This data is so fetch.
Wednesday is the 10th anniversary of “Mean Girls,” the movie that made Lindsay Lohan a household name and grossed $129 million worldwide doing it. In “Mean Girls,” Gretchen Wieners didn’t make “fetch” (for the non-Plastics among you: fetch roughly equates to cool/awesome) happen, much to the satisfaction of queen bee Regina George. But a decade later, the social media age has.
I was curious about how “fetch” and other “Mean Girls” catchphrases have permeated American culture. After all, the film is “the most quotable, gif-able, and mash-up-able movie for the Internet age,” as my former colleague and “Mean Girls” authority Jessica Goldstein noted on The Washington Post’s Style blog. Some of the memorable lines — “You can’t sit with us!” — also inspired these 10 Huffington Post charts and diagrams, which are certainly eye candy, if not data-driven.
The rise of “Mean Girls” has dovetailed with the rise of the meme. As social media sites allowed their content to easily be shared from one user to another, cultural catchphrases and tropes were able to grow exponentially until they reached meme status. Tumblr, especially, has helped to propel “Mean Girls” memes into our Twitter feeds and onto our Facebook walls (even Hillary Clinton has personally been victimized by Regina George). Tumblr shared some stats with us: In the past month (March 12 through April 10), the community of 402,000 Tumblr users created 10,200 posts and generated 477,300 notes on posts that mentioned “Mean Girls” (either in the body of the text or in a tag). Most of the posts consisted solely of images.
Twitter provided us with some nuggets, too. On Oct. 3, which “Mean Girls” devotees call “#MeanGirlsAppreciationDay” on the platform, tweets about the film spike. In 2013, “Mean Girls” tweets on Oct. 3 were 31 times the daily average. (This search accounted for select phrases I asked Twitter to search for, so the numbers may be even larger.)
I also decided to take a peek at Google Trends to see which quotes fans have been searching for over time. The information I found was based on searches worldwide from 2005 through last month. Google Trends displays results relative to the total number of Google searches (the data is normalized and presented on a zero-to-100 scale). I picked five oft-repeated phrases (“It’s October 3rd” (blue line); “On Wednesdays, we wear pink” (red); “so fetch” (yellow); “Stop trying to make fetch happen” (green); and “You go, Glen Coco” (purple) to see how they stacked up. “You go, Glen Coco” picked up steam in 2007 and 2008, but fetch’s ascent began in 2010.
Note the sequential spikes of the blue line: On October 3rd, it’s always October 3rd. But as “Mean Girls” memes have taken off, October 3rds have gotten even more fetch.