badass_clovers_2Badass Femmes is a bi-weekly column written by So from So’s Reel Thoughts about all the Badass Females in pop culture that shaped her life.

Cheerleaders and football jocks have always been at the top of high school hierarchy, so it’s no wonder why us outcasts always had a love and hate relationship with them. But truth be told, my spunky and spirited 15-year-old self almost became a cheerleader before the inevitable wave of teen angst washed over me. Cheerleaders just had cutest outfits, got all the boys and I just thought my spastic nature would fit right in. Naturally, I had to see the holy grail of cheerleading films, Bring it On, and found plenty to love. As much as I adored Kirsten Dunst as the now iconic Torrance, it was the Clovers that stuck with me because of their no-bullshit, fearless attitude. Despite their economic and sociological background, they had the will to work hard, dream big and come out on top.

Raised in SoCal, I grew up with west coast hip-hop streaming through my radio and a melting pot of different cultures just a short drive away. It’s no wonder then why East Compton’s Clovers resonated more to me than the preppy, mostly white Toros. The Clovers were the ultimate underdogs even going as far as having their routine stolen, time and time again. They possessed the ferocious talent, smooth swag and fervent tenacity to win without the the charitable help of anyone else but themselves. Gabrielle Union as Isis, the Clover’s ring leader and her fellow teammates (including the ladies from R&B group Blaque) were the ultimate girl gang you desperately wanted to roll with, all while consciously never wanting to get on their bad side. It was clear that these girls shared a ride or die kind of camaraderie that couldn’t be easily torn down. With their vibrant green cheer outfits, fiery attitude and kick-ass dance moves, there was no stopping these girls –  it’s this kind of DGAF confidence that was refreshing to see and the kind of attitude they needed to help them win.

As mentioned however, the Clovers wouldn’t have been anything without their fearless leader Isis. Director Peyton Reed has named Michael Jordan’s hardworking ethic and blinding confidence was an inspiration to building Isis’ character, and it’s fully on display. A great example of this is when she replies to Torrance’s compliment of how great the Clovers’ routine was with a cheeky but earned, “We were weren’t we?” The way she totally owned that compliment is a kind of independence so few female characters are allowed in most films, and one that separates Isis and her team from any other basics all doomed to fall by the wayside. They’d never take a hand out but instead earned their way to the top despite any personal or social problem that stood in their way.

It’s been 15 years since Bring It On was released and my thoughts about the Clovers haven’t changed since then. As minorities who didn’t have the same opportunities as white girls with money, the Clovers were completely relatable, overcoming disadvantages to prove that the 3 P’s (passion, perseverance and patience) are the only real ways to get what you want.

To me, Bring it On is more than just a nostalgic teen film, but a story that so clearly touches on vitally relevant topics today such as white privilege. Even more so, it taught so many teens like me real life-lessons about integrity, patience in the face of an incessant grind and the intimate bonds between people which transcend ethnic, social and economic background. Thanks to this film, I can truly tell the world to BRING IT ON!


For more of So Yun Um, visit her website  So’s Reel Thoughts, or follow her on YouTubeFacebook & Twitter.