Okay, you might want to be sitting down when I tell you this, but I watched Mean Girls for the first time a couple weekends ago. I was pretty well acquainted with… well, nearly every single line in the movie from having read the internet, although I got a good laugh out of “Four for you Glen Coco, you go Glen Coco,” as it was just about the only quote in there that I hadn’t known was from Mean Girls. But I decided it was probably time to actually experience the movie, and stop trying to absorb it only from cultural diffusion.
So yeah, I knew next to nothing about Mean Girls other than that a lot of parts of the internet that I respect and enjoy are obsessed with quoting it and that it’s about high school, not, for example, that it was written by Tina Fey. Rest assured, these gaping holes in my knowledge have been filled, and so now I completely understand how against the message of the film it is for MTV to bleep a wide swath of non-curse-words, including “vagina,” when it aired on the network this weekend… but not “whore” or “slut.”
Ramou Sarr of Hello Giggles brought the issue up in this post, after noticing that MTV’s censors had decided to bleep out not just swear words but also “homosexual,” “gay,” “lesbian,” and “vagina.”
I presume that MTV’s reasoning for this was to reflect the needs and wants of their demographic of those teens and young adults in the under 25 crowd… Yes, using the word “gay” as an insult is offensive and we need to be mindful of our language and the use of not just this word, but all of our words. Yet there are plenty of people, young adults and teens among them, who self-identify as homosexual, gay, or lesbian. They aren’t slurs…
It was particularly interesting that in a movie whose message was about the problematic ways in which young women behave towards one another, “lesbian” and “vagina” were censored, but “whore” and “slut” were not.
Indeed, Mean Girls is pretty clear on its ideas about folks being shamed for their bodies, sexual behavior, sexuality, or perceived sexuality. I have no doubt that MTV was trying to do some good here, but it seems an awful lot like some folks watching a movie with out actually watching it.
You can read Sarr’s whole post on the odd censorship here.