American Pie and But I’m A Cheerleader were both released in 1999.

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American Pie features:

  1. A pact between four straight high school boys to have sex by any means necessary.
  2. A male character masturbating into a pie.
  3. A humorous depiction of filming a high school aged girl in a sexual situation without her knowledge or consent, and broadcasting that to the entirety of her peer group and presumably the world. This tragically results in her humiliation and deportation, which means that the male character who filmed her will not be able to have sex with her in time to fulfill the pact (which is why it is tragic). (In a subsequent installment of the American Pie series, the girl returns and is not only not angry, but still amenable to a sexual relationship with said boy.)

But I’m A Cheerleader features:

  1. A satirical depiction of a traumatic and harmful practice known as ‘reparative therapy,’ colloquially ‘degayification,’ with special attention paid to the fact that it doesn’t really work.
  2. One sex scene between female characters, not fully nude, shot mostly using close ups on the actress’ faces. Everyone is consenting, and no one has lied in order to receive consent.
  3. One female character suggested to be masturbating, not shown.

The MPAA gave American Pie an R rating, without hassle.

But I’m A Cheerleader initially received an NC-17 rating. This rating was only lowered to R (thus opening the film up to distribution) when the director agreed to cut a scene featuring the lead female character masturbating. Through her clothes. While thinking about a person, and not a pie.

Female sexual pleasure is considered not OK for teens to watch. Male sexual pleasure is

Male sexual violence is more appropriate than women’s sexual pleasure.


Watch the documentary “This Film is Not Yet Rated” for more info on this double standard! The director of “Boys Don’t Cry” talks about how she couldn’t include a female orgasm without getting an NC-17/X rating, and yet the film was able to depict rape, violence, graphic murder and homophobia/transphobia and still keep an “R” rating.

Seconding the suggestion to watch “This Film is Not Yet Rated”! It’ll change the way you think about the film industry and MPAA.