Back in August, I saw some cute sapphic art on twitter, and through the replies found out it was fanart of a movie I hadn't heard of before -- called "But I'm a Cheerleader."
I didn't save the art, I wish I did. I'd like to thank the person for unintentionally leading me to watching the movie.
Please keep in mind I'm discussing a R Rated movie in this blog post. If that's not your thing, no worries! I'm sure my next one will be about something else.
When I first looked it up, I instantly remembered seeing it on the shelves of Blockbuster as a kid.
It was on the south side of the store, the area to the right of it was the "video game section" (that the location later removed). I remember also seeing "Thank You for Smoking" on that wall around the same time.
Regardless, I remembered the cover because there was something mesmerizing about the trail of motion... (is that what it's supposed to be?) around Megan's head. Something about younger me liked it enough to have it stick in my brain -- so when I refound it through this gay art I HAD to watch it.
Lucky for me it's free on youtube? Go watch it now it's the most accessible thing ever, holy fuck!
When I watched the movie, I had such a good time.
Typically I'm very lazy when it comes to watching things alone, I love watching things with another person -- it's one of my favorite things to do, period. Unfortunately I don't have many friends (or an s/o) who watch things with me often. Because of that, I don't watch movies/shows very much in general.
Since this movie was so accessible, it was easier to get myself to watch it. And like I said! It was such a good experience. After I watched it I was left thinking "holy shit why don't I watch things like this more often??? this rules!"
Theeenn like cosmic irony, the next day I got a migraine. So that's discouraged me from pursuing my plans in watching more things.
The initial euphoria of how much I liked this movie shouldn't be understated though. Bless everyone's whose ears I talked off explaining -- essentially the less eloquent version of this blog post.
I think I dreamed about it the night I watched it -- no exaggeration.
✿Now onto talking about the movie✿
Here's the synopsis that comes up when you Google it, so whether or not you've seen the movie we can all be on the same page:
"Megan considers herself a typical American girl. [...] So she's stunned when her parents decide she's gay and send her to True Directions, a boot camp meant to alter her sexual orientation. While there, Megan meets a rebellious and unashamed teen lesbian, Graham. Though Megan still feels confused, she starts to have feelings for Graham."
It's interesting to me, because this could be a horrifying movie. Like the bare level premise is "girl is forced to go to conversion therapy camp by her parents", you could take this premise and make it disgustingly raw. There's moments of it being too real -- Graham's parents, and how Graham interacts with them in general feels a little too real, but beyond that, the movie to me feels... fun? Fun is the best word for it.
Like yes, they're at True Directions supposedly being "turned straight", but in practice the movie is more "unlikely pair Megan and Graham have barriers between them while falling in love".
The movie could instead be about Megan getting convicted for a crime she didn't commit, and falling for Graham while the two concoct a plan to break out -- and the movie would functionally be the same.
What I'm getting at here, is that the plot -- while it could be heavy -- isn't taken very seriously. And I like that.
If you ask me, the thing that makes it work is the overall theme. There's this explicit understanding that True Directions CANNOT "make them straight" and that you can never change someone's sexuality.
My favorite example of this is Jan realizing halfway through the movie that she was never gay in the first place.
God that moment with Jan is so well done though. Like she's "masculine", she likes sports and grows facial hair -- there's this fallacy that because of that she must be gay. So she herself thinks she is -- but again! Halfway through the movie she's like "y'know what? I was never gay to begin with, I like men!"
AND WHAT DO THE PEOPLE WHO RUN TRUE DIRECTIONS DO???? They reject her!! They reject her being heterosexual!! Because their goal in the first place was never about "making them straight"... it was about making them fit this rigid standard!
It doesn't matter to them if Jan likes men, the goal was to make her palatable. The goal was to make her wax her upper lip, look feminine... whatever! She's the only one who leaves the camp heterosexual... and yet she is perceieved as a "failure" by the people of True Directions. It's such a good exemplification of the message imo.
I thought the girls were pretty spot on as far as "genres of gay girls" you'll see.
Like we've got the Velma lookin girl, a goth girl, a heart throb butch Graham, the femme in Megan.
They all feel very observed. They feel like girls I've really met in queer circles.
The boys on the other hand? Big negative incoming lmao.
In comparison to the girls, they're all very stereotypical. It's like okay -- we've got!:
⦁ Effeminate man who is blonde
⦁ Effeminate man who is Jewish
⦁ Effeminate man who appropriates AAVE
⦁ DANTE BASCO?????????????????????????????????????????????
I'm gonna eventually circle back around and talk about the negatives of the movie, and the male cast -- but I'm gonna talk about Dante Basco for a bit, because holy FUCK.
I'M GONNA SPOILER MARK THIS PART because while this movie is not very spoilerable -- this part really delighted me to go into blind, so I'd encourage you to do the same.
When Dolph left I just was like :( oh no Dante Basco, I'm sorry Dante Basco to see you leaving this movie Dante Basco...
So when he came back at the end, it was like the best plot twist the movie could have done. The plot twist is just that Dante Basco is in the movie more. More movies should use this exact same plot twist, like even if he wasn't in the movie before. BOOM. Plot twist. Dante Basco is here now.
Anyways jokes aside, I just love how genuine the scene is of Megan and Dolph talking, him just explaining to her how good it's been -- seemingly excited to be able to be friends and being enthusiastic over Megan being into Graham.... it's so adorable. It's the one scene that makes the characters feel their age -- they feel like teenagers just happy to be in a good space.
Also this isn't spoilery, but early in the movie when Megan catches he and Clayton -- and he yells at her "SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU STUPID LITTLE BITCH"... it makes me laugh every time man.
Okay circling back around to the negatives again.
In addition to the boys feeling stereotypical, the whole movie feels very.... I don't know how to put it any other way than "genital focused"?????????
It's got this very cis view to being gay, and even beyond that it's just obsessed with this idea of genitals?? I dunno man it's kinda fucked up.
There's a LOTT of punchlines or ""jokes"" where the entire joke is just "haha this guy is gay, that means he likes COCK!!! ;D" and it's.. just very :/.
I'm disappointed in this because otherwise it's such a fun and clever movie with such consistent theming. I feel like I just wanna drag this movie into Windows Movie Maker and cut out 5 minutes of dialogue -- and it'd be a better movie in my eyes.
Also for the record, I'm not against sex jokes. Just in my last blog post talked about how much I love Panty and Stocking which is all about that -- it's just the way that gayness is intertwined with this obsession with genitals that's exhibited in this movie that I'm not a fan of.
It also has that whole problem where the characters are teenagers, and the camera's "eye" oogles at the "underage" girls (I'm looking at you, opening shot).
Naturally the actors aren't actually minors, but it's still like "hm, couldn't you have made them college students and lose nothing?" sort of layer.
If anything mentioned would specifically ruin the movie for you -- keep it in mind, and maybe pass on it. For me I was able to just sorta cringe, shrug, and enjoy the other stuff.
Which the rest for me was worth it.
Megan and Grapham's relationship has this real chemistry I loved watching. I'm a sucker for sapphic cuteness, and while this isn't it in flying colors -- it's still a good watch.
I was gifted it it on DVD for Christmas last week.
It's slightly different from the version of the cover I saw at Blockbuster, but it still feels poetic to have in it's own way.