I don’t think my father, the inventor of Toaster Strudel, would be too happy to hear about this.
In honor of the movie’s tenth birthday, director Mark Waters talked with Vulture about how Mean Girls became a seminal classic… and how Hollywood sexism almost forced them to cut some of its most quotable quotes. Waters tells the site,
We had lots of battles with the ratings board on the movie. There was a line, ‘Amber D’Alessio gave a blow job to a hotdog,’ which eventually became ‘Amber D’Alessio made out with a hotdog.’ Which is somehow weirder! That’s the thing we found: When you’re trying to make a joke obey the rules and not use any bad words, it can actually become seamier, even.
While I think it’s really, really dumb that our culture tries to shield teenagers from hearing about teenage sex (since hiding important information and making kids terrified of their own bodies has worked so well in the past!), I can at least understand the logic behind editing that joke, since it’s pretty graphic. Okay. But the censorship attempts got much, much worse:
The line in the sand that I drew was the joke about the wide-set vagina. The ratings board said, ‘We can’t give you a PG-13 unless you cut that line.’ We ended up playing the card that the ratings board was sexist, because Anchorman has just come out, and Ron Burgundy had an erection in one scene, and that was PG-13. We told them, ‘You’re only saying this because it’s a girl, and she’s talking about a part of her anatomy. There’s no sexual context whatsoever, and to say this is restrictive to an audience of girls is demeaning to all women.’ And they eventually had to back down.
Um, yes. That’s not even “playing the sexism card”– that’s just calling out real-ass sexism. In case you’re unfamiliar with the joke, it takes place in a scene where Tim Meadows, as the school principal, is encouraging female students to open up with each other about issues they’re having with other girls. One girl raises her hand to confess that “Someone wrote in that book that I’m lying about being a virgin ’cause I use super-jumbo tampons, but I can’t help it if I’ve got a heavy flow and a wide-set vagina!”
Yeah, menstruation has nothing to do with sex. Vaginas spend most of their day having nothing to do with sex. Trying to “protect” teenage girls from hearing that their bodies can be functional, private, unsexy things is really messed up.
It’s good to know that people like Waters and screenwriter Tina Fey exist in showbusiness. Thanks for fighting the good fight, guys.
Via Vulture / Photos: Mean Girls (2004)