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.
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’.