The setting of the movie Mean Girls is a major part of the movie because it is crucial in the development of the plot. It takes place in the town of Evanston, Illinois after the main character, Cady Heron and her parents move there from Africa. Most of the movie takes place in North Shore High School, where Cady learns how challenging being a girl in high school can be. Since she had spent all of her life in Africa, she was not aware that the “Girl World” could be just as brutal as the “Animal World”. Cady starts hanging out with a group of girls who are called “The Plastics” who are the mean girls of the school in order to expose them and their secrets. Unfortunately for Cady, she starts to like their way of life, causing a rift between her and all of the people she cares about.
North Shore High School helps make the argument that society can be very shallow The high school is a perfect setting for the movie because schools contain a broad variety of people. In every school, there are people from different economic, ethnic and social backgrounds. There are also people with different personalities and hobbies. By using the high school with its melting pot of students, the argument that most young people in society are materialistic and superficial is made. The reason for this is that most of the girls in North Shore High School cared about being popular and beautiful no matter what clique they were a part of. They all wanted to be part of “The Plastics” because they were the most beautiful and well dressed in the school. Even the nerds and the athletes wanted to be part of the infamous clique. The leader of the plastics, Regina George and the rest of her crew mistreated everyone in North Shore High School, but those who they mistreated still worshipped them because they were blinded by all of their glamour. They saw Regina as a goddess, and even believed rumors that her hair was insured for $10,000. In our society, there are many boys and girls who let the popular kids mistreat them because they want to emulate them and be a part of their group. They use a pathos appeal to prove their argument because by allowing the audience to feel what Cady is going through. By seeing Cady’s experience with cliques, the audience is able to empathize with her and see how shallow society is.
“Since ancient times, critics have discussed art as having a double function: to teach and to provide pleasure” (Giannetti, 3). The setting of the movie was also used to teach us about American culture. The movie takes place in the United States because it mostly represents how people are in America. Other countries have many materialistic people as well, but the problem of materialism is especially big in the United States. This country is a land of excess in which everything is supposed to be bigger and better. People from all over the world migrate to the United States to live the “American Dream” and earn more money than they could in their home countries. The United States is a place where even meals are super-sized because nothing is ever enough. Using North Shore High School, the movie Mean Girls shows us how many young people feel living in this country. A lot of people are insecure being themselves because they feel that it is not enough. Wearing a cute pair of jeans with a nice t-shirt might is not sufficient for many girls because there is always a Regina George around who is wearing something better, unless you are the Regina George in your school or social circle. By using an ethos appeal, the movie helps the audience get to know the characters and relate to them.
The use of North Shore High School as the setting is important to make arguments about the time period we are in. Before the 21st century, materialism existed, but was not as big a problem as it is today. In previous times, they did not have all of the things that we do. Our advances in technology have led to the production of so many things that we do not need, but we eventually want. We want these things because we are greedy and always want to have the best things in our hands. A person will never be happy with one pair of shoes, because there are so many other shoes around to buy. “The Plastics” represent those people who always get what they want, while the rest of the girls in the movie represent those who want things, but cannot have them. Cady Heron represents how people can lose their sense of right and wrong when they finally have everything they always wanted. All of this contributes to a pathos appeal because the audience can feel anger towards “The Plastics” and what they stand for. The audience also feels pity for the unpopular girls and Cady because “Emotionally vulnerable characters appeal to our protective instincts” (Giannetti,6).
The setting also sets the tone and mood of the film in various ways. By using it as the setting, we can see that it is probably not a very serious movie because it is about social cliques. From the beginning, we see that North Shore High School is used to portray major issues in a lighter way. The movie definitely addresses the problem of “bullying” but it does so in a way that is funny to appeal to different types of audiences. Many people do not enjoy watching sad movies, so a comedy can be a good way to teach them a message without them looking for it.
The movie Mean Girls is a very popular movie and I don’t doubt that a large part of its popularity is due to its powerful hidden messages. Without the use of the high school as the setting, they would not have been able to get their message across as well. North Shore High School and its students depict the way our society works, making it a logos appeal. I loved this movie, and I would definitely recommend it to people of all ages.