American Pie, Pathbreaker

by Zack Beauchamp

Alyssa Rosenberg is unexpectedly impressed by the treatment of sexuality in the series:

I re-watched American Pie in preparation for a piece about American Reunion last week, and found myself spending a surprising amount of time talking to people about the franchise this week. For all its crass, happy commercialism, the movies have struck a deep chord with people, particularly on the question of how they portray sexuality. Take Michelle, for example.

Everyone remembers the payoff to her endless recitations of band camp memories in the first movie: “And this one time… at band camp… I stuck a flute in my pussy!” But no one seems to remember the line that comes after it, when Jim can’t believe what he’s heard. “What? You think I don’t know how to get myself off? Hell, that’s what half of band camp is—sex-ed,” Michelle informs him. “So are we gonna screw soon, ‘cuz I’m getting kind of antsy!” It’s a fabulous inversion of stereotype: while Jim is a clueless virgin who wants to sleep with a woman by the end of high school in part to know what it feels like, Michelle’s in touch with and knowledgeable about her own pleasure. She wants to sleep with him because she knows what she likes and wants more.