Thus spoke Monica Aldama: Cheerleading and Nietzschean transcendence

Aurélien Daudi
Dept. of Sport Sciences, Malmö University

This article is a philosophical examination of the six-part documentary series, Cheer, which debuted on Netflix on the 8th of January 2020 to widespread enthusiasm. It centres around a dedicated young cheerleading squad at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, and their celebrated coach who rules the team with an iron fist, as they prepare for the annual college cheerleading championship. Part of the attention garnered by the documentary series was directed towards the coach and her unconventional, stern methods of leadership, which, to some, seemed to forego the best interests of the cheerleaders in favour of the pursuit of results. In applying the philosophy of Nietzsche, notably his perhaps most famed work, the enigmatic Thus Spoke Zarathustra, I present an alternate interpretation of the events. Through concepts like the overman, self-overcoming and the will to power, I discuss the possibility of attaining meaning, purpose, self-satisfaction and ultimately happiness through suffering. I then conclude by letting the argument propagate into and include the field of sports in general, likening the arduous training and attainment of mastery in sports to what I call the Nietzschean transcendence.

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AURÉLIEN DAUDI is a Ph.D. student at Malmö University. The subject of his research is the thriving domain of social media, particularly the digital culture surrounding fitness which, through the advent of social media, has grown immensely in popularity and appeal, recruiting into its midst young people from all over the world. He posits a dialectical synergy between fitness as a social practice and the governing values at the heart of social media, leading to the legitimization and promotion of cultural norms utilizing the body as an object of social validation. Channelling existentialist philosophers such as Nietzsche and Baudrillard he aims to critically examine from a philosophical perspective the social media culture surrounding fitness and its primary means of expression, seemingly being that of self-promotion through sexualization.


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