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  • Writer's pictureBreanna Crossman

Pom-Poms and Protest: Unveiling the Cult Phenomenon of “But I’m a Cheerleader” by Smrithe Rajesh

Updated: May 15

"But I'm a Cheerleader" is a movie that holds very near and dear to me with it's vibrant color scheme and campy journey into the world of sexual identity and self-discovery as a young teenager. It’s as if it was the hybrid child of Wes Anderson and John Waters, with its quirky characters and biting satire creating a cinematic experience that is as delightful as it is subversive." Directed by Jamie Babbit, this cult classic offers a refreshing blend of humor, satire, and heartfelt storytelling that leaves a lasting impression.

At its heart, "But I'm a Cheerleader" follows the story of Megan (Natasha Lyonne), a high school cheerleader whose seemingly perfect life is turned upside down when her friends and family stage an intervention to address her supposed homosexuality. What follows is a hilarious and poignant exploration of identity, acceptance, and the absurdity of gender norms.

However, one of the film's greatest strengths lies in its ability to tackle serious subject matter with a lighthearted touch. Through its colorful and exaggerated visuals, "But I'm a Cheerleader" creates a world that is both surreal and strangely relatable, inviting viewers to laugh at society's rigid expectations while also challenging them to question their own prejudices.

Natasha Lyonne shines in the lead role, delivering a performance that is equal parts endearing and comedic. As Megan navigates the ups and downs of conversion therapy, she undergoes a journey of self-discovery that is as empowering as it is entertaining. Along the way, she forms unlikely friendships with fellow "rehabilitation," played by a stellar ensemble cast including Clea DuVall, RuPaul, and Cathy Moriarty.

"But I'm a Cheerleader" also deserves praise for its bold and unapologetic approach to LGBTQ+ representation. By portraying queer characters with humor and humanity, the film challenges stereotypes and celebrates the diversity of the queer community. In doing so, it sends a powerful message of acceptance and affirmation that resonates long after the credits roll.

In the end, "But I'm a Cheerleader" is more than just a campy comedy - it's a thought-provoking exploration of identity, love, and the courage it takes to be true to oneself. With its infectious energy and heartfelt performances, it's no wonder this film has become a beloved cult classic among audiences of all ages years after its prime. 

Smrithe Rajesh is a 16 year old writer from Richmond, Virginia. Her work in prose as been featured in organizations such as Incandescent Studio and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. In her free time, she likes to eat ice cream and watch video essays on YouTube.

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