“Blockers” Is Shockingly Sex-Positive, Feminist and Gay

The prevailing attitude I saw after the first preview for the new R-Rated comedy Blockers was one of heavy eye-rolling. People on social media immediately started critiquing the film’s main characters and concept for slut shaming, infantalizing their daughters and other misogynistic and anti-sex behavior. This criticism of the main characters was right on, and in a wonderful and surprising turn was very much the real message of the movie. While Blockers hits a lot of the same notes as most other raunchy teen comedies, this one also spends a lot of time breaking down the damaging beliefs and behaviors that are so prevalent in the genre and the beliefs it looked like were going to bog this one down especially.

This post has light spoilers for the movie Blockers

Blockers follows three parents — played by Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz — who find out their daughters (Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan and Gideon Aldon) have made a pact to lose their virginity on prom night and come up with a plan to stop the girls from having sex. That sounds terrible, right? It sounds like it’s going to be full of slut-shaming; the types of misogyny that say boys should lose their virginity early while girls should never lose theirs; fathers acting as if they have ownership over their daughters bodies; and loads of other terrible things. For a while, it does have those things. John Cena absolutely wants to “protect his daughter’s purity” and guard her from her “dangerous” date. Leslie Mann does want to stop her daughter from having sex because she says she knows what’s best for her and that she isn’t ready. But those attitudes are immediately challenged as soon as they come up.

Sometimes, the movie gets so far into explaining all the problems with the parent’s plans that it almost becomes a lecture on women’s empowerment and the absurdity of the whole concept of virginity and girl’s ownership of their own bodies. It always avoids that, though, and keeps it’s hilarious edge. Blockers calls out sexist double standards and repeatedly points out how old-fashioned and out of touch the parents are for wanting to stop their daughters from having sex. It focuses on female desire and agency. This movie is the counterargument to all the straight male comedians who say there’s nothing funny about feminism. It’s full of jokes about the patriarchy and regressive sexual attitudes, and that’s a great look for the future of comedy.

Blockers really shines when it focuses on the daughters. All three have different motivations to lose their virginity, and none of them are shamed by the film for wanting sex. They’re their own people with their own sexual desires. These girls are in charge of their sexuality and they’re not being pressured or led around by boys. They’re not characterless sex objects who only exist for boys to fuck. They’re not chaste, nonsexual beings to act as foils for the oversexed boys. They’re some of my favorite teen girl characters in a long time.

Oh, did I forget to mention that one of the three daughters is gay? Yep, there’s a whole story line in this movie about a high school girl coming out; in fact, a third of the movie focuses on her story. Even better, the story is really cute and nerdy and it’s done really well! These lesbians are adorable and they’re supported by the people they talk to about their sexuality; it’s actually one of the happiest gay story lines I’ve seen in a movie. It’s rare that a high school movie gives audiences a chance to root for one of the main girl characters to get another girl, but that’s exactly what this movie does. It’s a good feeling to see that in a movie theater. It’s a great feeling.

I think a lot of the credit for Blockers turning the regressive tropes of the raunchy comedy genre on their head goes to director Kay Cannon, the woman most famous for writing the Pitch Perfect films. She’s succeeded where so many male directors have failed and made the perfect high school sex comedy. Do you see what can happen when women get to make movies? Blockers made $20 million in it’s opening weekend, and I’m guessing a huge audience of women hasn’t seen it. Let’s change that and make this queer and sex-positive comedy the hit it deserves to be.

Mey Valdivia Rude is a bisexual Latina trans woman living in Los Angeles. She's a writer, comic consultant and a trans activist. She's a bruja, a femme, a pop princess and she loves comic books, witches, dinosaurs and crying. She has a cat named Sawyer and a very successful twitter.

Mey has written 574 articles for us.

20 Comments

  1. Damn, I immediately wrote off this movie based on the trailer. It really seemed to have that misogynistic anti-sex vibe, but apparently not? Hey, if we can trick people into thinking they’re seeing a raunchy teen comedy when they’re actually watching a deconstruction of the genre, sounds good to me.

