By Katarina Luistro
The fresh odour of melted butter and freshly popped kernels fills the air as the girls grab as many pillows and blankets as they can find, setting them a sane distance away from the glowing television set and slide into their plaid flannel pyjama pants and oversized hoodies, and carelessly twisting their long hair into loose buns. After a long week filled with exams, boy drama, and constant war within themselves, they surround themselves with a barrier consisting of comfort and each other, protecting themselves from reality as they indulge in the realm of the Mean Girls. The movie Mean Girls (2004), is more than just a chick flick on a Friday night sleep-over. Some have argued that it is “too smart for its audience“. At first glance, the film seems to be another vain movie on girl drama, love triangles, and social hierarchy, but it stands for more than that.
Throughout the movie, images of promiscuous and morally unsound behaviour are portrayed. One might argue that this is a poor depiction of teenage girls. I disagree. The movie spends most of its screen time on the negative aspects: dressing scandalously, back stabbing, and giving in to underaged drinking. These are the types of activities that parents would not like their daughters to indulge in or even be exposed to. A popular argument is that these films praise these types of behaviours, teaching female adolescents that this is how you can be cool and fit in. I argue that Mean Girls does not promote such behaviour but instead, highlights a truth: this is what many teenagers do. Mean Girls addresses many issues that teenagers face these days.
Mean Girls shines light on a big issue: teenage egocentrism. Teenagers are often shallow and insecure. Their insecurities can lead to vanity and greed that focus on tangible wealth. Media has corrupted adolescent minds into believing that in order to be beautiful, you have to be skinny: No matter what you do, you’ll never be perfect enough. Regina George, the antagonist of the movie, is described as the epitome of perfection. Do we think that she is beautiful because the media defines beauty as she appears? Most girls are not born like this. in fact, even these gorgeous women need to work hard to maintain their physical beauty in order to please the masses. Being naturally beautiful is not enough these days. A higher standard has been set by the media.
In Mean Girls, there is a scene in which the younger sister of Regina George, is watching a music video and tries to emulate the sultry dance moves of a pop star more than twice her age. Another scene shows that same little girl watching a “spring break” clip on MTV and lifting her shirt up copying the images shown on television. This makes a bold statement about media today. Content that should be restricted is easy to obtain and view. Tolerance for inappropriate visuals has increased in recent years. It would seem as though regulation of television programming and even the internet has become more lenient over the years. Violent shows and pornographic websites are accessible to anyone by a click of a button. Adult shows have become part of basic cable packages and need to be requested to have removed. Who can we blame for the lack of regulation in society? The providers as well as the viewers are a good start!
Mean Girls is not appreciated for its merits as a contemporary portrayal of how youth are heavily affected by media, and constantly contaminated by an unattainable meaning of beauty. But it should be considered a powerful tool for exposure of these themes. References to the movie are made all the time. For many, it is not just a movie, but an obsession. But in any case, the movie does a great job addressing many problems that teenage girls have to contend with, and by doing so, has given them something to relate to. The conclusion of the movie is an uplifting resolution: “Finally, girl world is at peace.”