While speaking to the women featured in my documentary, The Herring Quines, I was struck by the sense of history, legacy, and tradition they conveyed. In fact, these themes seemed to emerge in every discussion I had, both on and off-camera. They emerge again in this chat with my wonderful friend Lucy about how these women made ends meet, the role of mental health, and the wonderful world of fisher fashion.
Mean Girls is nine years old (technically, its birthday was yesterday, but I’m going to blame the transatlantic time difference for putting me behind).
Like many of my generation, and those after me, the film’s been a huge influence on my life. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, a film whose meaning resonates even after leaving school and as my teens draw to a close.
Here are just a handful of things that Mean Girls has taught me:
‘Whore’ is a bad word
Innocent me, having just seen the film, had a friend visiting my house. In the course of conversation, I saw fit to reply ‘boo, you whore’ to something she said, just as my mum walked in to the room. Needless to say, both were shocked, and I was embarrassed. I had never heard the word before and thought it was spelt ‘hoar’ and meant something like ‘pig’. Its true meaning wasn’t revealed to me until a good few years later.
Mini Plastics are a thing
Still in primary school, and oh-so-self-conscious of our social standing, my friends and I decided one dress down day to assert our perceived authority at the top of the pecking order by dressing like the Plastics. Even in their ‘villainy’ there was still something twistedly desirable about them. Though I didn’t think it at the time, kudos to my mother for vetoing my outfit choice.
Don’t take lunch tables literally
In many ways, the cafeteria map of cliques prepared me for the social hierarchy of secondary school. Group mentality and culture is something particularly strong in that environment, but being young, I think I read too much into it. Janice’s cafeteria map shows a group to suit everyone, but I was never really in one – by the time I found a solid, normal-sized group of friends, we were over the concept of cliquishness. As a teen, I spent way too much time worrying where I fitted in, not realising I did fit in already, I just didn’t need an entire table for my crew.
There’s always a Regina
No group is free of politics. While the film idealises the process of overthrowing established order, it also shows there are ways to make room for yourself, depending on the price you’re willing to pay.
It’s possible to quote an entire movie
Stick Mean Girls on, and I can pretty much follow it through word for word. I’m sure this isn’t exactly a unique skill, let alone a marketable one, but something I pride myself on nonetheless.
It makes the best mash-up memes
Happy Birthday, Mean Girls!