Mean Girls: A microcosm of the fallen world

Posted: November 1, 2011 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Comedy, Drama
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Let’s “spin the reel” back to 2004, to a Lindsay Lohan classic: Mean Girls. Now I know what you’re thinking: Why waste time on a Lindsay Lohan movie (other than maybe The Parent Trap) considering what sort of person she has become? Or, maybe just the adolescent PG-13 material itself demands that Christians should stay away from such a film. Well, let me be so bold to suggest that Mean Girls should be mandatory viewing for all middle/high school girls and their parents–if I just had the authority to require such a thing!

Mean Girls follows the life of Cady Heron (Lohan), a 16 year old homeschooler who goes to “real school” for the first time a a Junior in high school. Trying to navigate her way through this brave new world, she goes from being a nobody, to becoming friends with “outsiders,” to becoming one of the “Plastics” (the most fashionable clique), regressing to a nerdy “mathlete,” and then ultimately becoming her own person. In the process, the entire “girl world” of the high school is rocked to its core, as the evil underbelly of gossip, revenge, malicious slander, and deep bitterness is exposed.

With so much to discuss and so little space (more posts from others later), I’ll focus on just one important theme: The high school as a microcosm of this fallen world. The word “microcosm” literally means “a little world”–and the high school depicted in Mean Girls is just that. Various clannish cliques of teenagers are either actively at war with one another or simply trying to survive. Enter into this microcosm an “innocent” homeschooler who is convinced that she can live, participate, end even thrive in this world, yet ends up becoming shaped, molded, and corrupted by it. Even though there is a level of redemption in the end for Cady (complete with getting the boy of her dreams), the larger message is that the world of high school will eat you up, spit you out, and ultimately transform you into a “mean girl.”

Now, viewing this movie may just convince you to keep your daughter out of public school. Or, it may give you the false comfort that your daughter’s Christian school or church youth group is a much safer microcosm, devoid of such worldliness. But the reality is that all of our daughters (even homeschooled ones) are living in this fallen world, just like the rest of us. And, they have real opportunities every day to live in this world, but not become of it.

But let’s make it a bit more specific and personal, especially if you are either a teenage girl or a parent of one. If your church youth group or Christian school is eerily similar to the world of Mean Girls, are you okay with that? Or maybe worse, are you actually contributing to making it that way? If you aren’t a part of the problem, are you just accepting that “reality,” (since we are all sinners, of course) or are you actively seeking something better? If you are a parent of a teenage girl, are you like Cady’s naive parents with little connection to what’s happening in her world, or like Regina George’s mother who actually encourages the lifestyle of her “Plastic” daughter?

As redeemed sinners, Christians are called to be actively pushing against the worldliness and destruction of this culture, as salt and light for King Jesus. Christian parents are to be training their children how to both deal with the temptations of this world as well as to become something different. And, groups of Christian young people, in the school and the youth group, are compelled to band together to produce microcosms of God’s Kingdom in the midst of this fallen world.

If all of this sounds too idealistic, and in your mind the world of Mean Girls is just the way it is, then you don’t really understand the power of the gospel, or the truth of Romans 12:2 for that matter: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Let the world of Mean Girls propel us forward into the spiritual battle that will continue to rage until Christ returns!


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