Note: This post may be edited in the future to add more detail and accuracy.
This film is the last place anyone would go to learn about power dynamics, I know.
But hear me out because I think it’s an interesting case to make.
These are a few key things this movie taught me about power dynamics.
1. There is NO Switzerland
North Shore High School is nothing but one big cluster of multiple political parties. The moment Cady (The Main Character) enters this environment as a new student, two political parties IMMEDIATELY attempt to recruit her.
- Janice and Damien
- The Plastics
Janice attempts to impart her political worldview onto Cady, including her very strong opinions about the opposing party: The Plastics. From then on, Cady is already participating in the high school power struggle whether she knows it or not. However before her initiation process with Janice and Damien is complete, something happens.
The last step in this initiation process is interrupted.
Cady would have ended up integrating into high school society with Janice and Damien once she sat at their table in the cafeteria.
However, before her canvas is painted, Cady is invited to sit at the Plastics table and is offered the opportunity to sit with them for the rest of the week. Which in turn, puts Cady in a state of limbo between two worldviews.
2. The World’s Greatest Political Weapon is a Blank Slate
Both groups immediately take advantage of the two key qualities that make Cady a valued asset to both groups.
- Her Beauty (Ability to Influence)
- Her Naivete (Disarming)
Regina recruited Cady so she could use her beauty to continue the promotion of the Plastics. Everyone remembers the delighted shock Regina displayed upon finding out that Cady had never been to a real school before. At that moment, Regina realized that Cady was not a threat to her and lowered her guard.
Meanwhile, Janice and Damien realize that this is an opportunity to take down the ruling party. So they paint Cady into their weapon of mass destruction against Regina George and the Plastics. They program her to be the perfect AI coded to target and sabotage all of Regina’s resources.
3. The Model Citizen
“We need to crack Gretchen Wieners” – Janice Ians
Why does Janice say this?
Because Janice understood how important Gretchen Wieners was to maintaining Regina’s position at the top.
Gretchen Wieners is the believer that legitimizes Regina’s position. She is Regina’s first investor who truly believes Regina is to be listened to and served. She is Regina’s campaign manager and advisor who will take all the hits for Regina in order for Regina to maintain her image.
Not fully convinced?
Then tell me why, when Cady is debriefed on the rules the Plastics for (i.e. how they dress during the week), it is GRETCHEN who informs Cady of these rules NOT Regina.
Why do you think Gretchen is the one to ‘deliver’ Regina’s apology hug to Cady? Instead of Regina?
If Cady were to be angry, even if the anger is for Regina, Gretchen would receive and neutralize it. Leaving Regina free to continue as she wishes. Gretchen is a reusable scapegoat if you will. She is willing to maintain Regina’s power.
This is also the reason Regina entrusts her with so many secrets. She is loyal and keeps her mouth shut. Until of course, she breaks.
Lastly, this seems to be Gretchen’s call in life. If you recall at the end of the movie, Gretchen joined a new clique and served its clique leader.
Just like Cyrus Bean from Scandal, she serves and upholds a leader she can believe in. Crafting the leader of a new clique.
On that note, what should have been the true sequel of Mean Girls should have been the rise of a new clique also supported by Gretchen Wieners.