Today’s Painting Pictures post is a fill-in by yours truly about my favorite Third Culture Kid movie, Mean Girls. I can’t think of many TCK movies, so it wasn’t a tough choice to make. As you read the following list replace all things ‘America’ with your own passport country. There is nothing earth-shattering in this list, there are much more comprehensive and hilarious ones out there. Like this on Buzzfeed: 31 Signs You’re a Third Culture Kid and this on Denizen: 10 Ways to Know You are Dining with a Global Nomad. Side note – if you don’t follow Denizen, you need to.
Mean Girls and Third Culture Kids
Cady is an America raised by zoologist parents somewhere in Africa. She returns to the US for high school when her mother accepts a university position there. She transitions from flannel shirt to over-sized pink polo to ultra-sexy miniskirt and over the course of the clothing transition, she learns how to navigate the hallways, gossip, and convoluted relationships of an American high school. She also learns how to embrace her uniqueness and her own gifts, settling into a middle place between math geek and ultra-clique.
You Are Either a Third Culture Kid or in the Movie Mean Girls If:
- You think Ashton Kutchner is a band
- You greet the African American students with a cheery, “Jambo!”
- You compare the behavior of American high school students to animals in heat
- You love math because it is the same in every country
- You can fool your frenemies into eating super-caloric bars by pretending everyone in Africa reads Swedish
- You relate abnormally well with adults
- Your parents treat your first day of high school like the first day of Kindergarten – photos, hugs, tears and all
- Your parents’ jobs dictate what continent you live on
- You don’t know anything about American fashion
- You don’t know American slang
- You have to handle questions like “So, if you’re from Africa, why are you white?”
I first watched it on an airplane, flying from Djibouti to Minnesota in 2004, which I find fantastically appropriate. Of course there are a few obnoxious bits and traditional stereotypes. I’m not saying this is deep, quality, life-changing film here. Like the fact that the main character Cady lived in the ever-generic “Africa” complete with tall, traditionally clothed and equally generic African men and the ubiquitous safari animals. But I do like to see a movie character represent (to some degree) my own cultural, fashion, and social confusion.
What TCK movies would you recommend?