Mean Girls - the Hero's Journey

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Explore through any film of your choice using either Vogler's, Voytilla's or Cochrane's model, the concept of the Hero Journey as discussed by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero of A Thousand Faces. 

In a world whereby diverse cultures and religions collide amongst the disparate and polarized people of our planet, there are few pervading threads that adhere the seams of human life and experience as vividly and profoundly as mythology. Emerging from the first primordial peoples of the earth, from the Occident to the Orient, mythology appears to be an almost innate and inbuilt feature of the human psyche; as religion fuels the contention of superhuman gods who perhaps once sowed the seeds of life, mythology yields the direction and guidance that we all individually require whilst balancing on the beam of existence. Timeless in nature and endlessly influential, the mythic structure reflects the journey we all experience from the cradle to the grave, whereby the fantastical monsters and heroes of yesterday now act as allegorical agents for surviving the trials and obstacles of today. These archetypes, the mystic guides we associate wholeheartedly with fantasy and exaggeration, are found not only in ancient scriptures and folklore, but also deep within the recesses of our unconscious where these characters facilitate the uncertain and perilous path of living. They exemplify how the human psyche sculpts separate dimensions to our personalities to cope with the theatrics the world stage may throw at us, whereby psychologist Carl Jung (1961) identified a particularly strong correlation between dream characters and the mythic archetypes; he postulates that they are both originating from the same source, the collective unconscious, whereby the human psyche manifests itself through mythic figures in dreams. (Jung, 1961) Myths are therefore psychologically accurate; they represent the inner mechanics of our minds, the universal cogs and gears constantly rotating the Cosmogonic Cycle of our lives (Campbell, 1949). And although one may regard mythology to be slowly sinking amidst contemporary practices, the indwelling interconnection between mythic archetypes and the human psyche is forever omnipresent; the bond is imperviously shielded from fragmentation because it is integral to human existence. Anthropologist Joseph Campbell is particularly familiar with the mythic structure, whereby his text ‘A Hero with a Thousand Faces’ has had colossal impact within the mythic sphere. Pioneering a study regarding the hero’s journey, Campbell unearthed an intrinsic mythological passage, the monomyth, whereby the heroes and legends of yesteryear all encountered corresponding journeys to enlightenment (Campbell, 1949). Adapting his concept, Christopher Vogler explores the hero’s journey in his text ‘The Writer’s Journey’, whereby this monomyth is clearly prevalent throughout the modern film industry; specifically, the film ‘Mean Girls’ exemplifies the hero’s journey whereby Campbell’s and Vogler’s theories manifest on the silver screen.

Emigrating from Africa to America, the audience meets protagonist Cady Heron, a teenage girl who has only experienced education in the comfort of her own home. Automatically, one can detect her hero identity as ‘Heron’ derives from the Greek ‘heros’ meaning ‘hero.’ Her new Western lifestyle enforces an adventure upon her. She must integrate into the public school system, whereby hostile encounters seek to destroy her. All that was familiar has vanished, her habitual light faded into darkness. The audience is aware Cady will undergo the most dramatic transformation because she will experience a journey of self-discovery and realisation, a fundamental attribute within the hero’s journey whereby ‘…the nuclear moment when, while still alive, he [the hero] found and opened the road to the light beyond the dark walls of our living death’ (Campbell, 1949, p.259). The little girl in the big city, the orphaned child...
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