Bring It On and the Commentary on Cheerleading

In 2000, one of the greatest teen/cheerleading movies ever made was released. Fourteen years later, it remains a trenchant commentary on the cutthroat nature of cheerleading within the high school body politic. Directed by Peyton Reed (who has also given us The Break-Up), Bring It On continues to show us the insane and absurd psychological leanings of a girl in (cheerleading) uniform.

Standoff between rival cheerleaders
Standoff between rival cheerleaders

Ignoring the fact that one of the screenwriters for the movie, Stephen White, was a primary writer for Barney & Friends at one point, Bring It On makes some very salient points through its snarky dialogue. Kirsten Dunst plays the naive Torrance (likely she’s named after the shitty California beach town), who learns through a new addition to the Toros cheerleading squad that all of their routines have been stolen from the East Compton Clovers.

Missy and Torrance, the only cheerleaders on the Toros squad concerned with plagiarism
Missy and Torrance, the only cheerleaders on the Toros squad concerned with plagiarism

As the new head cheerleader (the old one threw in her pom-poms to go to college), Torrance is appalled by the revelation that the Toros are complete hacks, a message happily delivered to her by Missy (Eliza Dushku), who used to compete against the Clovers at her previous school.


The rival head cheerleader, Isis (Gabrielle Union, always fond of playing a bit of a bitch), vows to Torrance that they’ll take down the Toros at nationals. This intense vendetta elucidates several themes of the film, including the white privilege often associated with cheerleading, as well as the manner in which it pits girls against each other at an impressionable age. The very fact that a group of cheerleaders is addressed as a “squad” is telling of their warlike, combative nature.

Brr, it's cold in here, there must be some Toros in the atmosphere.
Brr, it’s cold in here, there must be some Toros in the atmosphere.

Moreover, Bring It On is very much a commentary on the lack of originality in cheerleading, as well as how lackadaisical most youths are when it comes to caring about innovation–a concept that is largely discouraged in high school.

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