The average American high school is a mecca of noticeable things. Among them is the most obvious and interesting. Take a walk into the cafeteria, try and find an empty table and sit down. Now look around. What do you think you will observe? It is not the disappointing cafeteria food, or the bland decorations; rather it is the glaring display of groups and divisions among the students. At one table there are the "nerds" who have their noses in books, reading or doing homework. Across from them is the hippie table with students in tie-dye shirts that read, "Grateful Dead. Still Alive." Down from them is the table where colored clothes are not allowed, only black. The next table is full of the athletic guys wearing jerseys and chanting loudly. There are also the tables with the students who fall short of fitting a distinct group. They are not unpopular but they are not popular either. Then there is the final table, which all the others seem to center around, the dream table. This table is where the most popular kids in school can be found. It is composed of the girls that all of the other girls want to be and all of the guys want to hook-up with. This cinematic image of a high school cafeteria may be considered a generalization or a stereotype. Unfortunately, this observation and assumption does not fall far from reality. Today, an average high school does has its noticeable divisions, although perhaps not to this extent, which separates the cool from the not cool.
[...] Wiseman's novel goes into detail about the concept of being “inside the versus being “outside the box.” In “Mean Girls or Cultural Stereotypes,” an essay review of Marion Underwood's Social Aggression among Girls, Stacey Horn, a professor at the University of Illinois, describes the stereotypes in films by saying, “These portrayals of social or relational aggression in the popular media paint a picture of girls gossiping, back-biting and manipulative, and try to make the case that this type of aggression is inherently female in nature” (314). [...]
[...] The portrayal of the cool in Clueless is based on the general image of being a snob, a rich stuck-up girl. Cher drives a new Jeep Wrangler even though she does not have her license yet. She has a large closet and a wide variety of designer clothes. She always has her cell phone with her and Dionne lets the audience know in the very beginning that she owns a pager. The audience is introduced to the idea that money is the key to being popular; money links to what a person can wear and own and possessions are portrayed as very important. [...]
[...] Cressey describes the influence: [Films] can command attention through the fact that it is “telling a story,” an instructional advantage recognized even in early use of folklore and parables. By the portrayal upon the screen of life situation, which seem only more gripping than those the child himself usually experience, the photoplay can readily confer upon its subject matter a sense of validity and definiteness not so easily obtained, perhaps by other method of communication or instruction. (508) Films and the media as a whole have gained success through stereotypes and representing what they convey as reality. [...]
[...] (To Gretchen on the other side of the call) See, Gretch? I told you she's not mad at you. GRETCHEN. I can't believe you think I like attention! REGINA. OK, love you. See you tomorrow. (Mean Girls 46) Regina purposely drives Cady into a corner by getting her to bad-mouth Gretchen. That way Gretchen would hear what Cady really thought without Cady knowing she was listening. After Regina hangs-up, Cady is very confused and thinks to herself, had survived my first three-way calling attack” (Mean Girls 48). [...]
[...] The typical person in today's society experiences an average of four-thousand mass media messages per day, most without the consumer's knowledge. Young teenagers are the most influential age group because they are still developing their mind, body, and souls. The mass media acknowledges that and directs much of the messages towards that age group, resulting in a staggering number of media messages presented to them in a single day. It is the unconscious messages that young teenagers are receiving that result in people similar to Andy and Claire from The Breakfast Club or Plastics” in Mean Girls. [...]
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