That’s right, Mean Girls. Since 2004, this blockbuster comedy has won over the hearts of millions with its heart-warming story about trying to fit in and an endless supply of quotable one liners. While this movie is typically seen as a light-hearted chick flick, targeting a mainly female audience, the reason I watch this movie over and over is because I believe it offers so much more.
The high school community is just that, a community. Just like any other, this community has it’s set do’s and don’ts, areas dominated by certain groups of people, as well as an on-going balance between feeling united and never feeling more alone. When a nervous, yet eager, Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) takes her first steps into a public high school after moving from Africa (not Michigan), she is immediately thrown into the chaotic jungle of mixed messages, nuances, and discrete manipulation. We see Cady’s parents sending her off on her journey, filled with parental advice, words of support mixed with nerves and excitement, when Cady turns around and almost gets hit by a bus. This is something that everyone can relate to on a metaphorical level. Every new chapter we’ve worked towards, we step into with wide eyes and our chins up, ready to take on whatever challenges may come our way, only to get hit by a metaphorical bus of too much needing to get done and not enough to time to do it. This critical moment makes or breaks a person. It’s when they either back out and are unwilling to follow through with the realities they have worked towards, or they take a deep and do as Cady does post-near death and say “I’m okay”, and they commence their long and arduous path into the wild.
These types of parallels continue flawlessly throughout the entire film. All of us have our own Regina George acting as an obstacle that we constantly try to maneuver around. We all have our own Aaron Samuels as that thing that despite how confident or put together we might be at times always seems to strip us down to WHAT AM I DOING WHAT IS LIFE I CAN’T BREATHE. Hell, we all even have our own personal versions of the fertility vase of the Ndebele tribe that we hide under the sink, a parallel to our roots and upbringing that we sometimes feel we need to hide away in a corner to experience new things, learn, and grow until finally we take it out again to appreciate where we come from.
The parallel that really struck a chord with me was when Ms. Norbury (Tina Fey) sits the junior class girls down in the gym after the burn book is released and says “…You guys have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.” Now while you could argue that this may or not be true in terms of calling people sluts and whores, the point of this moment is that it sets up that notion that we all lead by example. Whether you are a leader in your community or an active member of a following, the more people do something the more we give others permission to do the same. I feel like there are too many people that just see the world and all the shit that’s going on and feel powerless. They believe there is nothing they can do about it to bring any sort of palpable change. But what Tina Fey says here is 100% true. While there will always be ass hats in the world, we do have the power to bring about change by simply doubling down on what we believe is right and true. By doing so, we give others the permission to do so as well. Leave it to Tina Fey to show us the light.