The Twenty SS20 Issue

Linear: Bad Girls Gone Good

By Jo Phillips

The term linear refers to a straight or almost straight line. So, to keep ‘in line’ with this concept, female characters in film who initially portrayed a bad girl streak, but eventually winded up on the straight and narrow path to Good Girl-ville are the main focus of the linear interpretation.

Rachel McAdams plays Regina George in Mean Girls
Rachel McAdams plays Regina George in Mean Girls

Taking a look at chick-flick favourite Mean Girls, the bad girl in question here is of course Regina George. Queen Bee of trio, The Plastics. Her long blond hair and perfect pink lips do little to disguise her malicious ways. When she befriends newcomer Cady whom she refers to as “kinda socially retarded and weird”, the backstabbing gets out of hand. The ‘Burn Book’, which is a book that is used to bully classmates, becomes the final catalyst that eventually disbands The Plastics. Regina becomes a different person as a result. She swaps bitch-talking sessions for active sports lessons and starts smiling at her classmates rather than laughing at them. Invariably, she becomes a nicer person by the end.

Rose Byrne plays Helen Harris in Bridesmaids
Rose Byrne plays Helen Harris in Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids is another movie that displays a strong character with ruthless tendencies, referring to Helen Harris the 3rd. Helen is Annie’s arch-rival as the other best friend of bride Lillian. Helen is a preened, designer-wearing wife of a successful businessman who happens to work with Lillian’s husband. Her sugary sweet smile doesn’t fool pastry-chef Annie, as she does everything in her power to distance Annie from Lillian. Pushing Annie over the edge during the bridal shower, causing her to act erratically by immersing herself in a giant cookie and shout profusely at the bride, it’s Helen that comes out on top. Helen plays the secret evil villain well, but a softer side is represented in the car scene as she apologises to her rival and explains that she doesn’t have many female friends. Alas, Helen Harris the 3rd bypasses her pretentious title and an insecure, but kind heart shines through.

Julia Stiles plays Kat Stratford in 10 Things I Hate About You
Julia Stiles plays Kat Stratford in 10 Things I Hate About You

In 10 Things I Hate About You, it’s Julia Stiles’ character Kat Stratford that plays a young woman with an attitude problem. She seemingly hates the world and in particular, Joey Donner who has a crush on her younger sister, Bianca. She retaliates by crashing into his expensive car and forces her father to put a ban on Bianca dating Joey. Later in the movie, Kat shows a more humane side when she tells her sister she is in fact looking out for her as Joey is only looking for one thing. She becomes a completely new person when she falls for Patrick, the only guy in school who is suited to Kat’s outspoken nature. After a few hurdles along the way, she finishes up as love-struck teenager who still likes playing kick-ass rock music.

The life lesson here is to note that these characters are in no way straight-laced Susans and may well remind you of the girls you hated back in high school. However, they managed to reach that linear shaped ray of light at the end of the tunnel they were hiding in for so long. Thus, revealing their inner good girl. That popular girl who used to make snide remarks about you in class? She could now be a do-gooder who is regular at church to pay penance for her past sins……