Born and raised by her parents on an expedition in Africa, Cady Heron in Mean Girls, a satire on high school culture, was born far from western culture. It was only at the age of fifteen, when her parents returned to America and enrolled her into high school. In an unknown world, she had a hard time adjusting to school life. Janis and Damian, whom are close friends, helped her out the first few days. They told her about the school layout, life, and social groups; especially warning her about the “Plastics” and their “Queen B”, Regina.
Cady Heron is brought into this culture when she is called by Regina to join her for lunch. Against Janis and Damian’s warning, she joins them and is brought into the culture of “Plastics.” This culture is composed of talking about people behind their back, complementing others on ugly pieces of clothing, and asking about how they look. As she only hangs out with them to gain information for Janis to try to sabotage Regina’s social status, she slowly begins to fade into this culture and becomes what she was trying to disrupt. She goes from a nice, innocent girl to an impolite schemer that destroys Regina’s reputation. She also manages to lose her friendship with Janis and Damian.
When Regina finds out that Cady has been sabotaging her for the last couple of months, she puts her self in a book, which insults all the girls in their school, to make it look like Cady made the book. After showing this to the principle, she then photocopies all the pages and tosses the pages around the school, causing all the girls in the school to go into an animalistic riot. This causes a giant assembly to form where Janis, still upset with Cady, reveals the entirety of the plan to Regina about ruining her life like she did hers. This cause Regina to storm outside while Cady tries to apologize. However while Regina is calling Cady out about her not being innocent, a bus hits her. This leaves Regina hospitalized and Cady accused of pushing Regina into the bus, which she did not. With everything around her going badly, she takes responsibility for the book, started by Regina, and takes the punishment. This does not redeem her, but her moment at the dance did.
At Spring Fling, a dance by the school, Cady is brought there, after she makes up with her math teacher, and is about to accept the consequences for leaving while being grounded, for her parents are there looking for her. Then she is crowned the Queen of Spring Fling. She then proceeds to give a speech (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_mldpjy1mg) about how everyone is competing and stressing out about a plastic crown. She then breaks the crown and tosses the pieces into the audience. This redeems her and makes everyone more accepting of each other and almost eliminating the hate of the socialization of the high school. Cady is a valid heroine in this sense because she does go into unknown territory to defeat an evil, and returns her reward to the people.
To further analyze Cady, the parallels between Feminist Criticism and the film should be noticed. Feminist Criticism is the literary analysis of female portrayal in literature. This is not a spinoff of feminism, but a more analytical view of women in stories. Socialisation (as written in Barry’s Beginning Theory) in female literature is concentrated on the role models for males and females. This is shown in Mean Girls through the scenes when other students are thinking about Regina in the beginning. Everybody involved talked positively about her. Therefore she sets the trend for the women attending the high school by being “flawless” and the one person everyone wants to be. She even punches someone and the girl said, “It was awesome.” Thus showing how Regina can do whatever she wants, because every girl wants to be like her and the stereotypical socialsation of women. This inspires Cady’s goal to balance the social structure through out the movie. Keep in mind that’s inside the movie, not outside. Outside the movie would still show socialisation because Cady still falls into the “appearance stereotype” part of it. Hollywood pitches an “ideal image” when casting for any movie role. This unfortunately means a generalized image for teenage girls. Though the movie has some girls that break this image, it mainly focuses on the people that make this image. Showing a possible problem that only pretty people can do what she did. In conclusion, the socialisation of feminist criticism applies heavily is critical to understand for the context of this movie.
Another important concept to understand for this movie is Postcolonialism. Postcolonialism is another literary analysis based on the social interactions of civilizations after they were established. This is relevant to Cady because she is living in a culture different than the one she grew up in. So she is living through the Postcolonial concepts known as Adopt, Adapt, and Adept. Adopt is the phase where the rules of society are taught to the main character. This is shown in the scene when Janis and Damian tell her about the school, because they are literally telling her how the school works. Adapt is the phase when the character is adjusting to these rules or way of living in the society. This is demonstrated when Cady is slowly turning into a “Plastic” after hanging out with Regina and her posse, because she is adjusting to the group stereotype after hanging around them for a while. Then there is Adept where the character is able to identify themselves within the society. Cady symbolizes this phase when she breaks the crown of the Spring Fling and goes to make amends with Janis and Damian, because those are the people she identifies most with and enjoys. Hereby showing the significance of postcolonialism in American High School culture.
Why is this significant? Mean Girls maybe a satire, but most of us can see the relevance of the movie everywhere. From High school to college, the social trends made fun of can be seen in everyday interactions. Several people whom went to high school have related the movie in someway to their experience in school. Sure not all high schools are like that, but there still are some “Plastics” and social groups that people can identify. This makes Cady significant is the fact that she starts out figuring out where she belongs in the society, which is a common story that everybody has. Then she becomes this whole other entity that everybody hates while going through this process. Then when she has the crown, the grand prize, she realizes that it wasn’t worth all this drama and breaks the crown. Her breaking of the crown symbolizes an equalization of these groups, and that everybody is the queen in their own way. Relating back to the feminist and postcolonialism, through becoming Adept in the society of High School, she realizes the monstrous socialisation and tries to break everyone free of it. In summary her heroism is shown in her actions, guilt and attempts to make up for her actions. All those make her a realistic heroine that people can relate to.