The rain in College Station prompted me to stay in last Thursday, forget about school for a few hours and watch one of my favorite movies, “Mean Girls”. “Mean Girls” is a film centered on the “popular girls” in high school. A naive, Cady arrives at her first day of public school and immediately catches the attention of the Queen Bee, Regina George. Despite the affection she receives from the in crowd, Cady formulates a plan to infiltrate and “take down” the popular clique with help from her friends Janis and Damien, who have convinced her that the popular crowd is pure evil. Little does she know, Janis has her own personal, intrinsic motivation for destroying the group. A former member herself, Janis was publicly humiliated by Regina in middle school and is using “the Plastics’” new infatuation with Cady to achieve revenge. Although I really like this movie, I do wonder what prompts teenage girls to be so mean to each other almost arbitrarily. Regina is best
characterized by narcissistic personality disorder reflected in by her constant need of admiration (which she receives not only from her friend group, but from many other students who seem to idolize her) and her lack of empathy, shown in the movie by her “boy snatching” and merciless comments made humorous by the writers. Insecurity is also a popularly believed cause for malicious actions to one’s own friends. The Plastics are shown contemplating their flaws in front of a mirror as a typical after school routine and encourage the new member, Cady, to join in. Self-deprecation has become a social norm in their group and it breeds even more insecurity within the individual, yet makes other members of the Plastics feel slightly better about themselves. “At least I don’t have shoulders like Gretchen”, the girls use this tactic to bolster their confidence despite the fact that they tear each other down in the process. The “friends” are constantly making snarky comments towards one another in a battle to gain Regina’s approval. The group dynamic is not atypical amongst the subset of teenage girls, who often seek acknowledgement from the group’s leader. The humor used by the creators of the movie gets people to realize the truth and common occurrence of the strange rituals high school girls have come to accept as “normal” and shows how ridiculous they are in reality. The movie also showcases how easy it is to get caught up in “keeping up with the Joneses” and the materialistic nature of our society. The need to have the right jeans, the right purse, and perfect hair in order to avoid public ridicule from your so called friends gives the term friendship a whole new meaning. The behaviors learned through these high school survival rituals are often difficult to unlearn as we mature. We’ve all had that friend that makes us feel badly about ourselves, yet in the unlearning process we are slow to recognize the absence of true friendship; instead we are engage in a competition we didn’t plan to enter. Perhaps it is the unlearning process that causes us to ultimately have a few very dear friends, having shed those that haven’t matured past the high school rituals used to make them feel better about themselves.
Waters, M. (Director). (2004). Mean Girls [Motion Picture]. United States: Paramount