Friday, May 10, 2013
In defense of Mean Girls
The movie, not actual girls who are mean.
My friend Carrie calls Mean Girls a “laundry movie”—a movie that her husband’s not crazy about, but that she can watch over and over again. A lot of husbands aren’t crazy about the movie, but there’s a lot of substance underneath those quotable one-liners. I recently watched it with a group of friends, and it got mixed reviews, which is a common reaction, it seems.
And I’m going to defend this movie.
If it’s just not your sense of humor, or you just don’t connect with it, that’s fine. But if you think it’s one of those fluffy teen movies that lacks substance, I will have to disagree with you.
First of all, it’s based on a non-fiction book called Queen Bees and Wannabes, written about female teenage relationships. And guys may not realize this, but everything in Mean Girls is incredibly accurate. Every one of us girls knew a Regina George. She went to our high schools and she personally victimized us. So Mean Girls gets points for accuracy.
Second of all, seeing these complex and insane relationships in film allows us to see them for what they really are—totally messed up. It gives us a guide for what our friendships and relationships should and shouldn’t look like. Sometimes when we’re in them, we’re not sure. But when see them on screen, it gives us a little objectivity.
Third of all, it teaches valuable lessons about identity, friendship, honesty, and kindness. We get to witness Kady’s identity go through several twists and turns. As Kady learns the importance of thinking before she speaks, we do too. As Kady learns that making fun of others won’t stop them from winning, we do too. As Kady learns to speak in kindness and honesty, instead of manipulating them, we do too. As Kady learns that being herself is simpler and more powerful than trying to be popular, we do too.
Disguised beneath Tina Fey’s wit in the script of Mean Girls are the same lessons we learned from Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, and Lambchop’s Sing-Along. But sometimes we forget those lessons in the chaos of teenage-hood. So it’s nice to get a reminder that accounts for the complexity of growing up.
Fourth of all, Mean Girls is funny. But I guess that’s subjective.