Gay Iconography: Was 'Mean Girls' Too Gay To Function?
The phrase "gay icon" gets tossed around a lot, but what does that really mean? Welcome to Gay Iconography, a new feature where we present a proposed iconic figure or character and then ask you to weigh in with your thoughts.
So far this series has focused on individuals that many consider gay icons. Sometimes that meant obvious standards (like Cher and Judy Garland), and sometimes it was introducing more contemporary figures (like Ben Cohen and Laverne Cox) that are still making their mark.
But sometimes there are classic works that become iconic more than their individual creators or stars. (Films like Paris Is Burning and Brokeback Mountain immediately come to mind.) However, this week, we were reminded of a (perhaps sillier) movie that happens to be celebrating 10 years since its initial release.
We're talking about Mean Girls. I get it, this isn't The Boys In the Band. But, for a certain generation, Mean Girls is the definitive portrayal of the high school experience. Hailed as one of the best high school films of all time, the film was a box office and critical success when it was released in 2004, and it has only grown in popularity -- especially in the gay community. Even if you've (somehow) never seen it, it's so often quoted, you've likely heard one of Mean Girls' many one-liners.
Treat yourself to some Friday afternoon LOLs with the groolest moments that have endeared the film to those of us just too gay to function, AFTER THE JUMP …
When it comes to portrayals of gay teens, the original Mean Girls' Damien is an interesting case. He's what some would describe as "queeny" without being waifish. He's picked on, but never a victim. In fact, he and fellow outcast Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan) likely take the constant reminders that they don't fit in with the rest of their suburban teen peers as something of a compliment. Whether it's a witty retort or sneaker to the face, Damien could dish out just as well as he could take it.
Of course, Mean Girls wouldn't be the enduring cult favorite it's become today if it wasn't funny. Written by the hysterical Tina Fey and featuring performances by fellow SNL alums Ana Gasteyer, Tim Meadows and Amy Poehler, the film overflows with Fey's signature blend of humor.
Fey couldn't skew early-aughts teen life so sharply without some keen insight. Not only did she accurately nail relics like three-way calling blitzes, but she smartly shined a spotlight on the kind of gossip and "girl-on-girl crime" that's evolved into the social media-fueled cyberbullying we see today. She was inspired by the book Queen Bees and Wannabes, and the authentic-sounding dialog in the film owes a debt to the teens profiled in the book, as well as interviews Fey conducted.
Adoration for the film still permeates pop culture today. During season 12 of American Idol, judges (and arguably gay icons in their own rights) Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj got in a diva spat over a Mean Girls reference. (Carey's song Obsessed even starts with a quote from the film.)
This week, American Idol-contestant-turned-YouTube-star Todrick Hall paid homage to the teen comedy with a parody featuring famous gay personalities Colby Melvin, Chris Crocker and Willam Belli.
Does Mean Girls belong in the gay film canon? What are your favorite moments? Sound off in the comments.