This morning, the White House Twitter account posted a photo of lovable First Dog Bo in the Oval Office, looking expectantly at the camera, with a caption that references a line in the beloved high school comedy Mean Girls. People went wild.
Bo, stop trying to make fetch happen. pic.twitter.com/Ez6hWGFpFc— The White House (@whitehouse) August 13, 2013
See, it's a double entendre: Being a dog, Bo wanted to play fetch, but also "Stop trying to make fetch happen" is a withering line delivered by Rachel McAdams in the 2004 comedy. So the White House, or its Twitter intern at least, made a Mean Girls joke. Which means it's time to be done with those.
Who knows what exact alchemy it is that makes a movie an obsessed-over, forever-quoted phenomenon, but it happened to Mean Girls something fierce. Which is fine. The movie, written by a just-about-to-be-huge Tina Fey, is clever and quick and just the right amount of feel-good. For a certain subset of young folks, mostly millennial girls and gay boys, it's a touchstone, an ideal moment-in-time comedy that fused itself to their souls in their formative years and will never really leave them. It's their Clueless, that movie being the one that burned itself into my brain when I saw it in a theater (with my dad!) at 12 years old. So it's understandable that it would be a frequent source of nostalgic references and callbacks. But it's all gotten to be too much.
The problem, really, is two-fold. I will admit the more personal, more shameful part up front. Really, I don't like that Mean Girls has assumed cultural dominancy because it makes me feel old, as if my constantly quoted cult movies — Dazed and Confused, Clueless, Empire Records — are old hat. That's a terrible feeling, not unlike the sorrowful thud of dread that filled me yesterday when I had to look up what "Don't Drop That Thun Thun" was after some 23-year-old I follow on Twitter posted his second joke about it. So yes, part of my disdain for the Mean Girls joke is that it alienates me, points a finger at my ever-growing distance from the white-hot galactic center of culture. I'll cop to that. I just have a lot of feelings.
But the other problem is the simple fact that Mean Girls jokes are just too easy. They're so there, so on the surface. Yes, a wittily dropped reference, sparingly placed here and there, can still be appreciated, but people have said "Stop trying to make fetch happen" so many times the words have lost all meaning. (That sentence is itself a reference to something. Do you get it?) It's all been said too much. There's nothing special, or funny even, about being one of the millions who bark "You go Glen Coco" or invoke the name of Shane Oman or any of the other Mean Girls things. (Guys, Thought Catalog wrote a post all about Mean Girls quotes. Shouldn't that be proof enough?) It's the new Saved by the Bell, a show referenced so many times that I don't think anyone knows what they're even referencing anymore. SBTB exists only as reference. Mean Girls is at least, unlike SBTB, not referenced ironically, but the dead horse has been beaten just as badly.
It's time to move on. We've all had our Mean Girls fun, some way more than others, and we should leave it alone now. There's a world of movies and television shows and, I dunno, Internet things out there be devoured by us pop culture-referencing monsters. Let's explore all that life has to offer, rather than dwell on this one, overly exposed thing. Don't you want more? Don't you want something new? I think you do.
Just for good measure, here is a list of acceptable and unacceptable movies (and a few TV shows) to quote/reference/etc. I hope you find it helpful.
Acceptable: Home Alone, Jurassic Park, The Hours, Wet Hot American Summer, High School Musical, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Game of Thrones, Friends (yes), all Christopher Guest movies
Unacceptable: Mean Girls, Anchorman, Austin Powers (though that's having a small resurgence), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (specifically "You know how I know you're gay"), Parks and Recreation (specifically Ron Swanson)
Fading: Harry Potter
Rising: The Newsroom