In 2004, the film Mean Girls which starred Lindsay Lohan took the world into a college-girl-frenzy phenomenon. The film which basically delved on the tale of a young American girl from Africa- who transferred to an American School- has been considered as a good portrayal of a high school girl’s entry and survival into an all-new environment. With this, the character which Lohan played which is named Cady Heron has been seen to go through a lot of social struggles and challenges as she tried to survive in a new school with a totally different set of school mates and friends.
These social struggles and experiences present a lot of socio-psychological concepts which could be proven through this film as natural aspects of the natural socialization process teenagers undergo everyday. Some of these socio-psychological concepts are attraction, jealousy and conformity. As much as how this film has been very entertaining for viewers, this movie could also be an informational media which reflects and represents these socio-psychological concepts in a more popular and trendy presentation.
Conformity as Depicted in the Movie Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) is a daughter of two zoologists who had their posts in the African safaris for sometime. When Cady and her parents went back to the United States, she had to go through the most challenging tests of teen-age socialization as she transfers to a brand-new American high school with brand-new American school mates. This was where the main story of the film started.
It was opened by Cady’s realization about all the possible challenges and psychological war fares she might face as well as the coping up that she would have to do in terms of all the teen age social rules which are rather unwritten yet very powerfully implemented in American high schools. The first thing that she needed to do as she set foot on her new school was to find a new and a reliable set of friends that would help her thrive and survive high school. But this task turned out to be harder than she expected.
She realized that her new school is a place where groups have already been established long before she came. And so this gave Cady a realization that what she actually needs to do is to penetrate in those groups and find herself a group which will accept her as a member. But in order to achieve this, she would have to deal with all the unwritten social rules of high school which will mean she has to adapt and conform with the social rules this new world would impose on her. This was apparently one of the most challenging struggles of Cady.
All her life, she has been used to learning how to survive the jungles of Africa with her parents and all the wild beasts that is why surviving high school is an all-new test of survival for her (Semple, 2004). As she starts off, she meets and makes friends with two geeks, Damian and Janis, who, in popular high school terms, would be labeled “out crowd”. However, they have been very supportive of her and very protective. But then eventually, she encounters the most popular and beautiful girl group in school which is led by Regina.
This group has been popularly known in school to be “The Plastics” which also members two very sarcastic girls, Gretchen and Karen. Cady was so amused and amazed by the thought that Regina is actually welcoming her to their very popular group-not knowing the deceitful hidden agenda behind that invite. And so she accepts the invitation and learns how to act, live and walk down the hallways like “The Plastics”. This is Cady’s own manifestation of conformity.
In studying social psychology, it is clear that conformity appears necessary in people’s attempt to be considered part of social groups to which they yearn to belong (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008). This attempt of people appears to come natural as their natural tendency of wanting to feel a sense of belongingness. This is also because of the innate need of humans to feel a sense of security and confidence in having peers and people with them whom they can consider as similar mates to whom they can very well relate to. This explains Cady’s primary reason for accepting Regina’s invitation to be part of her group.
Since Cady is a new girl in school, she would need a lot of support and help from friends to enable her to adapt and adjust well to her new environment. And then Cady’s transformation occurs. From being a simple, African-born girl, she then becomes this gorgeous, high-heeled, fashionista whom everybody in school looks up to as the next in line in Georgina’s reign. This transformation was vividly evident in the scenes which followed Cady’s realization of Georgina’s true intent for her and her unexpected attraction to Regina’s ex-boyfriend.
She also eventually learned how to act and speak like “The Plastics” which made her original friends, Damian and Janis, doubt as to whether this is just a front in Cady’s attempt to dethrone the mean girl Georgina, or if Cady’s really beginning to be like her. In exploring the unwritten rules of conformity in social psychology, it may appear that in order to conform well in a certain group, one would have to act and perform like the rest of the members of the group (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008). This would often require a person to alter and adjust some of his or her traits and behaviors in order to conform properly.
This appears necessary since members of a group would have to act similarly in order to maintain their identity and unified trademark. And so, this justifies Cady’s transformation in the process of being one of Regina’s friends. She indeed needed to change-from simple to fabulous- since she wants to be considered a deserving member of Regina’s girl group which appears to be nothing simple, only fabulous. But considering Cady’s intentions which are to dethrone Regina- in order to stop her reign of meanness in school- and to win her (Regina’s) former boyfriend’s heart, it may appear like Cady’s transformation in itself is rather mean.
In her pursuit to find a group of friends to belong to, she found Regina’s mean group which taught her the survival tricks in high school, yet transformed her into a mean girl herself whom she never expected herself to become. This just goes to show that in the socio-psychological process of conformity, a person may indeed undergo a 180 degrees of attitude change, which in Cady’s story’s context, from a simple girl to a mean girl. Attraction and Jealousy as depicted in the movie In Cady’s quest to find a true and reliable group of friends, she found Georgina’s group which was a mean and sarcastic group of girls instead.
