How ‘Mean Girls’ Changed My Life

I know exactly what you’re thinking… “What?! ‘Mean Girls’, the Lindsay Lohan movie? I thought Joe was a man’s man, a grizzly, manly specimen of humanity.”

Well you’re wrong anyways about me being grizzly and rugged. But, yes, I am talking about the LiLo movie. And I am about to tell you how it changed my life. But first, the obligatory quick recap for those with better taste in movies who haven’t seen ‘Mean Girls’.

Here’s the synopsis from Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) has just returned to the United States with her parents after growing up in Africa. Cady is a teenager, who has been home schooled her whole life. Her first day in class as the new girl will be her first encounter with the public school system. As the new girl, where will she fit in? Cady first makes friends with two geeks (Daniel Franzese and Lizzy Caplan). Then she makes friends with the most popular and beautiful girls in the school, known as `The Plastics’ (Lacey Chabert, Rachel McAdams, and Amanda Seyfried). Cady wants to fit in and now she has friends from two different worlds. To keep them as friends she must do things she has never done before, such as being deceitful, scheming, and finally untrustworthy. She discovers who her real friends are in the end.

What that synopsis leaves out is that one of the two geeks was hurt in the past by Rachel McAdams’ character, and wants to get revenge by destroying her life. Cady starts by ‘infiltrating’ the Plastics, but ends up becoming just like them, alienating her geeky friends. After lying to her parents, getting drunk at a party, and blowing off her geeky friend Janis’ art show, Cady is at a crossroads. The Plastics kept a ‘burn book’ where they wrote down mean things about everyone in the school, teachers and staff included. After the burn book becomes public Cady takes responsibility for it and begins her transformation back into an actual human being. That transformation comes to fruition at a math competition (did I mention anywhere that Cady is a math whiz?).

After all the regulation rounds of competition, Cady’s school and their opponents are tied. In the sudden-death elimination round, Cady is matched up against Caroline Krafft, the uber-nerdy, bow-legged, snaggletoothed, ugly Marymount mathlete. In that moment, Cady realizes an important truth – that making fun of how Caroline Krafft is dressed, or her poor makeup, or bad hair, or glasses, or how ugly she is, will not help her in any way to win the math competition. She realizes in that moment that she and Krafft are equals.

I had a ‘Mean Girls’ moment this morning. While sitting in my usual coffee shop, I overheard two older ladies having a loud discussion that was all over the map. From time to time they turned to theological issues and, to be frank, their discussion was very uninformed. Much of what they were saying was the kind of stuff you read in chain emails from well-meaning Christians who are nevertheless nearly clueless when it comes to Christian doctrine.

In my ‘Mean Girls’ moment, I made fun of these ladies in my mind. And what is worse, I tweeted about it, which means that everyone I’m friends with on Facebook also saw it. To those of my friends who read those posts this morning, I’m sorry that you saw that side of me. To those two ladies, if you ever read this, please know that I’m sorry for making fun of you, and I genuinely valued the portions of your conversation about families/nationalities, and tattoos. I fully recognize, like Cady, that poking fun at you doesn’t make me better than you in any way. In fact, the opposite is true. I’m truly sorry.

Okay, enough confession for now. Seriously, if you haven’t seen ‘Mean Girls’, you should. It is both an interesting look into teenage culture and ‘Girl World’, as the movie calls it, and a pretty good morality tale.



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