You can trace conversion therapy back to the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, but Christianity has been attempting to repress ‘wicked’ feelings and thoughts for centuries. Whilst the horrendous practice has been overwhelmingly disavowed by the medical profession, the rise of popularism and right-wing politics means it’s having a resurgence is places like America. The total stupidity and ridiculousness of this kind of treatment provides the basis for But I’m a Cheerleader.
On the face of it, Megan Bloomfield (Natasha Lyonne) seems to be the perfect all-American girl. The cheerleader is popular in school and is going steady with a jock. Unfortunately, she happens to like girls, even if she doesn’t know it yet. Her friends and family perform an intervention and Megan’s sent to a rehabilitation camp run by the puritanical Mary (Cathy Moriarty). That’s where she meets Graham (Clea DuVall) and things don’t go quite to plan.
But I’m a Cheerleader is a bright and colourful satire with a jagged edge. Jamie Babbit uses her experiences of drink and drug rehabilitation programmes and transplants those twelve steps into the realms of sexuality. It’s good-natured fun but there’s always a biting social commentary lingering just below the surface. Not everything comes off, but its sheer inventiveness and vibrancy is hard not to like. Delving into many of the stereotypes of 1950s America, But I’m a Cheerleader is an entertaining and cutting parody.
- But I’m a Cheerleader Class Reunion
- Making But I’m a Cheerleader…in 1999
- But I’m a Composer… A chat with Pat Irwin
- Student Film: Discharge
- Audio commentary with director Jamie Babbit, costume designer Alix Friedberg and production designer Rachel Kamerman
But I’m a Cheerleader – Director’s Cut is released on Blu-ray by Lionsgate UK on 21 June.