7 Ways 'Mean Girls' Was Way Ahead Of Its Time (Hint: It's Not Just Because It Made Fetch Happen)
I have a question for you: What day is it? If you answered anything other than "It's Oct. 3, aka unofficial (but sort of official) national Mean Girls day," then you might need to re-check your priorities. Because today is the day that Aaron Samuels asked Cady Heron what day it was, and therefore, it's a big day for Mean Girls fans everywhere. It's the day that we can all come together and prove our dedication to the film, as we annoyingly walk around and incessantly quote the likes of Cady, Regina, Karen, Gretchen, Damien, Janice, etc.
Oh, wait... I do that everyday anyway. In fact, Mean Girls quotes compose approximately 50 percent of my lexicon. But maybe, just maybe, that's because Mean Girls was actually iconic and way ahead of its time. It would explain why fans so vehemently worship the film, even after it's been over a decade since its release, wouldn't it?
You see, most teen comedies follow the same narrative (boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back), cover the same topics (loneliness, love, etc.), and fumble over the same jokes. But every once in awhile, there comes a teen comedy that subverts all those ideas in a beautifully feminist way — or, at least, puts a whole new spin on them. Case in point: Tina Fey's 2004 masterpiece, Mean Girls.
A movie about four teenage girls navigating — to use the film's own metaphor — the “jungle” of high school might not seem ahead of its time at first. In fact, it might seem, dare I say it, trite (i.e. not fetch). But, a deeper look at the film’s idiosyncrasies and certain handling of characters and themes prove that Mean Girls was totally visionary.
Need more proof? Here are some reasons why:
1. Its Voice Was Spot On
Mean Girls was an important movie dressed in the guise of teenage satire. The film's quick dialogue and snarky overtones spoke to growing millennials, in a way that other films hadn't quite yet mastered.
2. It Tackles Body Hate
When the cast of young woman sit in front of Regina's mirror and pick apart the things they hate about their appearances — i.e. "My pores are huge!" and "My nail beds suck" — it's meant to be a funny scene. And, it is, because it's clearly ridiculous that this group of girls are picking out the most ridiculous flaws about themselves, as well as that each feel more obligated to one-up each other with their supposed "flaws." But, there's also something bigger being said here. Young woman are encouraged from a young age to bond over self-hatred, and this scene sheds light on the ridiculousness of that concept.
3. It Shows Acceptance Of One's Own Appearance
Unlike other teen movies where the "un-hot" girl becomes "hot" and then her life is changed forever and she's happy, Mean Girls doesn't roll like that. Cady goes through the typical "makeover," but by the end, she realizes that looks aren't everything and returns to the normal style she's comfortable with. Spoiler alert: she ends up being "grool" with that.
4. It Discusses Bullying In A New Light
Mean Girls showed us that the bully vs. bullied paradigm is a cyclical one. When the film starts out, Cady and Janis are the ones that feel they've been bullied — but by the film's climax, they are the ones doing the bullying.
5. It Takes On "Girl Hate"...
The scenes in the film when all the girls come together and discuss how hurt they've all been by each other really painted a realistic picture of cruelty behind classroom walls.
6. ... And Peer Pressure
As an outsider, Cady Herron is more easily influenced by peer pressure than some of the other students, but Mean Girls reminds us even the popular girls (i.e. Gretchen) are susceptible.
7. Its Portrayal Of Damien Is Important
Daniel Franzese's portrayal of his character Damien was an important one for LGBTQ representation in Hollywood. Franzese wrote a coming out letter published on Indiewire's /Bent site last year that highlighted an admirable trait of Damien's: Specifically, that Damien was a gay character we could "laugh with and not at." It was one of the first times such a representation had been seen in cinema, especially in the teen comedy sphere.
Even if you didn't remember that today is the most important day for any serious Mean Girl fan, that doesn't mean you can't nostalgically recall everything about Mean Girls, including all the ways in which it broke the mold. Now, go forth and enjoy your Oct. 3!