Bondi Beach, Sydney, NSW c. 2002

Thu, 15 Dec 2005 8:57 PM (GMT+0000)

I love Mean Girls. I love the movie and I love catty, backstabbing, fingernail-clawing bitches. Well, I loved the movie right up until the middle of the 16th chapter, when Rachel McAdams gets hit by a school bus. Oops, was that a spoiler? That was the point at which my Netflix DVD was scratched and was horribly unplayable. Coincidentally, it was also the point at which the movie started to suck. I wish I hadn't had them send me a replacement copy and I could have stayed in awe of its pure and layered perfection.

I never got caught up in the Lindsay Lohan craze of 2004; I'm not exactly in touch with pop culture. Hell, I'm practically the Onion Area Man. Having seen this movie I can understand what it was about, though, you dirty, dirty bastards. She was only 17! Alright, I guess I'm dirty, too. But what the hell happened to Lacey Chabert? Wasn't she the kid in Party of Five?

I digress. Seeing this movie the second time, the flaws are a little more obvious. The first time you see a movie, you don't know what to look for. You follow the director's lead. Then the second time through you start to see other things. There are two forward references to bus accidents. There are discontinuities, like a cut from one camera angle with a smiling Lindsay Lohan to a different angle with a serious one. Lazy.

Maybe I was expecting a little too much from a film that was spawned from the disappointing SNL braintrust. To its credit, I didn't even know who was behind it even when Tim Meadows showed his goofy ass on-screen until I started doing a little reading after my DVD player gave up. I suppose I'm a little out of touch with SNL these days, too, but unlike what I remember of the last few times I saw it, this movie doesn't miss a joke. It's not trying too hard to be funny. It doesn't stretch already bad material until it's painfully thin. Tim Meadows is a genius.

I also liked that up until the accident, it steered totally clear of typical high school movie cliches. When girls manipulated each other, it worked (I think they're born knowing how to do it). When they tried to set up complicated schemes for revenge, they didn't get it right the first few times, and that seems believable, too. It also had a metaphor that I really liked: the jungle animal instinct. Being homeschooled in Africa was not just a cheap and pointless plot device.

I have a favorite scene. It's probably better in my head now than it ever was in the movie or will be if I try to describe it. McAdams is posed in the lunchroom at the Plastics' table with the featureless Man Candy by her side. Lohan arrives, giving McAdams the cue to begin taunting her with shameless PDA. In her head (and mine), she imagines how she would act if she was in Africa. All in the same instant her hands curl wickedly into claws, she bares her fangs, screams her jungle cat rowl, and jumps the table. She tackles McAdams, creating a tangle of long overmanaged hair, pale naked legs, fingernails, and flailing arms. Breasts struggle in the confines of lace bras and tight, revealing shirts. Lohan straddles McAdams, groin to groin. Eyes flash lightning and raw, sexual viciousness. God damn it's hot.

I don't know that anyone can truly understand the male fascination with lesbians. Is there some evolutionary advantage to our attraction to girl-on-girl? It defies logic. If we're driven to reproduce, why would we be so attracted to something that by definition means that we're not getting any? Maybe the second brain is so self-centered that it thinks that two girls getting it on are only passing the time waiting for a man to come and take over.

I think I understand our obsession with catfights, though. It is one of those rare times that we witness women enslaved by their true animal natures. Women fight over men. Women want men that other women have, even if they never wanted them when they were single. It's an irrepressible natural instinct. To us, any fight over anything at all translates in the second brain to a fight over us. I'm not ashamed to say that I love the idea of women fighting over me. I love it when women are bitches to each other. And I understand why.

I don't think this movie was particularly insightful about what high school is really like. It couldn't even escape the typical stereotypes. But it was dead-on about how girls treat each other and even more clever about how close we all still are to the jungle.


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