Comparison between the US theatrical version and the Director's Cut (the latter identical to the German DVD by PRO-FUN Media).
The MPAA and its problems with homosexuality in a teen movie
The 1999 film But I'm a Cheerleader didn't make much of an impression with critics and at the box office at the time, but over the years it has become a small classic, especially in the gay community. In a wonderfully exaggerated way, everyday life is shown in a camp where homosexual youths are gradually re-educated to "normal" heterosexuality. Everything is brightly colored and the comparison to Clueless drawn by director Jamie Babbit is not that far-fetched. It's a recommendable mix of quirky over-the-top humor and empathically depressing moments.
Attentive prospective buyers may have noticed that the DVDs available in, say, Germany (FSK 12) or the UK (BBFC 15) run about 5 minutes longer than the American R-rated version. Noticeable in that regard was that, according to the IMDb, a masturbation scene was allegedly problematic, as was Megan and Graham's sexual intercourse. Both would have been defused to avoid an NC-17 rating. Then in December 2020, they submitted a "director's cut" in the U.S., which coincidentally runs exactly 5 minutes longer again.
In an interview with Variety, Babbit also commented again on the fact that the MPAA objected to the sex scene playing in the dark. Curiously, it was the darkness that was seen as a problem, because the whole thing came across as much more raunchy than the director had ever intended. After she lightened the scene, the whole thing was approved - which again contradicts the information in the IMDb. Again, there is no mention of a masturbation scene at all. However, Babbit then mentions that at the same time she was instructed to remove mentions of oral gratification among women, while this was no problem in heterosexual form in parallel. She actually complied with this.
A Director's Cut Long Known in Europe
Interestingly, when the Director's Cut was promoted, there was no further talk of reversing any censorship that had been in place at the time. In fact, you won't find any differences in any sexually tinged scenes either. Instead, Babbit said of the differences:
And lo and behold: In fact, only three plot scenes, at least with further sarcastic side jabs at female role models and the influence of religion, as well as repeated moments during the credits, make up the difference. Especially the first scene with the mercilessly exaggerated educational film reminiscent of "Reefer Madness" is definitely one of the highlights of the film. It's a shame that this was withheld from US viewers for a long time.
In addition, a separate comparison with the old German DVD showed that all this material has always been in the film there. In this context, it is interesting that the German DVD refers to Franchise Pictures instead of Lionsgate at the beginning. Possibly the original version of the film was exported to Europe before Lionsgate bought the film and probably tightened it up a bit for the US theatrical release.
Runtimes are ordered as follows: US theatrical release VOD / Director's Cut VOD
11:39 / 11:39-13:08
Before Step 1, the Director's Cut offers another video where you see the "ordeal" of little Kelly. She would have had big plans of a modeling career before being seduced into the homosexual lifestyle in her youth. It transitions from friendly photos of children to a rocker chick with wounds on her face who talks about how she was abused by her girlfriend. However, after only two months on the True Direction program, she would have rediscovered her feminine side and even gotten married. Megan is overwhelmed.
89.7 sec (= 1:30 min)
22:28 / 23:58-25:00
The US theatrical version is also missing something before step 2. After the phone call, Megan checks off step 1 first. Then Mary starts earlier with an explanation for step 2. As latent homosexuals they would now have to rediscover their masculine and feminine side, respectively. Graham stands out because of her rejecting behavior and Mary addresses her critically. This "psycho gibberish" is their only alternative, otherwise they would have to swallow lots of tranquilizers or slit their wrists. She immediately goes back to her program with a grin.
62.3 sec (= 1:02 min)
34:50-34:52 / 37:21-37:52
In the US theatrical version, Megan is shown for a moment longer.
Instead, the Director's Cut offers another scene outside. Music is being played on the lawn: The song is about how great God is - and that he is, of course, straight.
Director's Cut 28.7 sec longer
35:39 / 38:39
When Megan is dreaming and there is a soft fade to her making out with Graham, the fade becomes clearer about 1 sec earlier in the DC. Censorship shouldn't be behind this though, the effect was simply repositioned marginally differently. On the German DVD, it was exactly the same as in the US theatrical version.
No time difference.
80:40 / 83:40-86:18
Before the scrolling text goes off during the credits, the Director's Cut has a summary of various scenes from the film, with the main actors all credited individually.
157.8 sec (= 2:38 min)
Now a few notes about the German DVD.
Other company notes to get you started. Also, the German title has been incorporated (including a little animation) with the otherwise identical credits.
Director's Cut 5.3 sec longer.
During the conversation in minute 3, it is particularly noticeable for the first time that the German DVD is closer, so Megan is sitting out of frame earlier. Throughout the film, it is apparent that single shots on the German DVD offer a significantly larger or simply different frame. In addition, the colors are much more vibrant in the Director's Cut.
On the German as well as the British DVD, the final scrolling text credits run a bit slower. This explains (converted to 24fps) the slightly longer runtime with credits there compared to the Director's Cut.
Lastly, the US VOD of the R-rated theatrical version is the same as the Director's Cut in terms of cropping. The colors are a little better than the pale German DVD, but also not as extremely turned up as the Director's Cut.