Love it or hate it, Mean Girls is a pop culture icon. The movie, released in 2004, became an unexpected phenomenon that launched some of the most quotable lines of the decade. There’s a huge difference between watching a movie about high school when you’re in high school yourself, and watching a movie about high school when you’re an adult. The movie has definitely aged well. It’s actually funnier to watch as an adult, because you can fully appreciate the satirical view of high school life. Some things, however, aren’t as funny…
It’s odd that Cady would assume the African-American students speak Swahili
For someone who grew up in Africa, Cady seems pretty ignorant. Sure, she was lonely and scared going to school for the first time, but assuming the black students in the cafeteria speak Swahili is the sort of casual racism you’d expect from someone who doesn’t realize that Africa is a continent with many countries and many languages. There are an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 languages spoken in Africa, so even if the students were from Africa, there would be no guarantee they’d speak Swahili. According to U.S. census data, there are fewer than 100,000 Swahili speakers in the country.
There’s also the fact that Cady would assume these students were from Africa to begin with. Did her parents not teach her any American history when they were homeschooling her? Does Cady really have no idea that most African-Americans are descendants of African slaves who were kidnapped and sent across the ocean centuries ago? It seems like a pretty significant detail to have been omitted from her homeschool curriculum.
There’s some weird racial segregation going on at this school
There’s a lot of racial diversity at Cady’s high school, but why are so many of the cliques divided by race? I can fully appreciate highlighting the absurdity of dividing people into groups based on arbitrary characteristics, but it’s pretty disturbing to see Asian-American students and African-American students only hanging out with people who have the same skin color. Is there some sort of unspoken code of racial segregation at this school?
Cady has no fashion sense but her hair is somehow trendy
It’s a pretty well-established fact that Cady has zero fashion sense. She doesn’t know how to dress in style, has no pink clothes and has to borrow a pink shirt from a friend, and her go-to hairstyle is a ponytail. Yet somehow, when she puts her hair down, we see that it’s cut in trendy layers. The hairstyle Cady is rocking was one of the most popular haircuts of the 2000’s.
Ms. Norbury represents all underpaid teachers
Poor Ms. Norbury. Not only has she just gone through a divorce, but she’s also working two other jobs in addition to working full-time as a teacher. Even worse is the fact that she’s not alone. Many teachers are underpaid and teacher salaries are slipping. With wages significantly lower than that of other college-educated professionals, more and more people are opting for more lucrative career paths which is leading to a shortage of teachers. Those who do become teachers often have to work a second job just to make ends meet.
Kevin’s rap is cut off but the Plastics are allowed to complete their suggestive dance routine
OK, Kevin’s rap was a little risque, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the dance routine the Plastics perform in skimpy little outfits. His suggestive lyrics got him kicked off the stage, though, while the Plastics were allowed to complete their whole routine. In 2016, BuzzFeed gave Rajiv Surendra, the actor who played Kevin, another chance to perform the rap — without a shirt. Needless to say, fans ate it up.
Ms. Norbury’s piano skills are unnaturally good
We know that Ms. Norbury’s second job is working as a bartender and, judging by her piano skills, a music-related job is likely her third. When Gretchen kicks over the CD player with the Plastics dance music on it, Cady starts singing and Ms. Norbury immediately jumps in on the piano in a flawless rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock.”
Ms. Norbury’s ability to play by ear is one that even many professional musicians would envy. As a classically trained pianist who went to college as a piano performance major on a performing arts scholarship, even I’m not sure if I could have accompanied the Plastics that effortlessly. Needless to say, I’m jealous.
Young Cady is shown on an Asian elephant
Cady grew up in Africa, but when Aaron goes into her bedroom and sees a picture of her on an elephant, there’s a major flaw. Judging by the size and shape of the elephant’s ears and head, Cady is on an Asian elephant, not an African elephant. The glimpse of the picture is short enough that it’s easy to overlook this mistake, but to anyone who knows the difference between Asian and African elephants, it’s glaringly obvious.
Aaron is really bad at math
The fact that Cady’s crush and Regina’s boyfriend, Aaron Samuels, is bad at math is a pretty significant plot point in the movie. In order to convince him to tutor her, Cady pretends to be even worse at math, leading to her calculus grade dropping. It’s pretty clear from the film that Aaron isn’t just bad at math but that he probably needs a tutor himself. Considering that he doesn’t even know that multiplying two negative numbers gives you a positive (a basic concept commonly taught in middle school), it’s hard to believe that he’s even passing the class.
You’d think it would be pretty easy to analyze the handwriting of the burn book
Regina implicates Cady, Gretchen, and Karen in the burn book scandal by writing terrible things about herself in it so that the only people not mentioned are the other Plastics. The trio gets into trouble after copies of the burn book are distributed throughout the school and are accused of writing it, even though they insist Regina is the culprit. Somehow, despite the fact that the book is completely written by hand, it never occurs to anyone to check the handwriting in it against Regina’s.
Trang Pak and Sun Jin Dinh are supposed to be Vietnamese, but their names aren’t
Two of the girls in the “cool” Asian clique, Trang Pak and Sun Jin Dinh, are supposed to be Vietnamese, but their names don’t quite match up. Ky Pham, the actress who played Trang Pak, revealed that her lines were originally in English, but the decision was made to have her speak Vietnamese. “I had to go home and have a bunch of the lines translated into Vietnamese, because I had no idea how to translate it myself,” she told HuffPost. “I took my lines to my dad.”
The names Trang and Dinh are both Vietnamese which seems to match up with the portrayed national origins of the characters. Pak, however, is a Korean last name, while Sun and Jin are Chinese names.
A burn book does not constitute probable cause to search someone’s home
After the burn book is revealed, Ms. Norbury is investigated by the police because of an accusation that she is a drug pusher. She tells Cady that she had her home searched. It’s highly unlikely, however, that the police would have been able to obtain a search warrant on the basis of a rumor started by high school girls. By law, there must be probable cause in order to issue a warrant and a burn book is hardly a credible source.
Ndebele art is typically very colorful, unlike the fertility vase in the movie
The Herons have in their home what is allegedly a Ndebele fertility vase. Cady is scolded by her mother for storing this black and white artifact under the sink. However, the vase does not look anything like typical Ndbele art which is particularly noted for its colorful patterns. The Ndebele people are not even known for fertility vases, although fertility dolls play an important role in marriage rituals.