Do you enjoy a good story with compelling and memorable heroes and heroines? This monthly column features homeschooled characters in literature and film. Wish you had your own copy of the book or movie? Just click on the product image or text links to go to the author’s site or Amazon to buy it!
First of all, I have to say that the only reason I watched this movie (Mean Girls, 2004, starring Lindsay Lohan) is that in my English 102 class, believe it or not, we had to write a behavioral analysis on mean girls. Remember the classic nursery rhyme that whimsically describes girls as being made of “sugar and spice and everything nice”? Well, in real life that depiction is not necessarily true, as the Mean Girls movie shows. Relational aggression by means of psychological warfare, backstabbing, and gossiping is a common form of underhanded bullying among girls.
While watching the movie, you can’t help but feel sorry for Lindsay Lohan, knowing how mixed-up she’s been in her personal life. Nevertheless, as a child actress, she was homeschooled through Laurel Springs School, the “School of the Stars,” as were other young actors such as Raven Symone, Elijah Wood, and more. Laurel Springs also homeschools many rising star athletes. To become a child actor, performer, or athlete, these students must be able to “take school with them” on their early career endeavors.
Anyway, in Mean Girls, Lohan plays 15-year-old homeschooler Cady Heron. Raised in Africa by her zoologist parents, Cady thinks she knows all about “survival of the fittest.” However, on attending high school for the first time, Cady discovers that public school may be a greater anthropological challenge than even the wildest African plain. It’s kind of interesting how Cady relies on her knowledge of the “law of the jungle” to guide her as she learns to deal with the social hierarchy of different groups. You know, like the Jocks/Cheerleaders, Geeks/Nerds, Emos/Goths, Loners/Outcasts, etc.
Cady becomes friends with the Outsiders, but then she is befriended by The Plastics, the A-list girl clique. That is, until she makes the mistake of falling for a guy named Aaron Samuels. Cady finds out how “wild” things can be in civilization when she crosses paths with one of the meanest species of all, the “Queen Bee.”
Incidentally, Mean Girls is a fictional comedy based on a non-fiction book for parents with no narrative at all! The New York Times bestseller by Rosalind Wiseman is titled Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence. The Times praised the book as “a chilling account of the life our girls navigate in their school lunchrooms and hallways.”
Mean Girls is a movie that can be enjoyed by teens, but it’s not appropriate for children. I even have reservations about recommending this movie to teens, because even though it’s rated PG-13, it contains a lot of offensive material, especially if you are a Christian. (The typical high school comedy stuff such as crude humor, language, sexual references, underage drinking, etc.)
That being said, the situations are similar to what teens face in secular public schools today. And it does contain some positive messages as it addresses the problem of bullying while showing the affects that gossiping and lying can have on people. The overall theme is to treat others well, which is a lesson it takes a while for the characters to learn. But in the end, they do realize the error of their ways and redeem themselves.
Here are some homeschool quotes from the movie:
“I guess it’s natural for parents to cry on their kid’s first day of school. But, you know, this usually happens when the kid is 6. I’m 16, and until today, I was homeschooled.” ~Cady Heron
Regina: Why don’t I know you?
Cady: I’m new. I just moved here from Africa.
Cady: I used to be homeschooled.
Regina: Wait… what?
Cady: My mom taught me at home…
Regina: No, I know what homeschool is, I’m not retarded! So you’ve actually never been to a real school before?
“I had gone from homeschooled jungle freak to shiny Plastic to most hated person in the world to actual human being.” ~Cady Heron
In this clip it’s like they purposely picked the most absurd stereotypes possible, but even if you’re a homeschooler you can’t help but laugh at these far-fetched characterizations:
Mean Girls is a parody of high school life, after all, so don’t take this movie too seriously. Everything in it is slightly exaggerated for comic effect. Still, it paints a realistic picture of what teen girls have to go through in school. So be glad you’re homeschooled!