2024 Mean Girls Review| Sorry, just having a pink look won't save it

2024 Mean Girls was released amid much anticipation, but unfortunately, it didn't turn out to be a good watch.

I say so, not simply because I'm a fan of the original film. Quite the contrary, I believe the failure of this movie lies in its excessive faithfulness to the original, without making the necessary adaptations to reflect the characteristics of this era.

Let's think back, what made Mean Girls a cult film of the millennial generation? Besides the female protagonists who reflect the characteristics of the era, I think the most important thing is that the movie portrays the cruelty of school life, which is a microcosm of the cruelty of human society.

Let's simplify the story's plot: Cady, the main character, is a white girl who grew up in Africa and hasn't had a typical education. She's new to the culture and is struggling to fit into school life. The real pressure for the girls isn't from mean individuals, but from a system that values physical attractiveness. That’s why they compete with each other in beauty, fashion, and popularity. Even though Cady starts to question this culture, it doesn't change the harsh rules. The next generation of girls continues to act mean under the social pressures that are always there.

The "Mean" in Mean Girls not only points to individuals but also to the cruel part of high school culture: a gradually emerging discipline imposed on individuals by gender and class hierarchy.

Mean Girls 2004

Mean Girls is a dark comedy veiled in a pink exterior. Beneath the girlish beauty and pink imagery hide the harsh themes at its core. Disappointingly, 2024 Mean Girls only replicates this exterior.

Not that there isn’t anything new at all. The girls are heavier, seemingly counter body shaming prevalent in millennial dramas. The queens still diet, but the standard of a good shape has evolved.

High school students use TikTok, but the movie fails to illustrate the deep impact of social media on teenagers' lives. It overlooks the online spread of hate and divisiveness and their impacts on youth.

Mean Girls 2024

What disappoints me the most is it fails to address the prevailing societal atmosphere of misogyny. How could a film of our time about women's self-identity that targets a female audience overlook the evolution of feminism? The original Mean Girls in some way approached gender issues and the new adaptation could have gone further on that basis.

A quote from the original, "Regina’s like the Barbie doll I never had," highlights the stereotypes constraining women. Regina's allure and despair aren't simply personal choices — they're dictated by her surroundings. In such a context, there will always be Regina. In conclusion, protagonist Cady uncovers the reality of the Barbie lifestyle as she matures, an implicit challenge to misogynistic culture.

Ideally, the 2024 Mean Girls would delve deeper into the characters' personalities from a feminist standpoint. Let's say, the political trend of multiple gender identities, does it shake the female self-gaze that is standardised by heterosexual male aesthetics? Is involuntary singleness, as a form of terrorism, recognised among adolescents? In an era when the economy is no longer booming, how do teenagers respond to the impending pressures of life?

Mean Girls 2024

I'm not asking for a movie to have a profound expression on any of these issues, but at least let me see that these characters are relevant to teenagers in real life. Instead, it merely rehashes a two-decade-old story. It feels like a millennial is attempting to portray Generation Z's life through cinematic creation. Ultimately, it only grasps the Y2K nostalgia symbolized by Barbie pink, overlooking the contemporary anxieties and expectations of young people, particularly young women.

Come on, it's 2024 now. As female viewers, we should perhaps be more sensitive. When watching stories about women, we have the right to higher demands, refusing to narrowly define Barbie pink as an expression of a stereotyped female temperament. We refuse to interpret Mean Girls as merely representative of psychologically immature teenage girls. We refuse to continue to vaguely express ourselves with the standards of the olden days.

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