[Marxism] Modern idylls of youth culture: an Independent review of the movie "Mean Girls"

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Wed Jun 23 12:23:47 MDT 2004

(...) There's the geeks, the jocks, the Asian babes, the mathletes and, at
the top of the tree, the Plastics. These are the It girls - they're hugely
popular, but the rules of belonging to their group are incredibly strict.
They have to wear the right outfits, certain clothes on certain days; for
example, they're not allowed to wear tank-tops two days in a week, hoop
earrings are banned, and they can't wear sweatpants unless it's a Friday.
The Plastics control the school, and the other students go along with the
hierarchy because they want to be in the popular group and be accepted. The
film shows how cliques can wreck everyone's life. You can almost see people
you know in Mean Girls. And you recognise the groups at school as well. At
my school, a mixed school with about 1,000 students, we've got the people
just like the Plastics and the outsiders, and we've got people who go along
with it. Just as in the film, a very small group of people manipulate the
rest of the school. There are a group of girls who are in control and what
they say, goes. For example, they wear a new pair of school shoes, and
suddenly everybody has to have the new shoes.

A lot of bullying is defined by what we wear. I'm one of the grungy type
people. When I used to come into school, people would shout "grebo", "goth",
"grunger", and yell at me for not wearing normal fashionable clothes. I had
always been a normal person, and then I turned up wearing grungy clothes and
everyone wanted to know what had happened. It all went against me. At first
it felt really bad. It annoyed me, because I hadn't done anything to them,
and it hurt - a lot. Now, when it happens, it just bounces back off because
I don't trust them. Why would I trust them when they say bad things about

Our social groups are defined by what we wear. The people who are highest in
the social hierarchy have got exactly what's in fashion. Lower down the
social scale people wear whatever they like. And even though our school is a
bit more tolerant and open-minded than the one in the film, some people are
still completely unprepared to talk to you if they think you belong to a
group that isn't cool. (...) The meanness in the film takes on different
forms, but it's almost all psychological. Sometimes the cruelty is dealt out
so subtly that the characters don't realise that they're being laughed at,
and they don't know what's going on. It's the same for us. At my school boys
fight and make up straight away. With girls you've got a whole grudge match
that goes on afterwards. The bitchiness can last for ages. In particular,
the film shows the girls "three-way bitching", which I've seen at school. A
girl will go into a room to start a conversation about somebody who's
secretly waiting outside the door. It's a way to set up someone you don't
like, and see what is being said about you behind your back. It's mostly the
more popular girls that do it, they mess with each other's heads. Lower
down, we kind of stick together, to escape what's going on.

It's the same with sex. A person's sexual experience becomes something that
can be used against them at any time. It's particularly bad at the top of
the school hierarchy, where it's all about how much sex you've had and
whether you've done this, or that. People get teased because: "I can't
believe you haven't done that yet". Similar pressures exist among the people
who aren't as popular, too. People try to impress the It people with their
sexual experience. But then, if they do, they get classed as sluts. If the
It people do it, they're cool. Does everyone deep down want to be an It
girl? I think everyone just wants to be accepted; that way they feel they
can be liked. If you really look closely, the It people are sometimes the
people who are the most hated, because people don't like them for what they
do. But no one says anything about it. They just keep quiet because they
think everyone else adores them.

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