The primary legitimation one finds in conservative circles for the Republican-led politics of personal greed is Darwin. We are all self-interested creatures, and we work best when we are left alone to compete with one another, the invisible hand guiding us toward pareto-optimal happiness. But is it really true that nature turns men into panting phallocentric dogs and girls into cat-fighting bitches? Just as the war-promoting George W. Bush knows nothing of war, having dodged not only the draft but even his required service in the Texas Air National Guard, the cloistered girls of Mean Girls know nothing of how nature really works. It is Cady who knows real cruelty, and thus Cady who knows that should be avoided at all costs. Stopping being mean to girls would mean admitting the 'girl' inside everyone, including our blustery, desperately-seeking-machismo leaders - and that is too frightening a prospect for such insecure men to face.
Of course, both Cady and Mean Girls have the odds stacked in their favour. As a "regulation hottie" things are pretty easy for Cady, and as a film with high production values things are likewise pretty easy for the regulation funny Mean Girls with its cluster of recognizable actors. The odds are not usually so helpful. As with so many things in the USA, and apparently at high schools, the final seal of approval is provided by a popularity contest despite all the rhetoric to the contrary. Whether it's the market of public opinion (Cady becomes the Spring Fling Queen), or the box office, Mean Girls, Fey, and Cady all hope to win, and it is still not clear what, and who they are prepared to jettison to get there. Still, if undermining viciousness, and emphasizing the compassion and solidarity needed to get through high school life as a woman can help freshman girls resist the understanding of life as a jungle perhaps it's a good start.
The Zeek interview
What my grandmother's suffering teaches
How I Finally Learned to Accept Christ in my Heart
Hyatt Regency Dead Sea Resort
Josh Breaks his Finger
Mean to Girls
Our 450 Back Pages
Zeek in Print
Spring/Summer 2004 issue now on sale!
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From previous issues:
Harvard Death Fugue:
The Exploitation of Bruno Schultz
Prof. James Russell
The Truth about the Rosenbergs
Far from Heaven: Excavating Paradise