In her desperate search, she agreed to give this group a try and attempted to change the girls’ attitudes, but instead they changed hers. She was totally changed and from her simplicity, she was then transformed into a glamorous, popular and a mean girl in herself. But aside from these changes, he encounters the most unexpected person that would change her back to how she has been before joining Georgina’s group, and this was Aaron Samuels, Regina’s heartthrob ex-boyfriend. Aaron and Cady meets each other a lot of times in the film since they are classmates.
It was a usual case of love at first sight for Cady’s case which turns out to be a huge mistake as well as she finds out that Aaron is actually Georgina’s ex-boyfriend. This would mean that there exist a very thin barricade between her and Aaron since Georgina still talks about him and considers getting him back. Considering Cady’s age, it appears very natural that she undergoes this process of getting attracted to a naturally striking and beautiful creature of the opposite sex. This is indeed an eternal part of growing up. As the movie has portrayed, Cady’s attraction to Aaron started in the form of a mere physical attraction.
However, as they exchange more conversations as time passed, Cady eventually learns that Aaron is more than just a pretty face. She discovers that Aaron is the ultimate manifestation of everything that she looks for in an ideal boyfriend, only that he’s Georgina’s ex-boyfriend. This shows a typical teen-age attraction. However, more than caring enough for Georgina-as she would definitely rage once she finds out Cady’s dating Aaron- Cady also thought about the possibility that she might just get dumped and rejected by Aaron in the impression that she’s just like Georgina now.
And looking at attraction and rejection in the socio-psychological perspective, this case of Cady would appear to be very understandable. This is because the fear of rejection will always hinder mutual attraction. Social psychology tells that this is caused by people’s natural tendency to invoke anxiety within themselves associated to social rejection and exclusion (Baumeister, Herron, Welt & Wotman, 1994). Hence this could cause hesitation and uncertainty on the person in pursuing the person to whom he or she is attracted to.
In Cady’s experience, this explains why she hesitated on welcoming the idea of dating Aaron in the first place-aside from the fact that she’s protecting Georgina’s feelings. However towards the end, the mean girl inside her rages as she gets jealous when Georgina seeks Aaron again and tries to get back with him. Jealousy typically goes along with attraction. As how social psychology would explain it, jealousy sparks when a person feels like there is a threat to his or her valued relationship or to even just a potential relationship (Baumeister, 2001).
In Cady’s story’s context, jealousy has been apparent when Cady witnesses Georgina’s attempt to win Aaron back. As days pass, Cady becomes more and more attracted to Aaron; however, she also gets more and more jealous as Georgina seems to be winning back Aaron. And so, Cady finally realizes that she must stand up and fight for what she wants. This is when she finally becomes a mean girl towards Georgina. Because as she tries to dethrone Georgina as the mean “Queen bee” of their school, she also tries to win Aaron as she gets very jealous.
This depiction just shows that in one way or another, jealousy indeed has some effects on a person’s attitude, and that it can be considered as a cause and root of a person’s attitude and behavior change in some instances. This appears understandable since jealousy is a perceived miserable feeling which makes a person feels somehow rejected, cheated and unloved. Some would even describe this feeling as the most painful and intense upon seeing their loved one with another partner (Baumeister, Herron, Welt & Wotman, 1994). This might probably be the same insights which pushed Cady to change.
Nevertheless, this is completely understandable as she appears to be so attracted to Aaron and so willing to win him over Georgina. That although her transformation appeared to be rather negative, she disregards all odds just to prove that she’s a better girl- a better girl as a whole and a better girl for Aaron. Conclusion In several ways, this movie portrays the general struggle of teenagers to survive and adapt to the social environment of high school which is typically made up of groups which can be dissected into the popular ones or the “in groups” and the not-so-popular ones or the “outcasts”.
Through this movie, it is easier to understand how complicated conformity can sometimes be. Conformity as a form of social adaptation and a key in order to belong to desired groups of friends appear very necessary and common among high school students. However, due to its complications and trials, one may eventually go wrong in choosing what attitudes to conform with. And this dilemma has been clearly reflected in Cady’s character in this movie. Similarly, attraction and jealousy indeed go hand-in-hand.
This movie has depicted clearly that the more that a person gets attracted to another person, the more probable that he or she will get very jealous over someone and will eventually do things just to remove that threat. In Cady’s story, she may have tried to go over board in terms of her attitude change just to achieve her intentions, but in the end, she realizes that it is definitely way better to be herself and not pretend as somebody else just to be accepted in a group or to be liked by the person she is attracted to.
Generally, this movie has been a very good representation of these social psychology concepts. These concepts have been clearly depicted in popular language and performances of the actors and actresses which made it easier to prove that such socio-psychological concepts are existent in real life, and in this movie’s case, in real teen-age life. References Baumeister, R. F. (2001). Social Psychology and Human Sexuality.
Philadelphia: Psychology Press. Baumeister, R. F. & Bushman, B. J. (2008). Social Psychology and Human Nature, 1st Ed. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company Baumeister, R. F. , Herron, W. G. , Welt, S. R. & Wotman, S. R. (1994). Breaking Hearts: The Two Sides of Unrequited Love. New York: Guilford Press. Semple, C. Mean Girls (2004): Plot Summary. IMBd. com. Retrieved April 23, 2009 from http://www. imdb. com/title/tt0377092/plotsummary.Sample Essay of Edusson.com