile, the guys wear blue schoolboy style short sleeve button downs with blue ties, and switch to blue mesh tops for athletics. By the end of the film, the fundamental failure of the conversion camp becomes even more explicit, thanks to their increasingly desperate attempts to costume the characters for a right.

It turns out latex tuxedos and faux nude bodysuits complete with fig leaf embellishments do absolutely nothing to convert gay teens to straight ones, and may actually make them even gayer. Unlike many queer films, But I’m a Cheerleader has a happy ending. Megan ultimately escapes from True Directions and returns to save Graham, wearing her cheerleader uniform from the beginning of the movie and doing a cute cheer to express her love. Then they run together, and in the end they can wear whatever they want, not necessarily pink.

Megan (Natasha Lyonne) considers herself a typical American girl. She excels in school and cheerleading, and has a handsome boyfriend who plays football, although she’s not that crazy about him.

Is Jan from but im a cheerleader straight?

Is Jan from but im a cheerleader straight?

The character Jan has one of the most interesting storylines in But I’m A Cheerleader. See the article : Eagles acquired DB Ugo Amadi in trade from Seahawks. Jan is clearly coded as a transgender man rather than a lesbian woman, as the character’s monologue about not being like the rest of the camp participants and the character design suggests.

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