Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Hollie Moat

GET UPDATES FROM Hollie Moat
 

The Mean Girls Are Winning

Posted: 07/09/2012 12:21

And thank God for that. In the time period that has elapsed since Lindsay Lohan's generation defining turn in what is quite frankly, one of the best films ever (even with the cop-out ending) the most popular female role in the movie world has evolved from bog-standard romantic heroine to something even scarier - manic pixie dream girl.

The term was coined by film critic Nathan Rabin after seeing Kirsten Dunst's performance in 2005 flop Elizabethtown, and is now the blanket term for those women in movies who are kooky and whimsical and teach the hero how to embrace life and adventure. It's been foisted on everyone from Scarlett Johansson to Natalie Portman (not poor old Lindsay Lohan though, who probably wishes it would be).

Fortunately for those of us in real-life who fail to live up to this Hollywood-spun criteria, some writers and actresses appear to be fighting back. In protest of this over-used cinematic trope, the heroines in a large number of recent hits have gone in the complete opposite direction. They're not cute, they're not misunderstood, they're not fiercely loyal or sweet or funny, they're just mean and quite horrible people.

It was the instigator of this whole mess who made me realise this - Kirsten Dunst, who has been photographed countless times this week in a series of killer outfits promoting her new film Bachelorette, in which she plays a grown-up mean girl who goes about carelessly ruining her friend's wedding. Her sidekicks are played by the ever sardonic Lizzie Caplan (Janice!!) and Isla Fisher who is as perky as usual, but in this instance it's because she's totally wired on cocaine. I've not seen the film, much to my frustration it hasn't actually been given a UK release date yet, but by all accounts this isn't so much a story of redemption so much as a look at how awful girls can really be.

And one of the summer's big success stories was Snow White and the Huntsman, where granted, drippy Kristen Stewart was cast as the heroine, but the real star of the show was Charlize Theron's sadistic Queen, who no doubt studio bosses knew perfectly well was going to be far more popular with anyone not a fourteen year old girl. Stewart's character has reportedly been dropped from the sequel (yes we all know there are other reason's but she obviously not worth hanging onto). Theron took on another bitchy anti-heroine role in this year's Young Adult, playing a main character's whose story revolves around going to her hometown to steal her first love away from his wife and kids.

And in the film that kicked off the girl star renaissance, Bridesmaids, the jokes were funny and the main character a total pain in the arse. I'm not entirely sure if Kirsten Wiig intended to be that irritating but she certainly was and the film is all the better for it.

Actresses like the surly but amazing Aubrey Plaza and Christina Hendricks, aka Queen of the sweetly delivered put-down are starting to be cast as leading ladies. The most talked about television show in America this year was Girls, and I'm sure even creator and star Lena Dunham would admit protagonist Hannah is totally someone you might end up slapping if you were friends with her in real life.

In film, like in fashion, trends come and go. There's no knowing when the Mean Girl might be knocked off her cinematic perch. But let's enjoy it for now, it's bad enough watching beautiful actresses onscreen - and when they're lovely characters you're only going to feel worse about yourself by the time the credits roll. But when they're bad? You can walk out of that cinema feeling a little superior. And bad girls rarely get the fairytale ending, even if their fate isn't necessarily doomed. And as anyone who's ever had their relationship compromised by too many viewings of The Notebook knows, that can only be a good thing...

 
FOLLOW UK ENTERTAINMENT