Thursday, January 11, 2024

About Mean Girls (and mean girls)

The new movie Mean Girls (which is in fact the film version of the stage musical of the old movie Mean Girls) would appear to have been stripped of its, well, meanness. 

“If we really had people speak to each other the way they spoke to each other in 1990, everyone would go to the hospital,” says screenwriter Tina Fey, although whether she means it would provoke actual fisticuffs, or that Gen Z-ers are so fragile that verbal hostility might provoke a full-on breakdown, isn’t so clear. But then she seizes on what’s really changed, and what hasn’t: “People are still horrible, they're just more likely to anonymously type it. I would like to take but not teach a graduate school class on the ways in which people are just as divisive and horrible as they ever were, but now they couch it in virtue.” In other words, people are still reassuringly vile but maybe not in a way that transfers so easily to celluloid.

But it’s not just nastiness we need to be warned about. For a forthcoming show at Stratford East, we are alerted to “themes of joy, loss and grief”. I wonder whether you can experience so much joy it puts you in the hospital.

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