Mean Girls director Mark Waters had to fight the MPAA over some lines in order to secure a PG-13 rating for the timeless, pink high school comedy.
As we approach the release of the upcoming movie adaptation of the Mean Girls musical, it's the perfect time to revisit the original movie as well as old interviews with the cast and crew. Among them, there's a surprising but overlooked 2014 chat which Vulture had with director Mark Waters, one of the most influential comedy filmmakers of the '00s. In it, the director unveiled the reasons why Mean Girls was originally rated R by the MPAA.
Unsurprisingly, Mean Girls was never meant to be a raunchy high school comedy despite all the satire it contains and the fun it had with high school stereotypes. It all came down to a handful of lines that had to be tweaked in order not to upset the MPAA's most conservative members, it seems. One big example was the line "Amber D'Alessio gave a blow job to a hot dog," which had to be changed to "Amber D'Alessio made out with a hot dog." The meaning didn't change much as the young adult and adult audiences weren't (and still aren't) as stupid as some people in Hollywood think, but the 'scary' term had to be vaporized.
Waters fought hard against the MPAA's judgment on other lines though. During the same interview, he explained how he drew "a line in the sand" over the "wide-set vagina." For those who can't remember, the line happens in the scene in the auditorium, when everyone talks about how they've been victimized by Rachel McAdams' Regina George. At this point, one of the teenage girls says that it's not her fault that she has "a heavy flow and a wide-set vagina." Waters argued the ratings board was being sexist: "We told [the MPAA], '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.'" He also cited Anchorman, rated PG-13, as a movie that included an erection, something that apparently didn't upset the MPAA as much as that harmless line about female anatomy. It was ultimately kept in the final cut.
There's probably a longer version of this story about a turf war that happened 20 years ago, and we hope to read it in full one day, as many filmmakers working today could learn a thing or two from Waters' adamant stance in the face of unchecked sexism in the film industry.
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