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Cady a Monster?

Essay by   •  October 23, 2017  •  Book/Movie Report  •  2,465 Words (10 Pages)  •  762 Views

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Nicole Wasco

In analyzing Mean Girls a few things became apparent. First, Cady is a monstrous figure due to the boundaries she consistently crosses. Second, Cady is Regina’s double causing her ultimate demise at the end of the movie. Finally, it portrays the school as a cybernetic system with the smallest unit being the clicks. In order to analyze these I will be pulling from a variety of texts; Mary Douglas’s Purity and Danger, Sigmund Freud’s The ‘Uncanny’ and Andrew Ure’s Philosophy of Manufactures.

Mary Douglas’s Purity and Danger is a great text to help analyze the monstrous. Her ideas about dirt specifically are imperative to understanding the monstrous.  “Dirt is matter out of place” (Douglas, 47), it helps us understand cultural boundaries and order.  

We should now force ourselves to focus on dirt. Defined in this way is appears as a residual category, rejected from our normal scheme of classifications.  In trying to focus on it we run against our strongest mental habit. For it seems that whatever we perceive as organized into patterns for which we, the perceivers, are largely responsible… It is generally agreed that all our impressions are schematically determined from the start. (Douglas, 45)  

 It also determines that cultures values and what is important to them. These are important determinations as all cultures are different and knowing the values boundaries and organizational structures are very important to understand it. This also brings up deeper into the concept of dirt and the consequences of it.

To deal with dirt first. In the course of any imposing of order, whether in the mid or in the external world, the attitude to rejected bits and pieces goes through two stages. First they are recognizably out of place, a threat to good order, and so are regarded as objectionable and vigorously brushed away. At this stage whey have some identity: they can be seen to be unwanted bits of whatever it was it was they came from, hair or food or wrappings. This stage at which they are dangerous; their half identity still clings to them and the clarity of the scene in which they obtrude is impaired by their presence. But a long process of pulverizing, dissolving and rotting awaits any physical things that have been recognized as dirt. In the end, all identity is gone. (Douglas 197)

This helps us understand how dirt becomes part of an organizational structure. Proving that dirt doesn’t have to remain dirt it can acclimate to society. This is extremely useful in our understanding of monsters not just based on cultural differences of monsters but them as a whole. Monsters are the same as dirt thought they are beings out of place rather than matter. It is also imperative to determine what causes them to be out of place in order to understand them.

The ideas of the double in Freud’s “The Uncanny” are extremely useful in understanding how characters evolve and devolve through this movie.

For the ‘double’ was originally an insurance against the destruction of the ego, an ‘energetic denial of the power of death’ a Rank says; and probably the “immortal” soul was the first ‘double’ of the body. This invention of doubling as a preservation against extinction has its counterpart in the language of dreams, which is fond of representing elastration by a doubling of multiplication of genital symbol… But when this stage has been surmounted, the ‘double’ reversed its aspect. From having been an assurance of immortality, it becomes the uncanny harbinger of death.  (Freud, 235)

This is important while dealing with the double to understand how it evolved and its destructive ability.  The double is crested out of the original’s desire for immortality which, as explained in the quote above, causes its demise.  This theory is useful in helping distinguish the original from the double and understanding the paths both characters take.

Understanding cybernetics is imperative while looking at setting and how characters interact with it and with people around them.

The main difficulty did not, to my apprehension, lie so much in the invention of a proper self-acting mechanism for drawing out and twisting cotton into a continuous thread, as in the distribution of the different members of the apparatus into one co-operative body, in impelling each organ with its appropriate delicacy and speed, and above all, in training human beings to renounce their desultory habits of work and to identify themselves with the unvarying regularity of the complex automation. (Ure, 15)

This is an important concept when determining how humans are able to be part of automation. It helps explain how humans are willing to abandon their habits and create new ones that can be part of a cybernetic system. This article also examines how important age is when training people to be part of the system, “it is found nearly impossible to convert persons past the age of puberty.” (Ure, 15) This is an important distinction because it limits when a cybernetic system can be created, and how much work is put into the implementation of a system.

The main boundary in the movie Mean Girls is the one between popular and loser.  It constantly defines not only Cady but all the clicks in the school and “The Plastics.” When Cady, the dirt, is introduced into the school she is the epitome a loser. She had no friends, didn’t understand slang or pop culture references, and liked math.  She attempted to infiltrate a click that fell on the popular side of the spectrum “Unfriendly Black Hotties,” she greeted them with an African phrase “Jombo” (meaning hello) they just glared at her until she walked away.  At this point she tries to cross the boundary between loser and popular and is rejected.  In this situation a loser would have known their place, as to not approach that table.  This rejection caused her to eat lunch alone in the bathroom, where even a loser wouldn’t eat lunch.  

When she does meet friends they are on the loser end of the spectrum with “Art Freaks” but she seems to fit.  Once she begins to join that group she gets pulled into “The Plastics” by Regina George. The Plastics are all rich, attractive and as Damien put it “teen royalty.” When Cady is presented the opportunity to infiltrate The Plastics her friend that she is trying to impress convinces her to do it “I just think it would be like a fun little experiment if you were to hang out with them and tell us everything they say.” This begins Cady’s ascend into the monstrous. From then on she begins to hang out with the Plastics during the day and sometimes after school and report back to Janice and Damien.  Her constant flip flopping also begins to erode her identity.  Towards the end of her flip flopping she didn’t know how to identify herself apart from Regina George, the leader of The Plastics, “I spend 80% of my time talking about Regina and the other 20 trying to bring her up.”  She continued to do this even though it was alienating her actual friends, Janice and Damien. When Cady crosses farther into the plastic side of the boundary she ran into Janice who was upset by Cady’s secret keeping when they fought she said “ At least me and Regina George know we’re mean you try to act all innocent.” This shows Cady’s identity being destroyed and reformed into the plastic identity.

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