Writer: Shauna Cross
Director: Drew Barrymore
Starring: Elliot Page, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Wiig, Sarah Habel, Shannon Eagen
Copyright Date: 2010
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Languages: English, dubbed in French, Spanish
Subgenre: Action Adventure, Comedy
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Bliss Calendar does not fit in her small town of Bodeen, Texas. Her mother, a former beauty queen, wants Bliss to be a pageant girl, but Bliss' heart isn't in it. After a chance encounter with some roller derby girls, Bliss decides to investigate the derby scene and soon realizes she has a talent for it. This coming-of-age film follows Babe Ruthless, a.k.a. Bliss, as she begins to find her self-confidence and learns that there is value in being part of a team.
A bit of an unconventional sports film because of its focus on an underground team sport, Whip It does explore the familiar tropes of belonging to a team, being an underdog, and self-discovery through competition. The soundtrack is fun and reflects the culture of derby, but it plays second to the sounds of the track, skates, scuffles, and falls that occur during the practices and derby matches. Songs include pop punk classics from the Ramones, Peaches, and The Ravenoettes as well as well as more modern offerings from MGMT, Turbo Fruits, and Radiohead. While the ending for the underdogs follows a more 21st Century ideal, the film is still uplifting and full of fun. Because it is roller derby, there is violence, blood, and broken bones as well as strong language, but the consequences involved are not too demanding and can be enjoyable for a broad array of teens.
Bliss Calendar isn't quite sure what she wants to do with her life. Then she encounters roller derby.
About Shauna Cross
Derby Girl, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2007.
Whip It! (movie adaptation of Derby Girl), Flower Films, 2009.
Also author of screenplays, including Shake It Up, for Disney.
After attending film school at the University of Texas, Shauna Cross set her sights on Los Angeles to begin a career in the film industry. Moving to Southern California in 2001, Cross began writing screenplays while looking for her big break. During that time, she also discovered the world of women's roller derby, a move that ultimately led to successful publication of both a young-adult novel, Derby Girl, and the production of a screenplay, Whip It!
Competing under the name Maggie Mayhem, Cross joined the Los Angeles Derby Dolls in the mid-2000s, becoming a participant in the cross-country resurgence of roller derby. Acting upon the advice of a friend, she has turned those experiences into a young-adult novel about a teenaged girl named Bliss Cavendar who uses the sport as a way to assert her independence. Set in the small town of Bodeen, Derby Girl relates Bliss's story about growing up in the state of Texas. To a certain extent, some aspects of the book may be seen as autobiographical; in an interview with J.L. Sosa for FilmSchoolRejects.com, Cross explained that she combined her experiences growing up in the Lone Star State with her time in LA roller rinks. "My mom did not push me into beauty pageants, but I grew up with those girls and it always fascinated/creeped me out," the author told Sosa. "The juxtaposition of the beauty pageant world and the roller derby world was really fascinating to me because they both represent two extreme ideas of femininity."
(About from here.)
Discuss the culture of roller derby.
Challenge issues: LGBTQIA+, underage drinking, strong language
Challenge Issue Resources:
Nevada County Library Selection Policy
Selection of materials is based upon a number of criteria that include:
The Library selects materials in accordance with the guidelines stated by the American Library Association in its Library Bill of Rights, and Freedom to Read Statement and Freedom to View Statements.
The Library supports diversity of expression and views in its collection in an attempt to provide patrons with a foundation for making informed decisions and formulating personal opinions. The Library does not exclude items because of the race, nationality, social, political, or religious views of the authors. The presence of controversial materials in the collection does not represent the Library’s endorsement of the opinions expressed therein. Although some materials selected may contain language and/or illustrations that may be offensive to some patrons, the Library cannot undertake the task of pleasing all individuals by censoring such items.
Active Listening Skills
Staff should listen calmly to the patron’s concerns without judgement or commentary. They should acknowledge the public’s right to challenge materials and help the patron find an alternative item that will fit their needs.
Nevada County Library Reconsideration form
Any citizen may challenge materials. If the citizen chooses to submit a written Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials, Library staff will collect reviews and accumulate data on how the material conforms to the selection policy. An ad hoc review committee consisting of the Library Director, Branch Manager, one other librarian, and a citizen appointed at the discretion of the Library Director will review the material, judge whether it conforms to the Selection Policy and submit its report in writing to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. Concerned parties will be notified of the final decision in writing.
ALA Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials
ALA Bill of Rights on Intellectual Freedom
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
A sports movie with moxie, Whip It is approachable to teens regardless of gender. The story of a young woman finding her power is universal, her love of burly activity commendable. While this film is getting older, it still feels timeless in its themes.
Please note: While this film was created before Elliot Page’s transition, I have changed the credit above in order to not dead name the actor.