Saturday, January 01, 2005

Thirteen Mean Girls

I still cannot believe that I just watched "Mean Girls" and enjoyed it. It was perhaps elitist to have had low expectations before viewing the film, but one is too wary of packaged presentations from Hollywood touting the wares of the fickle god of consumerism.

"Mean Girls" was no such film. It conveys a number of positive messages without being trite, is funny and endearing, and most of all, entertaining. The essence of the film reminds one of the recent Amazon Theater short film "Portrait", where a frumpy woman discovers that her inner beauty is brought to the forefront by a photoshoot. While "Portrait" was consumerism-heavy and product-placement thick, "Mean Girls" provides the message that you need to value your friends, study hard and be yourself to be happy. In the end, everyone, even the Queen Bee is happy and fulfilled, in their own, individualistic way.

This is another theme of the film - that fulfilment of the American dream is possible in which way we interpret the dream. A truly multi-cultural and multi-ethnic film, it can also be the posterchild for globalization as a positive force. To arrive is to learn, and the jungle is not very different from public school Americanus. The agglomeration of cultures in the school also illustrates that America is contrary to any perceptions not monocultural at all,and it takes more than just red, white and blue to fill the social spectrum.

Some good digs are taken at various topical themes such as homeschooling, abstinence education and school fashionistas. The math club scenes serve to show there is more to school than make up and making out. The finale of the film is satisfying, in more ways than one.

A film every teen should watch.

A film that every parent with a teen, or prospective teen should watch is "Thirteen". This tale of how easy it is for bad choices to take one off the strait and narrow path is dark, troubled and uncool. Yet, it too, is an important and well made film, dealing with important social issues such as the pressures on single mothers, temptation and self destructive urges in teenagers.

Easy access to drugs is not necessarily a guarantee of doom for an intelligent young person. Many people, when tempted, turn away. The most recent episode of Huff, the Showtime series demonstrated this when Huff's son tastes and then turns away from temptations offered him by his friends, choosing not to steal his father's drug samples. Not every child is so well informed and smart. Often, as "Thirteen" shows, it can be because of inadequate attention by a pressured or distracted parent, although attention may not be enough.

Two films, both different, both important.

Happy New Year

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Time traveler, world traveler, book reader