Mean Girls has become a pop culture phenomenon (Image: REX/Shutterstock)
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Mean Girls really is one of those films that you simply cannot escape from even if you wanted to. Boasting a score of 7/10 on IMDb and an impressive 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film’s popularity never seems to fade despite the 17 years that have passed by since the original release of the film.
It appears to not be budging as a long-standing cult classic with merchandise and makeup collections still launching and flying off the shelves, being grabbed by dedicated fans to this day.
Its popularity could be due to the fact that it resonates with young people as it explores just how strongly social dynamics can affect us. This paired with the fact that it’s packed full of laughable moments and you've got yourself a movie with a strong following.
Stereotypically, it’s not the type of film that you often see the subject of maths represented in but it was refreshing for audiences of Mean Girls to see a main character joining the mathletes team and subsequently going on to win the championship.
Breaking the outdated and exhausting stereotype that beauty and brains don’t go together.
If you aren’t familiar with Mean Girls, firstly I applaud you for the skill it takes to avoid such a hugely prevalent film and secondly, I urge you to watch the film pronto before returning and wearing pink on Wednesday.
The main character, Cady Heron, is made to join the mathletes team by teacher Ms. Norbury.
The clique that Cady finds within the mathletes soon gives her space to display her intelligence without fear of being judged by others in the concrete social hierarchy of North Shore High.
When we reach the crux of the movie, we see Cady enter the Illinois High School Mathletes State Championship finals, against Marymount Prep.
After 87 minutes on the clock in the championship, the teams remain at a tie and find themselves in a sudden death round when each team has to choose a member to take on the final round on their behalf.
Cady is picked and competes against character Caroline Krafft, the female member of the Marymount Prep team.
The two were asked to find the limit of the below equation:
The complex question that the two are asked to 'find the limit of'
Cady’s opponent Caroline hits back with a quick answer of -1 which is then deemed incorrect by the judge.
The pressure then falls on Cady to present the correct answer in order for North Shore High to win the championship.
A flashback ensues, glancing back to the week that Cady’s maths class covered the topic of limits.
Her internal dialogue questions why she couldn’t remember anything about limits before she hilariously realises that this was the week that love interest Aaron Samuels (who conveniently sits in front of her in maths class) had his hair cut. Something she was too busy admiring rather than paying attention to Ms. Norbury's lesson.
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Cady focuses hard and eventually manages to visualise what was on the chalk board behind Aaron’s head. We see equations appear under a heading of 'infinite limits' on the board as Ms. Norbury continues to write.
You can almost feel the cogs turning in Cady's mind as she says: “If the limit never approaches anything, the limit does not exist” under her breath. She looks towards the judge and declares with confidence: “The limit does not exist!”
An answer that secure North Shore High mathletes as the champions and has certainly made the rounds on the internet as a popular catchphrase and meme over the last 17 years.
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But does the answer hold up? Or is it just a line that the screenwriters thought only a small number of brainboxes would contest so just kept it in? We spoke to Ray Douse, director at Maths-Whizz, a virtual maths tutoring service.
He said: "The film was technically wrong to ask what was the limit of the equation because it wasn't an equation on the screen, it was an expression.
"Cady's answer was correct, however, because whether x approaches 0 from a positive or a negative number, the expression resolves into either positive or negative infinity, and infinity has no limits."
The more you know.