    • Same! I saw the trailer and rolled my eyes so hard, thinking it was going to be so gross and regressive.
      I didn’t even realize it was directed by Kay Cannon! Thanks for this review; I feel like it’s gonna push a lot of ladies towards the theatre who would have otherwise avoided this film!

  2. Thank goodness for Autostraddle! I keep telling people this movie is actually a queer positive feminist comedy, but the previews are so awful it’s been a hard sell. It’s a really subversive trick because Blockers is being marketed as the kind of movie that the patriarchy thinks is funny, but is actually a much more hilarious movie in which the patriarchy is the butt of the joke. And the queer romance is actually the main love story!

  3. Wow, I saw the trailer for this and thought “This premise is so regressive, there’s no way these actors would have signed on to this thing if it plays out the way the previews show.” I didn’t expect this much subversion though, and now I’m excited for it. Its a shame my town only has a single screen theater and will probably get this in a few months.

  4. I too partially wrote this movie off because of the trail(I think one trailer called with Superbad for the girls, which I will admit to like, but not the selling point i want to see) and the weird promotion they were doing on Comedy Central. But, you review just tells me they trail is a Trojan horse of sorts; a movie that looks like it could be for the kids with a bro mentality(guys and girls included), but end up with a queer and woman positive story.

  5. I work in ~*the biz*~ and through that was able to have a better understanding of what the movie was going to be about—and was therefore so sad when the trailers didn’t really do a lot to show what a progressive, sex positive, queer friendly movie this was. I saw it opening weekend and most of the people in the theatre with me were dudes, some of whom legit walked out in disgust after one of the parent’s speeches about the other parents’ regressive attitudes. I’d really urge everybody to see this. It’s cute, heartfelt, progressive, hilarious, and made me actually miss high school.

  6. I went to see this tonight after reading this article, and I really enjoyed it! It was indeed sex-positive, feminist, and gay, and really funny besides (even the bodily fluid scenes, which this type of movie seems contractually obligated to include, weren’t TOO bad). I loved that the lesbian’s father wanted to stop her from having sex not because he thought she shouldn’t lose her virginity, but because he knew she was gay and that she’d regret losing her virginity to her (male) prom date, as she planned to do. Her sexuality was never the joke. It was a sweet little film and I’m glad I saw it.

  7. Oh my God. The trailer kept coming up as a YouTube ad and I’m like, “why are you showing me this garbage?!”. Do you reckon there’ll be a trailer that does the movie justice? I’d hate for this movie to _flop_ because people were turned off by the trailer!

  8. What??? Seriously? The movie ended up being good? I remember almost throwing up when I saw the trailer. Can’t believe it’s the same movie you are here talking about. Wow.

    Also, i’m glad we have a queer story where being queer wasn’t the focus of the trailer. It’s about a group of kids and their parents and one of them just happens to be queer. We find that out in the movie itself. Love it.

  9. I loved this movie! I laughed out loud all throughout, and when the teen lesbian has her first secret longing look at her crush, I leaned over to my friend and whispered “I knew it! She’s wearing a velvet choker!”
    It really is a sweet, feminist, hilarious story.

  10. I felt the same whilst watching the trailer, and I am so pleasantly surprised to hear that it subverts the tropes it appeared to be perpetuating! One part of me is annoyed that the trailer portrays the film in the way it does – because so many people are not going to watch it for that reason – but another part of me thinks it’s a smart move to draw in people who perhaps do have those regressive views who will go to see a move which challenges them.

  11. Although I am delighted that this movie turned out to be not terrible, the fact that it’s directed by the woman behind pitch perfect has me kind of… eh. Those movies were pretty racist.

    • I only remember one or two race-related comments in this one and they were at the racists’ expense, but I will admit that as a white person I may miss some less overt things.

  12. After reading this article I took my two teenagers to see this movie, and we all had a blast. Even the inappropriate, crude humor never seemed to be at the expense of the girls or the women. So refreshing. Also, there were definite gay jokes where only the queer people in the audience (okay, maybe just me) were laughing because instead of using the gayness as the butt of the joke, the writers were making jokes that a queer audience would be in on and understand.

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