Mean girls is like the bible: almost every line can stand on it’s own. October 3rd is Mean Girl’s day, which means it’s time to repost all the gifs and one-liners you can. When media reflects reality, we’re only left to wonder what role candy canes can actually play in the dethroning of a queen bee.
Mean Girls is the story of a home-schooled teen, Cady Heron (played by a teen Lindsay Lohan in her Samantha Ronson dating era), who enters the territorial world of female politics in a public high school. The characters are brash, witty, and unforgiving. For a representation of teenagers in high school, there’s a strange lack of acne and pregnancy scares.
Ok, I lied, there’s that one pregnancy scare. But it’s not a positive symbol on a test. It’s a health teacher who teaches absolutely nothing valuable about sex. So I guess it’s actually pretty accurate for a public school in the United States.
When the movie came out in 2004 (yes, it’s been that long), it made a whomping 24.4 million the opening weekend. The film’s based on a book by Rosalind Wiseman, despite the book being more like a guide than it is a story. We have the ever-so-fetch Tina Fey to thank for the screenplay.
Wearing pink on Wednesdays
One of the high points of the movie is the aura around “The Plastics”–they’re like teen royalty, as Damian gushes in their introduction. Their deification around the school by not only students, but teachers as well, puts them in a privileged role. These girls seem to hate everyone, especially each other. Their inner-clique warfare comes down to a dress-code that’s more like a way of life.
Clubs and cults put guidelines into work to set up an idea of what’s right and who’s the other. In order to instill uniformity, a club might decide they all shave their head. The first time this happens can be ceremonious, like a swim team or rowing team hazing. These actions unite teammates and cliques. When you can’t buy clothes without getting a collective nod from your girlfriends, you can bet an image is being set.
The goal of looking and acting according to their rules gets the prized position of sitting with them at lunch. From what the audience can see, this position is coveted from their riveting tableside conversation: “is butter a carb?” But honestly, this is an interesting paradigm. Breaking bread is a nearly universal sign of camaraderie. We eat together, we exist together. Being banished to another table, or forced to eat alone in the bathroom, is like being told you don’t even exist.
Mathletes is social suicide
High school is a delightful time in anyone’s life. Teenagers are mean, and they apply pressure on anyone who’s different. That’s my personal experience, and that rings true in Mean girls. Cady loved math because it was the same in every language. Yet she let her grades slip so she could have an excuse to talk to upper-classman hottie Aaron Samuels, who’s not even that good at math. Her first impulse was to join mathletes, but when almost all of her peers professed negative ideas of the mathlete team, Cady let it slip.
At the end of the film, everything comes together for Cady at once–at a mathletes competition. Summary: she wore a mask in The Plastics and only regained face when she committed to something she really enjoyed. After winning the title, she goes on to become the Spring Fling queen and makes a speech about friendship and how the tiara everyone cares about is just plastic.
I saw Mean Girls twice in theaters. Once when it came out and once two months ago at a midnight showing. Since its release in 2004, its become a cult classic. I’ve rented the movie (back when that was a thing) nothing short of a dozen times. I know every line. And I don’t think I’m an outlier. I mean, I’ve heard the “she doesn’t even go here” joke too many times for me to buy that it’s not popular in pop culture.
I have this theory that you could patch together the entire movie from gifs floating about on the internet. Of course, I’m in college and don’t have any papers coming up, so I don’t have the time or an excuse to do that. But here’s what I’ll give you: check out your facebook, tumblr and/or pinterest feeds today and you’re going to find at least one Mean Girl fan.
The fans span age groups and demographics. Don’t believe me? Check out this wonderful parody, Mean Gurlz. And if you’ve never seen it before, you’re welcome for introducing it into your life.
Since the rise of Buzzfeed, we’ve all been subjected to its coagulations of gifs catalogued by other websites. (Oh wow, thanks for posting that gifset I saw on reddit two weeks ago! Good for you Buzzfeed, you go Buzzfeed!) That’s why I was so incredibly surprised when I ran into a bit of original content gold. A gem, if you will. Anyways, it’s the Mean Girls alphabet. Illustrated by Jen Lewis of Buzzfeed, the gifs got me to giggle the first time I scrolled through. But honestly, we should totally just stab Buzzfeed.
Super jumbo tampons
If you’ve ever heard of the Belchdel test, it’s a criteria to judge films on based on the representation and importance of female characters in the film. It has basis in an under-representation of women in roles who progress plot unrelated to males in high-budget and blockbuster films. Mean girls looks into the face of these kinds of films and tells them they look like a British man (and not even the Benedict Cumberbatch kind).
Mean Girls is part of a small group of movies, joined by Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect, that don’t diminish the roles women play in social groups. Mean Girls is gritty and mean, the girls strategize, scheme and backstab each other. But they get past it and make friends. And the plot doesn’t revolve around a man. Yeah, sure, Aaron’s hair looks sexy when pushed back, but the plot continues without his involvement.
Even the male principal defers authority to a female teacher during the film resolution. So much girl power all around!
I really enjoy the Mean Girls movie. I hope you enjoyed my commentary. What’s your favorite quote? Post it below.