15 Ways Bring It On Perfectly Captured the Late ’90s

Don’t drop the spirit stick.

By Colleen Thornhill

Fifteen years ago today, Bring It On came into the world with its pom poms blazing. Although the film began as a simple semi-parody of the world of competitive cheerleading, it quickly turned into a cult classic and even inspired four television movie sequels. Bring It On gave us lines like “This is not a democracy, it’s a cheerocracy,” but perhaps its greatest gift to us is the way it captured the end of the ’90s era on film. The millennium was upon us, and groups like the Spice Girls and S Club 7 were on their way out, while cell phones and HBO original programming had barely just arrived. It was a simpler time, and hopefully one we may never forget, thanks to Bring It On. Here are some of the greatest historic ’90s truths the movie preserved for us.

  • 1 Cheerleaders were the coolest girls in school.
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    Back in the late ’90s, cheerleading was very in style. The whole film captures this sentiment, but it’s the opening scene that highlights it best. In Torrance’s dream sequence, her team chants a cheer that lets you know cheerleaders are sexy, cute, and popular to boot. “We’re everything you’re not” subtly sums up the elevated status being a cheerleader gave you back in the day.

  • 2 Being a rebel meant waving a middle finger and sporting faux dreads.
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    The most “dangerous” girl in school is from L.A., draws on her own tattoos, and has a seriously impressive back flip. Oh, such innocent times.

  • 3 Biting comebacks were all you had.
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    During the ’90s, you couldn’t rely on the anonymity of a computer screen to say what you really meant about someone (which is probably best). If someone dissed you, you needed to have an even better burn at the ready. Bring It On excels at such trash talk with lines like, “She puts the itch in bitch,” and “She puts the ass in massive.” These cheerleaders were the original Mean Girls.

  • 4 The hottest guys around were musically-inclined bad boys.
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    The ultimate ’90s cutie appeared to be a bad boy at first, but underneath it all, he was just a softie who understood the real you. From Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You to Jesse Bradford in Bring It On, these were the boys who stole our ’90s girls’ hearts.

  • 5 Sexual innuendo was everywhere you looked.
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    In ’90s teen movies, you could count on the male teenager to be portrayed as the thirstiest guy around. Can’t Hardly Wait, 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s All That—there’s always one guy whose main story line is his obsession with getting laid. Bring It On was no exception. The male cheerleaders were good at stunts but they had ulterior motives for being on the squad.

  • 6 Scrunchies were the ultimate hair fashion accessory.
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    If you never wore a scrunchie, you need your ’90s card revoked. Those plush hair ties were a rite of passage for any ’90s girl, and Bring It On helped us say goodbye by featuring them in almost every scene. It was a proper send off for that beloved piece of ’90s nostalgia.

  • 7 Car washing was your gateway to riches.
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    Before gems like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, if you needed to raise money, you had to get out there and earn it. The most popular fundraiser of choice for all ’90s teens? Car washes. Bikinis optional but recommended for tip purposes.

  • 8 Bandanas and British things signified you were fashionably hip.
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    If you weren’t up on your British pop culture, were you even around in the ’90s? With bands like the Spice Girls and S Club 7 taking center stage, it was everything to be British. If you were trying to be especially edgy, you were definitely inspired by Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera to rock a bandana or two. Here, Kirsten Dunst excels at both, like the hip ’90s teen she was.

  • 9 Mixtapes were a window to the soul.
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    With no Spotify or iTunes around to help people share music, ’90s teens had to get creative. If a guy made you a mixtape, it basically meant he loved you, because it’s not like that was a quick copy-and-paste process. And if he wrote the songs himself? You two might as well just go ahead and get married.

  • 10 Dancing around your bedroom was a normal pastime.
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    Back in the ’90s, a girl didn’t have to worry about snapping the perfect selfie since 1) she probably didn’t even have a cell phone, and 2) if she did it definitely didn’t have a camera on it. So, what was a girl to do with all her free time? Dance like no one’s watching, preferably to a mixtape she just got from a guy she’s totally crushing on.

  • 11 Before fetch happened, there were spirit fingers.
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    Mention spirit fingers to any ’90s kid and they think of this scene. A desperate Torrance hires a semi-psychotic choreographer, Sparky Polastri, to help them create a routine for their next cheerleading competition. His winning move? Spirit fingers. The ’90s will never truly be gone from our memory if we can keep these overexcited jazz hands alive.

  • 12 Showing up to school with your “pom-poms” out was your worst nightmare.
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    I think most teens’ nightmares today are never getting to at least 11, if not 111, likes on their Instagram pics. But in the ’90s, the worst fear you could have was still just a good old-fashioned nightmare about forgetting to wear clothes to school. But luckily, it was only just a dream. At least I hope so, for your sake.

  • 13 Sports bras were acceptable forms of shirts.
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