‘Mean Girls’ is a teenage film directed by Mark Waters which is the best example in sociology through the socialization, social structure, and group in the movie. It also reflects Marxist theory and the Iron Law of Oligarchy. The movie is about Cady Heron who comes from Africa and was home-schooled by her zoologist parents. Moving to another country and attending a public school is totally strange to her; moreover, it struggles with making new friends while she has no experience in a public school.
First, Marxist theory is the belief that class differentiation is the critical determinant of social, economic, and political inequality which is one major theme in the film. Marx viewed class struggle as the result of the conflict between the groups such as ‘The Plastics’ and the other groups in which the higher class having all the power and the lower class being taken advantage of. ‘The Plastics’ group which is considered a popular group and creating trends for everyone follow includes Regina George, Gretchen Weiners and Karen Smith. They are the most popular in school because they are rich and beautiful.
In that group, Regina George is the Queen Bee and the others are followers. As the beginning of the movie, other students describe her as “glorious”, “her hair insurance costs thousand dollars”, “always wins Queen Spring Fling” ( ‘Mean Girls’, 8:26-8:46). The other is the lower class who is treated unfairly includes Janis and Damian, Asians and so on. Janis said Regina was a life ruiner and she ruined people’s lives; therefore, Janis wants Cady to join in the Plastics to ‘crack’ them. Janis is a model of the lower class who wants social change because they were run over and humiliated by the rich people, and now they want to revolt and change their lives.
Next, groupthink is a phenomenon especially in ‘The Plastics’ which describes clearly in the film that members always follow what Regina says and what she says is always true. In the lunchroom, when Gretchen tells Cady their group rules which Cady thinks ” girl’s world has a lot of rules” (‘Mean Girls’, 13:40) such as wearing jeans only on Friday or ponytail only once a week; moreover, if anyone breaks a rule, they cannot sit with ‘The Plastics’ anymore and have to sit with the ‘Outcast’ which indicates Janis and Damian.
In Regina’s bedroom, the girls look at the mirror and complain about something bad or “weird” about themselves; the way these girls look at Cady force her to say something bad about herself either. Although Cady enters ‘The Plastics’ to crack the girls, groupthink took her to believe she was a ‘Plastics’. The girls think they are the best in their high school when the fact is not; in addition, they also experience a lot of pressure toward unity because they just want to get along and a part of the group. They always follow what Regina wants so that they don’t hurt their friendship. Many times, the other two are silent while Regina makes decisions for the whole because they don’t dare to say the right; this creates an confusion of unity.
‘The Plastics’ can be considered the alpha group in real life, while the omega group is Janis and Damian who are suspected lesbian and gay. The other groups such as ‘Asian Nerds’, ‘Freshman’, ‘Unfriendly’, ‘Rock guys’, and so on are in the between alpha and omega; their social status is how they were named as a group such as their race, characteristics, hobbies. Every individual has particular social roles that when are together which enables to be inequality amongst people. In the movie, the majority of students seem to follow ‘The Plastics’ and want to be popular like them.
Regina considers herself as a leader and she has the right to give the other their social status which she wrote in the Burn Book. When Cady wants to join in Mathematics club, Regina stated that would be “social suicide” in a horrific tone. When everyone is rambling about Regina at the beginning of the movie, which proves that she a high social status at school; while the others are either her victims or highly admire her such as when Ms. Nobury asked if anyone was Regina’s victim, everyone raised their hands. That means there are conflicts between the higher status people and the lower ones. In a sociological aspect, the movie about socialization, social interaction, structure and groups.
At the beginning of the film, Cady is out-group because she does not belong to any group and cannot have a room in any table in the lunchroom. That is the experience alienation which she feels separation and being isolated from everyone; therefore, she has to have lunch in the restroom. Janis is also an example of alienation. Her story with Regina caused her to become isolated from everyone else and was though as a lesbian. The inequality in the film is only Regina’s group have a high social status while everyone else is below them, which lead to the conflict between ‘The Plastics’ and the others.
Last but not least, the Iron Law of Oligarchy applies to Regina and her followers. She rules the other student with an iron fist who was described from flawless to a scum-sucking road whore. In every decision she made were driven by hatred and competition with other girls if it affects her relationship with friends, family or her ex-boyfriend Aaron Samuels. Because of being a leader, Regina wants Gretchen and Karen to always follow her rules even they are right or wrong. Gretchen and Karen obsess over Regina with admiration and jealousy; therefore, they always follow her and do whatever she tells them to do. They accept to lower themselves to fit in the group because they don’t think they have enough good characteristics as Regina.
In short, many perspectives and theories about sociology are found in Mean Girls. This movie really focuses on social interactions, social roles between friends as well as their teachers and parents. The struggle of peer influence and the consistent want to be popular are also illustrated well in this movie. It is interesting how interactions can sculpt a person in a negative or a positive way. Moreover, it is important to understand these perspectives in order to comprehend how the community works in real life.