Ten years after Mean Girls was released, the teen coming-of-age film that features no Web pages, no smartphones and little technology of any kind has become as integral to social media as an army of skanks was to Regina George's reign as Queen B of North Shore High. This last month saw representatives from Tumblr tell The New York Times that Mean Girls alone is responsible for more than 10,000 posts and nearly 500,000 notes. The Washington Post cited it as perhaps the most enduring bit of pop culture to ever grace the Internet amid a cloud of fast-fading memes.
In perhaps the magnum opus of Mean Girls social media commentary, Megan Garber at The Atlantic noted that not only did the film debut the same year that Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook's (FB - Get Report) earliest incarnation at Harvard, but it laid the meme-based groundwork for Tumblr, BuzzFeed and everything that followed. In Garber's view "it combines informational content with social and emotional content" as those sites have and as your social media feed does on a daily basis.
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So how does this happen pre-Internet? How does a film made on a $17 million budget by Lorne Michaels, his Saturday Night Live head writer and some of the spare parts he had laying around -- and we're talking about Amy Pohler, Ana Gastayer and the shamefully underappreciated Tim Meadows, not early-career Amanda Seyfreid and Rachel McAdams -- end up making $129 million and going into regular rotation on TBS? It's because of us.
Mean Girls' greatest treasure isn't Kevin Gnapoor's Christmas song (or Pohler's NSFW readthrough), Regina George punching people in the face or Glen Coco (you go, Glen Coco). It's the moment when Lizzy Caplan's Janis Ian, the first high-school friend of Lohan's formerly home-schooled Cady Heron, walks her into North Shore's cafeteria and hands her a map of the various cliques.
Where you sit in the cafeteria is crucial because you got everybody there. You got your Freshmen, ROTC Guys, Preps, JV Jocks, Asian Nerds, Cool Asians, Varsity Jocks, Unfriendly Black Hotties, Girls Who Eat Their Feelings, Girls Who Don't Eat Anything, Desperate Wannabes, Burnouts, Sexually Active Band Geeks, The Greatest People You Will Ever Meet, and The Worst. Beware of The Plastics.