Thoughts on "Mean Girls" Ten Years Later

            On April 30, 2004, audiences were introduced to a movie about high school, its ups and downs and the people who make your high school experience what it is. From its eclectic blend of characters, to its memorable soundtrack, to its treasure trove of quotes,  “Mean Girls,” has cemented what is sure to be a lasting place in American popular culture. The movie catalyzed the careers of women like Amanda Seyfried and Rachel McAdams, who today both enjoy household-name status, and is regarded as one of Lindsay Lohan’s best roles. It also gave Saturday Night Live veteran Tina Fey a chance to show off her movie-making skills as a screenwriter.

            Now, ten years later, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of “Mean Girls” and, at times, the movie can be a bit difficult to escape, for better or for worse. There are few movies that I watch every time I see that they are on television, and even fewer that I can quote almost exactly from beginning to end. I am currently preparing for a dance show that is “Mean Girls”-themed and even prior to the tenth anniversary of the movie’s release, on any given day I could find a daily dose of “Mean Girls” references by scrolling through Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr. Variations of words like “fetch” and “grool” and phrases like “You can’t sit with us,” or “On Wednesdays we wear pink,” are used frequently with the hallmark attitude that helped to make “Mean Girls.”

            But beyond that, “Mean Girls” served a special purpose for a generation, my generation. It is to us what movies like “Sixteen Candles,” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” were to our parents—a glimpse into the spontaneous, comical, and at times profound mind of a high school aged teenager. In an interview with “Weekend Warrior,” Tina Fey said, "Adults find [“Mean Girls”] funny. They are the ones who are laughing. Young girls watch it like a reality show. It's much too close to their real experiences so they are not exactly guffawing." As an almost twenty-something who is more than two years out of high school, I can definitely agree with Fey’s statement. As an adult, to me, “Mean Girls,” is hilarious, because it was true. But as a teenager, this truthfulness was real enough to make me squirm. Despite the movie being a very obvious satire of the high school experience, I would be lying if I were to say that I didn’t fall victim to or indulge in any mean girl-esque behavior. I’m sure that many of my peers will agree. We all knew (or possibly were) a Cady Heron, a Regina George, a Gretchen Wieners, a Janis Ian, or even a Damien or Kevin Gnapoor.  The movie explored some of the most transcendent themes of adolescence: competition, insecurity, revenge and feeling alone. And within the exploration of those themes was the revelation that even when you feel alone you aren’t alone, that most problems can be solved with honesty, and that sometimes, all you can do is solve the problem in front of you no matter what else is going on in your life. In a world where it has become the norm to see catty backstabbing behavior and fighting, sometimes with little to no resolution, “Mean Girls” with all of its back biting and rumor-spreading can be a breath of fresh air. Beneath its humor is a story of how people relate to each other, how our insecurities can bring out the worst in us, but ultimately, how the right set of friends and the right mindset can bring out the best in us. For a movie to have had the lasting impact that “Mean Girls” has had is a milestone, and maybe in another 10 years, we will be praising another movie for making a cultural impact of equal or greater intensity. Until then, when it comes to the amount of ways “Mean Girls” can touch lives and inspire laughter, tears, and thoughts alike, the limit does not exist!