“On Wednesdays We Wear Pink”: The Best Girl Cliques of Pop Culture

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Paramount

1. The Plastics – Mean Girls

Mean Girls certainly wasn’t the first movie to put a girl clique at the front and centre of the action, but it was the first (unless you count Heathers) to blatantly shine a spotlight on the politics and psychological tactics needed to keep a girl clique up and running – think intimidation, bitchy three-way phone conversations, keeping secrets, burn books and rigid rules around dress and behaviour. That’s because Tina Fey’s screenplay was based on Rosalind Wiseman’s self-help book Queen Bees and Wannabes. The result was comedy gold that often cut a little too close to the bone.

Hierarchy: Janis’ observation that “evil takes a human form in Regina George” wasn’t far off the mark when she described the school’s resident queen bee and if Mean Girls was Game of Thrones, Gretchen Wieners would totally be the hand of the queen. In fact, when there was disturbance in the realm with Regina’s “army of skanks”, Gretchen used another old world battle analogy to vent her frustration: “Why should Caesar get to stomp around like a giant while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? What’s so great about Caesar? Brutus is just as cute as Caesar. OK, Brutus is just as smart as Caesar. People totally like Brutus just as much as they like Caesar. And when did it become OK for one person to be the boss of everybody, huh? Because that’s not what Rome is about! We should totally just stab Caesar!” Karen Smith would be, like, the queen’s servant girl, or something.

Dress Code: The Plastics wore pink on Wednesdays, they couldn’t wear sweatpants on a Monday and let’s not forget how Gretchen was forbidden from wearing gold hoops. Offences were punishable with banishment from their lunch table.

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When Sex and the City Went ‘Splat’

Cynthia Nixon recently admitted to the New York Times that while she’s proud of what Sex and the City did for women, she didn’t like how the first movie linked love and money when Big bought Carrie a penthouse apartment with a customised walk-in closet and, worse, when the audience cheered.

“I remember when we screened the first movie in London, when Mr. Big shows Carrie the closet he’s built for her and the entire audience clapped”, she told the Times. “I found that devastating. Maybe that’s a strong word, but I was disheartened. Because I thought, ‘Is this what women in the audience think true love is? A man who has enough money to buy you a walk-in closet?’”

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hbo.com

Now that Cynthia’s opened the floor to criticism of Sex and the City, I’d like to take the opportunity to talk about how I felt the last few episodes of the series did a massive disservice to all the work the previous seasons did to champion single women and how I, as one of those single women in her late teens/early 20s at the time the show aired, felt betrayed by how the series ended. It is a view I rarely share with others due to the fact that the series finale regularly tops ‘best of’ SATC countdowns and because of a conversation I had with someone years ago who asked me, ‘What? Don’t you like happy endings?’ Yes, of course I like happy endings in general, but why does a happy ending have to be synonymous with a conventional happily-ever-after?

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Best 80s Makeover Movies

Giving Teen Witch the Recognition it Deserves.

First off, I want to thank a now defunct video store on Shepherd’s Way in Perth, Western Australia for stocking an array of teen movies on VHS without which my childhood might have been slightly different. To quote a writer I recently discovered during my internet travels, Robin Hardwick, who recapped an episode of Family Ties for Culture Brats in which Jennifer throws a party, “As a youngster, I was fascinated with any episode show that included (1) a makeover (2) someone getting to be in the popular crowd and (3) awesome outfits. Let’s face it, I was a shallow kid”. Robin, that article spoke to me. Read the article here.

As we celebrate another New Year – that heady mix of nostalgia and the new, where we look back on what we’ve done with our lives at the same time as we plot our fresh start and a different hairstyle – it seems like the perfect excuse for an 80s makeover movie countdown!

She’s Out of Control
Way before She’s All That and the piss-take that was Not Another Teen Movie, geek girl Ami Dolenz made the bold move to take off her glasses. She then went from being head of the class and re-enacting Flashdance’s ‘She’s a Maniac’ in her bedroom to being pursued by boys of all shapes and sizes – we’re talking punks, nerds, a guy in a sailor costume, you name it. The most sinister of all the guys was a pre-Friends Matthew Perry, aka the “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. The one glaring omission from this film was the cool girl clique. I mean, what did everyone at school say when Ami Dolenz basically showed up as a different person? I want answers.

Best outfit: The new Ami’s debut outfit – sheer white knee-highs, a white ra-ra skirt and a frizzy half up-half down do, backlit to full angelic effect. It was an ethereal outfit choice for her slow motion descent of the living room stairs to the sounds of Frankie Avalon’s ‘Venus’.

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Camp as Christmas Turkeys

“It’s turkey time – gobble, gobble”. No, we’re not talking about your Christmas dinner here. These words were immortalised by J.Lo in Gigli, a film that is commonly known – somewhat poetically – as one of the biggest cinematic turkeys of all time.

That crown, from what the blogosphere tells me, has now been snatched by Lindsay Lohan’s latest effort Liz & Dick. I’m set to watch this tele-movie treat for my birthday on Boxing Day so, in anticipation, I’ve revived my countdown of fat, juicy, camp as Christmas turkeys, originally published for GaydarRadio.com back in 2010. Where will the lovely Lilo fit when I’ve seen her car-crash (pun-intended) of a film? Watch this space!

Gigli
It’s difficult enough to pronounce the title of this movie, let alone actually watch it. Ben Affleck stars as a hitman with a heart of gold hired to kidnap a Baywatch-obsessed disabled man. Jennifer Lopez plays a lesbian, but it turns out that she is the type of lesbian Hollywood dreams are made of – she sleeps with men and talks dirty, using turkey analogies to do so, it seems.

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Swept Away
I know all the words to the songs in Evita and I own a copy of Who’s That Girl. To put it another way, I’m not some fair-weather Madonna fan who claims to love her when ‘Give it 2 Me’ comes out only to disown her when ‘Celebration’ comes along. But I can’t argue with, well, pretty much everyone when they say Swept Away is a steaming hot pile of… turkey.

Madonna plays Amber, a Material Biatch on a cruise with her husband, but Goldie Hawn in Overboard she ain’t. Madge finds herself marooned on a desert island with Guiseppe, the cabin boy she treated like garbage, or her brother Christopher Ciccone if you believe his autobiography. What follows is a near-rape scene, some truly atrocious acting from Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s career being swept away much like Amber and Guiseppe. This is almost as bad as Madonna’s big screen effort with her first ex-husband, which conveniently brings us to…

Shanghai Surprise
Sean Penn stars as an Indiana Jones-type fortune hunter looking for a fast track out of China, while Madonna is a virginal missionary nurse seeking the curing powers of opium for her patients. Don’t laugh – this movie actually got made, which is perhaps the biggest “suprise” of them all.

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