May I present to you our newest guest writer, Sarah Kremen-Hicks. This is without a doubt my favorite re-view of the project so far, and I hope she continues to throw down on the films of yore.

“On a second viewing, Kirsten Dunst’s teeth completely fail to learn a valuable lesson about white privilege.”


Bring It On: A Viewer’s Internal Monologue

  • Wow, was the dialogue always this stilted?
  • Ohmygod, quit smiling!  Your teeth are creeping me out!
  • Cheerleaders are really super-smart, but they pretend to be dumb so boys will like them.  Everyone seems perfectly fine with this.  Awesome.
  • Audition montage!
  • Cheerleaders: you can tell they aren’t sluts, because when the skanky girl auditions with a lap dance, they all look appalled.
  • Pop culture references really don’t age well.  But they worked okay in the John Hughes oeuvre, so maybe I’m just too much of a cranky old lady for this film.  (You kids get off my lawn!)
  • Okay, the entire tone of the movie just shifted ninety degrees.  (Shaddup.  I’ll mix my metaphors if I want to, dammit.)   That was fairly dizzying.
  • Hmm…  We’re serious now.  We have Weighty Issues of Race and Intellectual Property to ponder.  Oh, hey, another fag joke!
  • No, really, why did I like this movie?
  • They make a big deal about the existence of the boy cheerleaders, but in all the action shots, the guys get relegated to the background, and it’s all faux-adolescent T&A parade.
  • Spirit fingers!
  • Everybody’s daddy is loaded in this movie – why aren’t they addressing the upper class white girl bubble?
  • [Various things happened in here involving boyfriends, mean girls, and a training montage, but my notes were interrupted by a grocery list and next week’s menu plan.  I need pesto.]
  • Bloody noses and projectile vomit – really?
  • Action shots of the finalists at the national championship – after the whole plotline about how they shouldn’t have hired a choreographer, I’m (easily) amused by the fact that these are all extensively choreographed.
  • Aaaand there’s the heartwarming lesson that causes mean girls to be nice and hipster guitarist boys to doff their mantle of indifference and fall in love with vapid cheerleaders.
  • Dammit, now I’m going to have “Hey Mickey” stuck in my head all week.

***

I remembered enjoying Bring It On as a charming movie in which Kirsten Dunst learns a valuable lesson about the merits of hipster boyfriends, and Eliza Dushku learns a valuable lesson about … well, something.  Instead, on a second viewing, Kirsten Dunst’s teeth completely fail to learn a valuable lesson about white privilege, and all boyfriend candidates are equally irksome.

The major problem I had this time around was the shift partway through from hipster-ironical self-mockery (the cheerleader chorus singing “I swear I’m not a whore” in saccharine voices) to heartwarming tale of whatever-the-hell-this-is-about.  If you introduce the characters as objects of ridicule, you can’t expect me to give a shit when they learn the true meaning of Columbus Day.  The stylistic schizophrenia even overshadowed the fact that the film sets up a number of potential avenues of exploration – playing dumb for boys, financial disparity along racial lines in public education, disrupting the gender binary, originality vs. influence in art – and then spectacularly fails to follow up on any of them.

It’s clear that the film doesn’t hold up well to repeat viewings, but the more intriguing aspect for me (or perhaps I simply resorted to navel-gazing to avoid having to pay attention to the horrible dialogue) was my own reaction to it.  When the film came out in 2000, high school was still a relatively recent trauma for me, but I don’t remember cringing at the Mean Girls, the Insecure Jocks, or the casual adolescent brutality.  This time, when high school is a rather more distant (and, thankfully, hazy) memory, I was distinctly uncomfortable watching the film.  I’m not facing down a reunion anytime soon, so why was the reminder of high school so much worse now?  (Actually, I think my son’s impending kindergarten year may be to blame for this – I’m about to throw him to the same wolves that spent so many years telling me I was a loser.)

But, as I said, maybe I’m just entirely the wrong audience.

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