September 17, 2014

Ditch the Labels: Mean Girls (2004)


In high school, I was the kind of person that knew both popular and not so popular kids. Even as a kid, I always felt that everybody has something to contribute and I was the kind of person that looked past the superficiality of the high school experience; even while I was there. Besides, if I wasn't as friendly then, I would have never realized that I liked the Cranberries or Oasis, for example. Although technically, my group of friends were probably labeled something, I'm just not sure what, we generally got along with virtually everyone (including each other), which was kind of a bit of an anomaly in and of itself since we were made up of such diverse racial and ethnic groups. I'd like to think we represented something great, namely a living example that when you ditch the labels, awesome relationships can be forged.

The movie Mean Girls (2004), is a perfect example, in my opinion, of why it is so important and healthy for us to ditch the labels in our own lives. From the beginning of the movie, Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) is plagued with the labeling disease after being introduced to labeling by her new friends. Even though she was home schooled and wasn't quite used to many of the social norms among her age group, she learned quickly to label various groups of her peers on her high school campus (starting with her own group of friends) and especially her fake friends, "the plastics."

Like my high school, there were all these groups that primarily associated with members of their own group or click: the jocks, the nerds, the cook kids, the drama club, band geeks, etc. And while I was able to to successfully avoid any backlash as I moved amongst the various groups in my high school, mostly because I wasn't that popular; for Cady, it wasn't so easy as she had a different agenda from the start. Her main priority was to become one of "the plastics" in an effort to take down the leader, Regina George (Rachel McAdams) in an attempt at revenge for one of her new friends, Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan). The only problem was that instead of continuing to influence them for the better, as she initially did with her fresh views of life since she spent much of her youth growing up in Africa, she allowed some of their not-so-nice ways to influence her behavior, which included making fun of members of the other groups around school...people whom she didn't even know.

In the end, Cady realized the damage that she and her classmates were inflicting on each other by labeling/judging and that doing so was particularly devastating because, as you may know, even if you are interested in a particular thing, that one thing does not and should not define you as a person. You see, what I know for sure is that we are all complex beings and labeling is often inaccurate and limiting with respect to describing who we are and want to be.

2 comments:

  1. Lord I hated High school and sure enough they were full of tribes who hated it each other. HS would have been more enjoyable without the labels.

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  2. So true, yet at the same time, there is really no escaping that mindset as most of us have already learned: you never really leave high school.

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