Intergenerational Representation and Hegemonic Masculinity: Identity Transformation in the 21st Century
A Close Reading of that Scene in Mean Girls Featuring the 2011 Class Day Speaker Amy Poehler
Assignment for: History and Literature Junior Tutorial
Poehler enters Regina’s bedroom wearing a pink Juicy sweat suit, the designer brand indicated by the letter “J” on the zipper, symbolizing the F. Scott Fitzgeraldian obsession with youth through material objects. The brand “Juicy” is itself a problematized concept—as an adjective it degrades the female who wears it, suggesting that American women seek to display their body parts for male pleasure and fetishization. Poehler (who is only ever referred to as “Regina’s mom,” indicating the glorification of her role as mother) asks the girls about the “411,” the “hot gossip,” the “cool jams.” These anachronisms that represent her failed attempt to relate to her daughter evoke the politics of intergenerational representations of the divide between Baby Boomers and their teenage offspring. The parental “figure” pressures the teenaged subordinate to socialize, which in fact engenders the heteronormative “hook-up” culture that facilitates the development of the so-called “teen identity.”
Poehler, or “nameless mother,” stretches out her arms (representing the physical struggle that women encounter in the domestic sphere at the expense of any real exertion outside of the home) and engulfs Cady in a hug, trapping Cady between her two silicone breasts. “The boob job”: a gendered manifestation of hegemonic masculinity and of the carnal desires of society’s mysoginistic men. The supposed superior gender mythologizes the subordination of women and bestows painful physical re-creation that translates to an identity transformation of society’s female population.