Mean Girls and the Fall of the Soviet Union: More Similar than You Think

Okay, so, you know when you write down a note, and you think it’s really funny and gonna become the next big million-dollar idea, propelling you through grad school with a book deal in your near future? And then you look back at it, and you have absolutely no idea what you were talking about?

Yeah, well, I’ve had a note with “Midterm paper idea! How the fall of the Soviet Union is basically the plot of Mean Girls,” on my computer home screen for the last 6 months.

The more I thought about it, however, the more it really does make sense! Cady and Janise’s simple three-step plan to take down Regina George at North Shore High School in Mean Girls can be translated right over to the fall of the communist nation in the late 1980s. Here’s how:

  1. 1. Aaron Samuels

    The first step of Cady’s plan is to ruin her relationship with Regina’s boyfriend, Aaron Samuels. In the Soviet Union, the relationship between the ruler and the people of the state was crucial. When Mikhail Gorbachev was named ruler in 1985, he was much younger and more energetic than his immediate elderly predecessors, and he was much more ready and open to making changes—like perestroika and glasnost—to modernize the state. These changes, just like the changes to Regina’s relationship status, made the Soviet Union much less stable as people gained individual freedoms and vied for more.

  2. 2. “Hot” Body

    Cady’s second step was to destroy Regina’s self-image. Just as Cady took down Regina’s mental image of herself through protein bars and prom dresses, the Soviet Union gradually lost control of its social status in the world through its technology races with the United States. Despite its early success in the Space Race, the United States beat it to the moon—a major milestone—and in the later half of the century the Soviet Union appeared to fall behind in all areas of science innovation, as shown in Nixon and Khruschev’s Kitchen Debates.

  3. 3. Army of Skanks

    The final step of Cady’s plan included removing Regina from her friends by driving a wedge between her and her minions, Gretchen and Karen. Likewise, the Soviet Union bore witness to many of its communist neighbors switching to more democratic government styles following protests and uprisings in the late 1980s. In 1989 alone, Poland gained an independent victory at the February Polish Round Table meetings between union and government officials for representation; East Germany collapsed with the fall of the Berlin Wall in November; and Czechoslovakia underwent the Velvet Revolution, seamlessly transitioning from a one-party Communist government to a more representative democracy in December. Without its friends, the U.S.S.R.—much like Regina—was more alone and paranoid than ever, and after a failed coup d’etat in Moscow, it dissolved itself at the end of 1991.

So, if you’ve ever needed a good method of remembering the factors that led up to the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 20th century, there you have it. Please tell your professors that all historical events can and should be taught through early 2000s teen movie references.

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