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‘Mean Girls’ is coming out, and I’m scared

by Gaby Agbulos

WHEN “Mean Girls” was first released in 2004, lives changed. 

Based on Rosalind Wiseman’s book, “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” this film tells the journey of teenager Cady Heron, who’s lived in Africa her entire life and must learn to navigate the complexities of high-school life.

She quickly becomes part of a clique called The Plastics, made up of Karen Smith, Gretchen Wieners, and the queen bee Regina George. 

When Regina wrongs Cady by stealing her crush, Cady starts to get revenge but in doing so becomes exactly what she used to despise. 

While some may look at “Mean Girls” as just another 2000s movie, those of us with taste see it as the iconic film it truly is. It’s a film about love, girlhood, and self-acceptance – how you’ll never be happy in life if you dumb yourself down or make yourself feel smaller to appease those around you. 

The film became a cult classic and even spawned a musical remake in 2020. 

On Friday, January 12, we’ll finally get a remake of the iconic film. It takes place in the present day and uses songs from the musical. 

It’s coming very soon… and I’m a little worried. Let’s discuss why. 

Photo from Paramount Pictures

The fashion

When the first look for The Plastics came out, netizens were less than happy, and understandably so. 

In a Reddit thread posted in October, people commented about how the clothes the girls wore looked like they were straight out of SHEIN, which was exactly how I felt. And after seeing the other trailers, my opinion hasn’t changed.

One of the things that made The Plastics so unique in the first movie is that they were the ones setting the trends. If Regina George were to wear a trash bag to school, girls would follow suit. 

To put the girls in clothing you’d find on any fast-fashion website seems counterproductive, to say the least.

There’s also something about the look of The Plastics that’s effortlessly timeless. No matter the years that have passed, there are still people dressing like Regina George, and they still look good while doing so.

You’re not going to achieve the same effect if you base the entire wardrobe of your characters around microtrends that have come and gone before you’ve even finished filming your movie. 

I understand that fashion isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to “Mean Girls” – and perhaps by focusing on this, I am contributing to the idea that people put too much value on appearance. But in my opinion, that is part of the character that you are trying to recreate. 

To dismiss that aspect may lead some to believe that you don’t fully understand the movie you’re trying to recreate. 

As Fleabag so boldly said, hair is everything. On the other hand, I believe that fashion is everything.

Photo from Paramount Pictures

The film

I love Reneé Rapp. She’s hilarious, she’s gorgeous, and she’s played Regina George on Broadway so many times that she’s nailed this role down to a T. 

I have no qualms with the cast of this film. I do not doubt that they’re all going to eat up the roles that were given to them. 

I do, however, worry about the things that these actors do not have control over – the cinematography and the dialogue, in particular.

If you’ve seen clips of the film like I have, you’ll notice that there were many times that the word “slay” was used. Perhaps, too many times. 

Add to this the fact that TikTok was incorporated into the film, filled with cameos from TikTokers like Chris Olsen. I’m afraid that this will further solidify the new “Mean Girls” solely as a product of its time, instead of its predecessor that stayed relevant despite all the years that had passed. 

Again, if you get too many trends from the present and try to shove them all into one piece of media, then how is this going to fare in 10 years? Or 20? Will people know who any of the people in these cameos are? Will they understand the words being used? Will they care? 

More questions pile on as you limit a film solely to the time that it was made. 

I’m not saying that straightaway makes it a bad film. If you want to add a modern spin to it, sure. Look at the modern remake of Brian de Palma’s “Carrie,” which added the element of social media to the film to further destroy Carrie’s reputation. 

There are ways that this can benefit the film, as long as it’s done in moderation. 

There have also been complaints as to how the film has been shot—that it looks like a straight-to-television knockoff, or even that it was filmed with an iPhone. 

Again, it’s understandable if this film is trying to veer away from the original. This is, after all, a remake of the musical that was a remake of the movie. It’s understandable if they’re going to be making different choices about the style or the cinematography.

Does that, in turn, mean you have to sacrifice quality, as well? 

At the end of the day, “Mean Girls” has yet to come out. All I can hope for is that my concerns about this film are proven wrong as soon as I sit down in the theaters to see it. 

If not, then I’ll just focus on how gorgeous Reneé Rapp is, allowing for her rendition of the song “Someone Gets Hurt” to take me away.

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