I had the pleasure of having my all time favorite movie Mean Girls (2004) as one of the options for this assignment. I never really watched the movie from a psychology standpoint, and seeing the stereotypes, discrimination and prejudice within the movie. I always watched for the comedy, and the over exaggerated view of high school.
First off mean girls about a girl named “Cady Heron whose parents being zoologists, homeschooled Cady Heron lived in Africa for 15 years. Attending a Chicago public high school for the first time, she starts out by befriending the “best people you will meet”, Janis, a supposedly lesbian girl; and Damian, a boy “too gay to function”. Cady is warned to avoid the “worst people you will ever meet”, the Plastics–a clique comprised of three girls: Gretchen Wieners, a girl who’s rich because her father invented toaster strudel; Karen Smith, the “dumbest girl you will ever meet”; and Regina George, the unofficial leader and the meanest one. She becomes a hit with the Plastics and eventually assimilates into the clique, only for Janis to ask her sabotage them. After conflicts involving Regina’s ex-boyfriend, Aaron Samuels, Cady later becomes tied between being part of them or sabotaging them. Eventually becoming one, she sabotages them.
She tricks Regina into eating fattening candy bars that she claims will make her skinny, tries to break her and Aaron up, and tries to turn her fellow Plastics, Karen and Gretchen against her,”(http://www.imdb.com). Regina ends up finding everything out and exploding, She sought revenge, and she ended up causing chaos among all the girls in the junior class. Through a group school required activity and a moving speech at a school dance, things turned around for everyone in the end. Cady realized she needed to be her own person, Janis and Damian let go of old angry, Regina let out her angy through sports, and for the other two plastics, Karen and Gretchen, Karen found joy in being a weather girl and Gretchen fell into another clique.
Moving down the line the biggest relationship between the movie and psychology is stereotypes. It is clear throughout the entire movie, from the first five minutes that the comedy behind the movie is based on stereotyping throughout. First let me define what is stereotyping “an idea that is used to describe a particular type of person or thing, or a person or thing thought to represent such an idea,”(cambridge.org).
You can see stereotyping not even ten minutes into the movie, when Cady went to her first day of high school. The principal announced to the class that they had a new student from Africa. The teacher who was, white, looked at a african american student and said welcome.
The student said she was from Michigan and the principal said her name was Cady, attention was redirected to Cady who is white. This is a clear example of stereotyping in the rudest form at that. It is stereotyping because in that teachers mind only black people can be from Africa, really showed how closed minded she was in that moment. As I continued watching the movie other stereotypes became very vivid to me.
Pushing forward to a lunch scene, the narrator begins to describe different cliques according to table. The behavior was over exaggerated, when you think jock, you think dumb wild child trying to prove their toughness. When you think big girls, you think over emotional girls who eat in order to deal with their “depression” . Now imagine all theses stereotypes of people hightend times ten in this movie. The stereotyping within this movie leads into a overall outlook of high school, that high school is full of “Whispering, snickering, gossiping…exclusive lunch tables and derogatory insults…boyfriend stealing, backstabbing, and bullying,”(wordpress.com). It truly speaks volumes to how high school is viewed as well as how high school girls treat each other.
Moving into the second highest aspect of this movie is the level of discrimination in this movie and why it is so much throughout the movie. For one discrimination is “treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit,”(dictionary.com).
The first big overall example of discrimination is the view the plastics have on pretty much everyone else. Making comments like “joining the mathletes is social suede”, (Mean Girls,2004); I don’t recall when being intelligent is wrong. Discrimination only benefits one party while mentally harming others. Discrimination is becoming more and more present today and is so common it also seems to be okay for the generations 2000 and up. This aspect of discrimination is actually shown in Mean Girls, when the plastics had something and other girls didn’t. In their mind, they viewed themselves as less than, so to cope, girls would try to get what they had in order to feel equal to the plastics. It’s actually sad, because instead of being leaders, the girls chose to follow. Finally I am going to discuss the three main girls in the film that make up the plastics and how all three display Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
First of all Narcissistic Personality Disorder is “a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration,” (psychologytoday.com) and individuals who have this disorder tend to be arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. All four of those examples including the definition describe all three girls (Gretchen, Karen, Regina ) as having the disorder.
Regina has NPD clearly and is best reflected by her constant need of admiration, which she receives not only from Karen and Gretchen, but from many other students who seem to idolize her. While Gretchen knows she is a beautiful girl, she feels the need to say it out loud, with comments like “I can’t help it that i’m pretty”, or “I shouldn’t be punished for being well liked”. Gretchen has no sympathy for other people or how they feel and she honestly doesn’t care, she shows no sign by the end of the movie of changing. Karen the slowest of plastics tends to show no sympathy by laughing at everything because nothing is serious to her.
All three girls throughout the movie tend to make every conversation about them. So analyzing this entire movie, made me view the movie completely differently. I used to just see it as easy comedy, nothing to serious about it. Actually breaking the movie down and looking at it piece by piece. I now see that there is a purpose behind the movie itself and it was told in order to teach.
By that I mean, there is a overall message behind the movie, which is to be yourself and don’t allow outside people influence your way of life.