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Analysis of The Film 'Mean Girls', Based on The Theories of Karl Marx

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In history we can see the ideologies of Karl Marx throughout many societies and can still be seen today. This theory of Marxism was created so that the roles of society could be analyzed. With the higher economic power, this group, the bourgeoisie, is able to gain power through political and social means. By using these forces, the upper class can control the lower class and effectively push their ideologies on society, shaping the social norms of these classes how they want. Using Marxism ideologies, we can study the classes and the different roles of these social forces and structures and highlight these elements to discover how this lower class is affected by oppression from the higher class.

This paper will analyze the cult classic film Mean Girls comparing the characteristics of the social order based on the theories of Karl Marx. Mean Girls is a stereotypical high school comedy that involves a group of popular girls known as “The Plastics”, who most students fear and who control the social aspects of the school. On the other side of the social status there is the new girl that finds herself involved with the popular crowd and eventually becomes just like them. In the movie, “The Plastics” are girls who run the junior class at North Shore High School. They would represent Karl Marx’s term, the bourgeoisie, which means that they believe that they are the most powerful clique and they have the economic power and therefore control the social aspects of the school. Then you have the lower class of this theory, the proletariat, who consists of the people who want to make a social change – the students who have felt personally victimized by Regina George. Their idea is to sabotage this hierarchy that has been created by ruining this social game of the “The Plastics”. Karl Marx explains that when analyzing a society, there is an always an ongoing set of conflicts between social classes. In the final analysis, this essay will argue that by using Max’s theory, we can see how the ideals of Marxism can affect every social class, which even includes the cliques of high schools. It shows that the bourgeoise’s (The Plastics) ideology controls and oppresses the proletariat (the other cliques) through social control.

Cady Heron, being home-schooled her whole life, up until this point, does not understand the social cliques of high school. By skipping her gym period with her new friends Janis and Damien “the unique art freaks”, as described in the movie, she is given a map of the school cafeteria. This is when she begins to understand how the social cliques work, “You got your…freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, J.V jocks, Asian nerds, Cool Asians…the greatest people you will ever meet and the worst: Beware of the Plastics” (Mean Girls). Already in this movie were are seeing the ideals of Marxism and how everyone has their place in the cafeteria environment. This scene shows Marx’s idea of alienation, which is meant to suppress each clique while in school.

The Plastics, who’s leader is Regina George followed by her two wannabees, Gretchen and Karen,”She’s the queen bee.The star. Those other two are just her little workers.” (Mean Girls). Regina George being the head of the clique, rules the by herself and surrounds herself with a group of followers, or advisors. Her follower’s main job is to praise her and give her the recognition that needs. She has made herself to be above everyone else. She has mastered the ideals of marxism, creating a system that was made for her to succeed in high school. “Capitalist, not the working class, control society’s ideology and its social consciousness. It is they who determine the acceptable standards of behavior and thoughts in their society” (Bressler 177). Of course, much like history has shown us several times before, there is always a rebel alliance that plans to overthrow their leader and make the changes that would therefore benefit the middle and lower classes. Regina sees that Cady has the potential to be a threat to her rule, which leads her to invite her to sit with the Plastics for the rest of the week. Regina attempts to get inside her head by first first complimenting her that she is really pretty. When she says thank you, Regina aks “So you agree.You think you’re really pretty” (Mean Girls). By making her part of the group she is now attempting to eliminate the threat.

Where Marxism really plays a big role is the consumerism that is shown through the movie. The Plastics much like the government likes to tell the middle class what is acceptable to be more socially acceptable in society, and with high school an example of this was wearing army pants and flip flops, “I saw Cady Heron wearing Army pants and flip-flops, so I bought Army pants and flip-flops” (Mean Girls) In addition to their role in consumerism, they also use the power of intimidation and blackmail, creating what they call the “Burn Book”, which lists girls of their grade and mean comments by them “Amber D’Alessio. She made out with a hot dog” (Mean Girls). This was there way to feel in control of the other junior girls.

Cady Heron in the movie is considered to our middle class or the working class of society. She relates much of her high school experience to that of the animal kingdom in Africa but realizes that high school clique problems are handled much different, “I knew how this would be settled in the animal world. But this was Girl World” (Mean Girls). With the help of her friends, the “ proletariat”, create a plan to overthrow Regina George. “All working peoples can free themselves from the chains of social, economic, and political oppression if they will recognize that they are presently not free agents, but individuals controlled by an intricate social web dominated by a self-declared, self-empowered, and self-perpetuating social elite” (Bressler 177). By banding together and revolting against this elite leader, they can bring the social hierarchy down, eliminating the bourgeoise. According to Marx, this hierarchy is only ended by human action.

This human action is the plan that is created by her friend Janis, “How do you overthrow a dictator? You cut off her resources.Regina would be nothing without her high-status man candy…technically good physique…and ignorant band of loyal followers” (Mean Girls). After many attempts, the secret of ruining her relationship “she’s hooking up with Shane Oman in the projection room above the auditorium”, turned her boyfriend against her. Her good physique – giving her Kalteen bars, “Coach Carr makes us eat those when we wanna move up a weight class”. Lastly, the members of the group slowly began to fall apart with sneaky three way calls, sending candy canes pretending that they were from Regina George “I was gonna use three candy canes to crack Gretchen Wieners…Once Gretchen thought Regina was mad at her, the secrets started pouring out. All I had to do was wait for one we could use.” (Mean Girls). This eventually led Regina’s followers to betray her. With Regina gaining weight, she was no longer following the dress code that was set by her (which also leads to one of the most famous lines), “Regina, you’re wearing sweatpants. It’s Monday. So that’s against the rules and you can’t sit with us” (Mean Girls). In attempt to still keep control of her followers, she tries to change the rules and say those rule are not even real.

Regina George now feeling that she is being overthrown attempts to gain control again. She uses the Burn Book against her followers and turns the whole school against each other. Through all this fighting and backstabbing, the conflict is eventually defeated. It all ends with Regina George having a near death experience with a school bus.  

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Analysis of the Film ‘Mean Girls’, Based on the Theories of Karl Marx. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 22, 2022, from
“Analysis of the Film ‘Mean Girls’, Based on the Theories of Karl Marx.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
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