Life in an unjust community: A Hollywood view of high school moral life

David Resnick

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    3 Scopus citations


    This article analyses the film Mean girls (2004) as a window on popular notions of the moral life of American high schools, which straddles Kohlberg's Stage 2 and 3. The film presents loyalty to peer group cliques as a key value, even as it offers an individualist, relativist critique of that loyalty. Gossip is the main transgression in this tale of mundane moral life, and the school's failure to create a sense of community allows violence to erupt among the eleventh grade girls when the gossip gets out of hand. The sex education classes are a biting critique of 'values education' as adult hypocrisy and indoctrination. Gender-related issues of caring (beginning with the film's title) are discussed, as is the anomalous portrayal of immanent justice. Strategies for improving the moral climate of this fictional school are discussed from both liberal and communitarian points of view.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)99-113
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Moral Education
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 2008


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