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Do Teen Movies Project Bad Self-Images for Girls?
Jessica Bieterman

With the April release of the Paramount film, "Mean Girls" starring teen starlet, Lindsay Lohan many like myself have questioned the type of formulaic crap being relayed out to the public, primarily teenage girls.

I fell in love with the romanticism John Hughes brought in the 1980's for all his classic teen movies, including "Sixteen Candles," "Pretty in Pink," "The Breakfast Club," and "Weird Science." John Hughes seemed to be a hero to young, angsty teens who were just trying to find their place in life.

However, nowadays it seems the teen genre of films seems to be getting worse and worse. No longer are the teens in movies resemblant of teenagers, but the teens aren't even teens at all. The actresses resemble tall models running around in half shirts and mini skirts.

I guess what bothers me most about these films is they all seem to follow the exact same plot. Not only that, but it's all been done before! When I first saw the preview for "Mean Girls" I thought oh no, another remake of "Heathers" minus Winona Ryder and Christian Slater.

Comparing the two though, "Heathers" in my opinion was a funny, dark, and witty film about the cliques of high school and the society it forms. The female characters were bitchy, but intelligent. "Mean Girls" looks to me as if it's stereotyping teen girls, saying all they care about is shopping, boys, and lip gloss.
However, both films have one theme in common, which is the cruelty young girls have towards each other. It seems in both films a carnivorous society exists amongst the girls. They aren't friends, but business partners, and to quote Winona Ryder from Heathers, "And our job is being popular and shit."
In almost every teen film I've seen the girls are generally portrayed that way- all in some competition to be better than other. It makes me wonder, does this type of message impact young girls?

I think we've all felt the pains of adolescence, we've all wanted to feel beautiful or loved, but are these films an accurate portrayal of girls in high school? While I don't think many will go on a killing spree like in "Heathers" I think this type of cruelty does go on.

However, I would like to see it more realistically played out on the screen. I want to see the ugly ducking of the group who feels insecure and lost, really look that way, not some gorgeous model/actress hiding in some Hollywood disguise.

I think a recent movie that accurately portrayed teen girls was "Thirteen" which was written and starred in by Nikki Reed who wrote of her own personal experiences growing up. I think the film painted a realistic image of the stress young girls go through trying to fit in and the impact media has on girl's self image.

While, I have yet to see the cleverly titled, "Mean Girls" I am guessing that it will fail to leave any big impression on audiences, while I don't expect it to be a dramatic epic, I do wish that film writers and producers would write more realistic female characters. I want to see a young female whose smart, funny, and witty, not a 25 year old dressed up to look like 15 year old jail bait whose troubled life consists of the galleria and the perplexity of teenage boys. Until then, I guess I'll be stuck at home watching "Sixteen Candles" living vicariously through Molly Ringwald.

Jessica Bieterman currently resides in the Venice area and is a full time student studying journalism. She enjoys writing, music, and films.






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