Monday, 17 February 2014

Cinematic Knowledge: Mean Girls

I'm resuscitating an old piece on this Monday, but it's applicable.

In two months Tina Fey's Mean Girls, a comedy which has defined the aughts at least retrospectively if all the references to it mean anything, will be ten years old. And it's still full of witty bon-mots to share, even if the wit is sometimes trite. But, when has triteness of delivery ever truly curtailed knowledge? In whatever form, trite or unusual, movies can teach usl Now, of course, much of this knowledge can descend into the trite or clichéd but as Violet Wister said wisely, in 2012, The hundred, perhaps thousands of such clichés and hackneyed expressions that our language has bequeathed us are a stunning treasure trove of human insight and knowledge.

And, I’m going for the gut of clichéd with the forthcoming.
The moral of Mean Girls does emerge in that potentially hackneyed way of voice-over messages, but it's no less significant. Cady finally realises why being part of the Plastics has been debilitating to her as she enters the final round of her Matheletes journey.
 And, okay, fine. They go for the easy joke in having poor Clare Preuss have be dressed as this really weird looking homely girl, but it gets the point across...

 “Miss Caroline Kraft seriously needed to pluck her eyebrows. Her outfit looked like it was picked out by a blind Sunday school teacher. And she had some ninety-nine cent lip-gloss on her snuggle tooth. And, that’s when I realised. Making fun of Caroline Kraft wouldn’t stop her from beating me in this contest.

...more below on the lesson Cady learns, and how it's relevant for movie lovers right now...

Contestants, find the limit of this equation.
Calling someone fat wouldn’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And, ruining Regina George’s life really didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.”
And, really, I love Tina’s screenplay (so much fun, smart, irreverent without being mean, etc) but that bolded bit is a hackneyed expression if I ever heard one. And, therein lies the point. Violet is right, clichéd or not Cady’s monologue oozes with obvious wisdom. Which brings me to the reason for this particular entry. We're well into February, but we're at this odd place in the online movie-world where we're looking at what 2014 has to offer us but still looking back at what 2013 delivered. And with 13 days left to the Oscars the year 2013 has not been exorcised from our minds as yet. Those who have not already done so may be pondering on favourites, or ranking the nominees, seeing their last of 2013 films. Maybe even making our lists, checking it twice and heading back to ensure that we see all the movies we could. And, sure, we’ll be betting on our horses and hoping for the best. But, and allow me to get annoyingly preachy  – as is my wont at times – there’s no need to destroy the things we don’t love in a quest to make things we do seem more lustrous.

There’s this trend (and, hell, I’m not blameless – we’ve all done it at some point) where we become affronted that X film is being praised when Y film isn’t even a blip on anyone’s radar. (In 2009 I wondered, What’s the deal with everyone going gaga over the allegedly adorable boy-child in Up when an entire film of meticulously crafted children, see Coraline was just getting mentioned by the way.) Really, it’s a thing we can’t avoid. We realise what our favourites are by comparing them to the competition. Still, when the most recent trend seems to be going about its business by stressing how unbelievable it is that X can be on anyone’s best-of list when it’s such a thoroughly pedestrian film and so inferior to Y, I sort of get exasperated. That’s really not the avenue we should be taking in participating in film criticism. Allow me to harangue you, but in the move to fête our favourites let us not try to diminish the favourites of others who disagree.

(My 2013 in review begins with looking back at some Forgotten Characters this week.)

And that is all for this revived round if Cinematic Knowledge.

Lesson Learned: Self explanatory, right? (Previous cinematic lessons taught include bits from Atonement; 21 Jump Street; The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings; Moulin Rouge and The Departed)

So, Mean Girls teaches you don't injudiciously tear down the opinions of others to valdidate our own.

And, who are we to disobey Tina Fey?

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