Its been almost 10 years since Mean Girls took its place in the pop culture pantheon of teen flicks.
By JENEÉ OSTERHELDT
The Kansas City Star
After all this time, its still, as queen bee wannabe Gretchen would say, fetch. Just this year, when Jennifer Lawrence accepted the Peoples Choice Award for favorite movie actress, she referenced a scene from the movie:
I wish this was like Mean Girls and I could just break this up and throw it at all of you, because youre all responsible, Jennifer said, evoking the spirit of Cady Heron (played by Lindsay Lohan) as she let go of her inner meanie and shared her Spring Fling crown with her classmates.
Thats the nice side of Mean Girls. Unfortunately, in the decade since the movie debuted, high school is still home to mean girls. Remember the movies Burn Book, that little notebook kept by Plastic leader Regina (Rachel McAdams), full of gossip and secrets? It has given way to catty Twitter hashtags and Facebook statuses.
Tina Fey, of Saturday Night Live fame, based the movie on her own high school years and on Rosalind Wisemans powerful advice book for parents of teen girls, Queen Bees and Wannabes. With the spirit of mean taking over parents, too, Wisemans 2006 sequel, Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads, is also going to the silver screen. Mean Moms. Scary.
But why did we love Mean Girls so much in the first place?
It tells our story. Before she fell down the winding road of drugs, courts and rehab, Lindsay Lohan came alive here as the 16-year-old home-schooled girl from Africa who must navigate high school in America. She is the bullied and the bully.
Whether we admit it or not, we all have played both roles. The movie helps us laugh through the pain of peer pressure and fitting in. Its one of those brilliantly wicked movies that uses comedy not just to laugh at teen angst but to delve deeper and inspire everyone to rise above the gossip, the insecurities and other pitfalls of adolescence.
The Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet will host a special screening of Mean Girls Sunday night, a quote-along for all the fans to remember their favorite lines, with the help of strategic subtitles. Like Thats why her hair is so big, its full of secrets.
But like the movie, the quote-along brings some depth. After the screening, I will host a short discussion on how not to be a Plastic, a Queen Bee or a Mean Girl. Because in our schadenfreude culture of tearing celebrities down and body-shaming, its easy to give in to the mean. High school girls from Awesome Ambitions, a Kansas City mentoring program, and Rebel, a peer education program that started at Blue Valley Northwest and is now in eight schools, will help lead the talk.
Its critical to use social media, music and movies as a vehicle to talk about serious issues like bullying and body image, says Laura Eickman, the clinical psychologist who founded Rebel. It helps connect us in a more significant way than we otherwise would. A movie like Mean Girls still resonates because the culture that it portrays still persists.
In the movie, they remake Cady so that she can fit in with the Plastics. Otherwise, they dont think she is good enough. There is such a desire to be in with the in-crowd that the cliques have continued. And now, with social media, that obsession with appearance and fitting in is magnified. People dont get to know one other, they get to know the snapshot. We have to turn that around.
It starts with talking to each other and thinking twice before we gossip, obsess over our looks or tear down others. The Mean Girls quote-along isnt the glorification of mean girls, its a celebration of how not to be one. Well watch the movie, well scream and laugh at the screen and have a heartfelt conversation, too.
Also, its on a Sunday, so you dont have to wear pink. We wear pink on Wednesdays.
The Mean Girls Quote-Along starts at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet, 1400 Main St. Tickets are $12. There will be a short discussion afterward about bullying and body image with The Stars Jeneé Osterheldt and the students of Awesome Ambitions and Rebel. See Drafthouse.com.