SXSW Film Review: Daughters of the Sexual Revolution

Muddled bio of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders’ leader

White hotpants. Sparkly blue halter tops. Vinyl go-go boots. All originate with Suzanne Mitchell, director and sometimes controversial “den mother” of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders from 1976 through 1989, and primary focus of Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Dana Adam Shapiro’s documentary chronicles the meteoric rise of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders during Mitchell’s tenure, incorporating interviews with several cheerleaders from the time as well as authors and historians waxing nostalgic for the grand days of Texas football.

However, Shapiro’s film positions its subjects within an it-was-the-best-of-times-it-was-the-worst-of-times frame that’s never resolved: the Sexual Revolution of the Seventies encouraged women to liberate their bodies, and yet many of the cheerleaders were frequently body-shamed; the cheerleaders enjoyed celebrity status, and yet were only paid $15 (before taxes) per game; and the list goes on, much of it pivoting around gender inequality and the feminist historical context of the time.

Ultimately, Shapiro’s documentary find its strength in Mitchell’s compelling and sometimes brutally honest retellings of not only what it took to launch a major global brand that transformed sports entertainment forever, but also the very real harassment she faced being a woman in a male-dominated field.

Indeed, Mitchell and others are given ample space to express their views that sexualization doesn’t always mean exploitation, but the film fails to introduce a broader conversation of the men who promoted the cheerleaders' sexualization in the first place. Though well-intentioned and aptly researched, Daughters of the Sexual Revolution buys into the good ol’ boys’ club that permeates popular sports culture today.


Daughters of the Sexual Revolution

Documentary Spotlight, World Premiere
Monday, March 12, 9:45pm, Rollins Theatre at the Long Center
Saturday, March 17, noon, Alamo Lamar C

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

SXSW Film, SXSW Film 2018, Daughters of the Sexual Revolution, Dana Adam Shapiro

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