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UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation present

But I'm a Cheerleader

But I'm a Cheerleader
December 11, 2021 - 7:30 pm
In-person: 
director Jamie Babbit.


Stuck

U.S., 2001

Two aging lesbians have a heated argument that leads to an unexpected outcome involving a traffic accident deep in the California desert.

Digital file, color, 7 min. Director: Jamie Babbit. With: Jennie Ventriss, Jeanette Miller, Eden Sher.

New digital scan courtesy of The Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation.

But I’m a Cheerleader

U.S., 1999

In setting out to make a “gay Clueless” with one of the first-ever big-screen comedies to feature a teenage lesbian romance, filmmaker Jamie Babbit knew she was taking a risk. But when straight male critics threw her and her film to the wolves, negatively comparing her to established filth elder John Waters, Babbit knew her risk had been worth it. Now a venerated LGBTQ+ cult classic, this candy-colored, brilliantly witty satire takes the heinous trend of gay conversion therapy and stretches it to hyperbolic heights, shining a spotlight on these programs long before contemporary dramas like Boy Erased or documentaries like Pray Away addressed their disturbing growth and prevalence.

In Cheerleader, high schooler Megan Bloomfield (Natasha Lyonne) is more interested in listening to Melissa Ethridge than kissing boys, which spurs a panicked parental intervention and a roadtrip to True Directions, where Megan is forced to stay and pray the gay away with other homosexually “afflicted” teens. The heads of the camp, played by an out-of-drag RuPaul and a fiercely dom Cathy Moriarty, desperately employ everything in their toolbox to straighten out these teens for life—but, as with any teenager challenged by authority, one can guess the outcome. Bucking the “dead lesbian” trend by keeping her leads (including Clea DuVall, Babbit’s muse for the project) both in love and alive, Babbit ushered in a new wave of cutting-edge queer comedy for a generation in real need of a laugh.

35mm, color, 85 min. Director: Jamie Babbit. Screenwriter: Brain Wayne Peterson. With: Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, RuPaul Charles.