Written by Chaya Weiss and Joy Rosenthal
I think in these rousing days of such influential and powerful movements as #metoo, #timesup, etc, Tina Fey’s creation – Mean Girls on Broadway, stands out as being especially relevant. Her musical adaption isn’t so much a performance as it is a live-action force of inclusion and feminism.
It can safely be said that most people have, at some point in their lives, felt belittled, condescended to, or patronized. There have been times when either by the voice inside your head, or by the voices of people around you, you have felt worth little more than cafeteria leftovers. It is human nature to want to belong and sometimes, when we don’t have the means or know-how, that intense desire can be just as destructive as rejection or exclusion.
This is why I think Mean Girls is so significant. It’s a literal bible that details both the outside consequences of our behavior due to those desires, as well as the aftermath to ourselves. This reach extends even into the realm of LGBTQ where for some reactions to not coming out can be just as destructive or harmful as the reverse. Even among discriminated minorities there is still separatism and superiority. There are cool tables only for those who have the “right” standard of feminism, the “in” types of gay, the “real” outcasts, and so on.
Tina Fey told us via Janis (played by Barrett Wilbert Weed) to recognize the falsity of the posse mindset – inclusion doesn’t have to come at the expense of your identity and individuality does not have to come at the expense of your dignity. Your intelligence is not a marker of your worth and the right to pass judgment does not come inherently with a person’s obligation to accept it.
It is hard to shut out the world when it’s right there in your face. It’s hard to ignore opinions that are roared and a people that are determined to band together in their hatred; sheltered and empowered by the anonymity provided by the internet and social medias. And yet, these very tools that are turned towards us can also be used as both shields and weapons. We are connected as never before, banded together by branches that stretch far beyond the streets and cities we live. Our opinions matter and our voices can be heard. We can combat the hate with the multitude of our sounds and the anonymity with fearless identity. Our individualities don’t need to be suppressed in order to be joined in power and simultaneously it’s okay to recognize and celebrate the sameness that makes us human.
Mean Girls speaks to me as a feminist anthem, “I’d Rather Be Me” as a constitution of acceptance. It serves as a repeat inoculation against a hate that seems so pervasive. It reminds me that there’s a place to be created for each us, even if we have to make it ourselves. If we strengthen our convictions we can strengthen their impact; and these convictions can then be the bolster that holds up those who are not yet able to create such places for themselves.These spaces, ours words, this world here, is something we can band together to create.
The cool table is ours already, we just have to sit.
Mean Girls is written by Tina Fey and music by Jeff Richmond lyrics Nell Benjamin. It has been nominated for twelve Tony Awards and is currently playing at the August Wilson Theater on 52nd street.