Lessons Learned from Cheerleaders in Movies and TV

HellcatsIf I was still a freshman in high school, I can tell you right now that I’d be eagerly awaiting Sept. 8, 2010. Why? Because that’s when the CW begins airing its new series, Hellcats. Sadly it is not, as the title would lead you to believe, a weekly show about demon felines, but it is about a cheerleading squad called the Hellcats, which is basically just as good if you’re a 15-year old male.

Now that I’m a grown man, however, I’ve got better things to do than watch a show about the world of competitive cheerleading. For example, I need to get cracking on my spec script for a show about hellspawn cats. Or, since deep down I know the world isn’t ready for such groundbreaking television yet, I could just use this inspired time to rattle off a list of the 10 things I’ve learned about cheerleaders based solely on movies and television.

Lesson: Cheerleaders Don’t Care About Saving the Rec Center

Learned From: Every Cheerleading Movie Ever

In dance movies, the cool, urban kids are always dancing to save their local rec center or rescue some portion of their school from being shut down. You’d think that generic storyline would carry over to cheerleading movies since they both are just thinly veiled excuses to show teens gyrating, but that’s never the case. Cheerleaders are a selfish lot. All their movies are ever about is being A) better than the crappy football team for which they’re cheering, B) making it to state finals, or C) raising money for themselves. They also don’t really care how that happens, either, because there are a number of films within the niche that show them stealing to get what they want.

Lesson: Cheerleaders Love Government

Learned From: Bring It On

HellcatsI could actually make this entire list out of things I’ve learned from Bring It On, a legitimately good flick I think we can all agree has endured the test of time far better than any crystal ball could have predicted — but that would just be unfair to all the other pom-pom movies of the world. So instead we’ll just focus on the fact that, when disappointed by the demands of a democratic governing body, cheerleaders will invent brave new forms of institutional rule. Before BIO, no one even knew that a “cheerocracy” was a viable government model; now we all know that such a system is possible and that Torrance is a total cheer-tator about it, too.

Lesson: Cheerleaders Are Immortal

Learned From: The Undying Bring It On Series

You just cannot kill a popular cheerleading series. Sure, most of them aren’t going to be bound for the big screen, but I think between Bring It On, Bring It On Again, Bring It On: All or Nothing, Bring It On: In It To Win It, and Bring It On: Fight to the Finish, it’s safe to say that the cheerleaders cannot die.

Lesson: Cheerleaders Die So, So Easily

Learned From: Student Bodies, Cheerleader Camp, Cheerleader Massacre

Okay, I take the above lesson back. Not only can cheerleaders die, but they die so, so easily. Place them in a room with a cordless phone and they’ll find some way to get stabbed in the chest with a butcher’s knife. Pop on any horror movie featuring a pair of pom-poms, and by the 20-minute mark you’ll know that the only thing cheerleaders do better than have sex is get killed.

Buffy the Vampire SlayerLesson: Cheerleaders Can Be the Chosen One, Too

Learned From: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Normally the Chosen One is some meek boy with a hidden destiny or a muscle-bound titan ready to defy the gods. But every now and then (once in a generation, to be specific), a Chosen One can end up being a blonde cheerleader who resides in a quiet little town called Sunnydale. Bonus lesson: If you happen to be a vampire or demon or other force of darkness that wanders into the aforementioned Sunnydale, you are screwed.

Lesson: Cheerleaders Shouldn’t Jump on Trampolines

Learned From: Thanksgiving

I could have easily learned the lesson “Cheerleaders Shouldn’t Jump on Trampolines” from watching YouTube videos of poor girls doing wicked faceplants into barely padded gym mats after they miscalculate a bounce on a trampoline. However, any lesson learned there is easily trumped by Thanksgiving, Eli Roth’s fake-trailer contribution to Grindhouse. Because no matter how painful smacking into the metal ring of a trampoline looks, it’s got nothing on doing the splits right onto a 12-inch kitchen knife.

Lesson: Cheerleaders Make Terrible Bank Robbers

Learned From: Sugar & Spice

Sure, the gals at the center of Sugar & Spice do technically rob a bank with clever (but not really) use of their cheer moves, but that doesn’t make them good bank robbers. They still leave plenty of clues behind to tip off rival cheerleading detectives that they’re the ones who robbed a bank in order to pay for one of their own to have a child out of wedlock (again with the selfishness).

Lesson: Cheerleading Camp Is a Great Place to Get LaidSugar & Spice

Learned From: Fired Up

I feel like I should be arrested just for typing the phrase “Cheerleading Camp Is a Great Place to Get Laid,” but it’s certainly a valuable lesson to take away if one just so happens to still be in high school. If you want to be awash in skirt-clad ladies, apparently all you have to do is go to cheerleading camp and they’ll all throw themselves at you with minimal effort.

Lesson: Cheerleaders Will Ruin Your Life

Learned From: American Beauty

If you’re not in high school, however, you need to quickly forget that last lesson. Granted, the cheerleader depressed middle-aged father Lester Burnham fantasizes about in American Beauty isn’t the only thing that ruins his life, but the unhealthy nature of their relationship certainly doesn’t earn him any bonus karma points (though it may get him a sweet high five if he had any guy friends to brag to).

Lesson: Cheerleaders are Always Willing to Take One For the Team

Learned From: Debbie Does Dallas

I know I said earlier that cheerleaders were a selfish lot, but that’s not always the case. Take the fine piece of ‘70s cinema that is Debbie Does Dallas, for example. When the titular squad captain’s conservative parents won’t give her money to try out for the “Texas Cowgirls,” her gal pals all band together to raise the money by using their cunning entrepreneurial skills. It’s a classic, heartwarming tale of working hard to make the American dream come true, which is a value sorely lacking from the other titles on this list.

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