Mean Girls almost earned an R-rating for some jokes that both got cut and made the cut, and director Mark Waters thinks the film turned out even better for it.
Waters spoke with Vulture in 2014 to celebrate the teen comedy’s tenth anniversary and shared some behind-the-scenes insight, including his fight to win a PG-13 rating. He said there was some give and take between him and the ratings board. Ultimately, he caved where he thought he should, which made some of the humor even better. But he was unwilling to bend on one of the movie’s most classic jokes.
“There was the line, ‘Amber D’Alessio gave a blow job to a hot dog,’ which eventually became ’Amber D’Alessio made out with a hot dog.’ Which is somehow weirder!” he told the publication. “That’s the thing we found: When you’re trying to make a joke obey the rules and not use any bad words, it can actually become seamier, even.”
The ‘Mean Girls’ Director Accused the Ratings Board of Sexism
The board also tried to get Waters to remove or alter the joke from the student with the “wide-set vagina.” The reviewers said they absolutely wouldn’t give Mean Girls a PG-13 rating if it stayed because it was sexually suggestive. But Waters argued that she simply explained her anatomy and noted that other movies had gotten away with much worse. To him, there was a glaringly obvious reason his movie was singled out.
“We ended up playing the card that the ratings board was sexist because Anchorman had just come out, and Ron Burgundy had an erection in one scene, and that was PG-13,” he explained. “We told them, ‘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.’ And they eventually had to back down.”
As the publication pointed out, Mark Waters has made a career out of directing movies that empower women. So it’s no surprise that he went to bat for Mean Girls. From Freaky Friday to Just Like Heaven and Witches of East End, he prefers to have female protagonists. And his reason for that is quite simple.
“I find women much more interesting than dudes,” he admitted.
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