Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

From mean to meaning

Navigating the parallels of movies, high school reality

I grew up watching hundreds of generic shows and movies about high school, which led me to have many expectations for this time. However, now that I am in high school, I realize my expectations both exceeded and failed as I met new people and went through new experiences.

“Mean Girls” exaggerates many common high school stereotypes, often glazing over the positives. (Photo by Ella Chan)

Movies influenced my false perception of high school life, especially iconic teen movies like “Mean Girls.” In these movies, it is easy to assume high school is all about friends, drama and having fun. For example, in “Mean Girls,” high school is illustrated as a place completely centered around gossip, judgment and superficial things, contrasting with my view of high school as a welcoming place of education and positivity.

I remember first coming to high school from a small, private middle school instead of the public school all of my elementary school friends went to. I felt anxious that I would not make a lot of friends easily and have trouble in my classes. But, after my first day, I was able to meet up and talk to my old friends, which made my transition much easier. My classes were interesting and I was relieved to know I would have a circle of friends to hang out with in my first year of high school. 

The movie exaggerates the majority of high school life, from the Burn Book tearing up the entire school to girls ripping out each others’ hair. This resulted in the whole school having an intervention on gossip and many friendships being broken. After watching this, I expected high school to be somewhat similar to the movie to a smaller extent, minus the school-wide fighting and hair-pulling. 

Popular cliques are real issues at our school, but they are not at the level of intensity the movie depicts. In “Mean Girls,” there is one dominating clique called The Plastics that controls the entire school. Our school still has a fair amount of small cliques around campus, including my own, and I have noticed that it is easy to shy away from people who are not into the same things as me or are in different grades. Although these cliques exist in real life, I do not think they are as toxic as The Plastics necessarily but are merely groups of people with different interests. 

Even if the cliques in the movie compared to real life have some similarities, the bullying in the movie is the most exaggerated feature. No one I know at our school would be so cruel as to make a Burn Book or write verbal assaults about people, let alone engage in school-wide fistfights because of gossip. No one I know wants to be the center of the joke, let alone negatively written about in a book.

Most of the bullying that takes place at HHS is not face-to-face as the movie shows, but rather online and anonymous, making the situation even worse because there is no way to trace the attack. Similarly, bullying and aggression are often over academic stress, as students tend to compare their test scores or the difficulty of their classes in an overly competitive way. 

Although the portrayal of high school life that “Mean Girls” presents is somewhat real, I have found high school to mostly be a place where I can learn with kind friends and thoughtful teachers around me. Most importantly, I have learned that some lessons can be learned through these movies that exaggerate high school stereotypes that warn people what not to do.

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About the Contributor
Ella Chan
Ella Chan, Lifestyles Editor
Ella is currently a junior and is one of the Lifestyles editors. Entering her second year in journalism, she is excited for a new year of people, memories and events. Ella loves boba, going to the beach and trying out new coffee places.

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