Regina George is the antagonist of the popular 2004 teen comedy, Mean Girls. She is the queen bee of North Shore High School. All the girls want to be her, all the boys want to date her and most importantly, everybody fears her – including the teachers. She has control over the school. If she wears an outfit, the next day, the entire girl population will try to mimic that same outfit. If she says something isn’t cool, everyone will agree with her. She makes the rules. She dictates the social order and no one questions her authority.
So how exactly did she obtain this power? According to Niccolò Machiavelli in his book, The Prince, “he who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command”(Chapter 22). And Regina George knows how to command. She exemplifies many of the qualities that Machiavelli believes makes for a successful leader.
Firstly, she knows how to present herself to the public. She’s gorgeous, intelligent, and appears confident. When asked, one fellow classmate had this to say, “Regina George is flawless.” Although this is clearly untrue, this is how the world perceives her. She puts on an act of being sweet, getting people to like her, but behind the scenes with her ‘army of skanks’ (her two best friends), her true character shows. At one point in the movie, she compliments a classmate on her skirt, but the second the girl walks away, she turns to her friend and said ‘that is the ugliest effing skirt I’ve ever seen.” She is selfish, superficial and insecure, yet her peers don’t see this side of her. Just as Machiavelli says in The Prince, “everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are” (Chapter 18).
Secondly, she understands that as a leader it is more important to be feared than to be loved. She doesn’t schmooze her way to the top, but rather she manipulates, deceives and schemes. Regina’s ruthlessness and her ability to manipulate and control those around her instill fear into her classmates. They do everything they can to avoid getting on her bad side because they know that will result in “social suicide”. Her threats are not empty- if you mess with her, there will be consequences. Yet despite this fear, her peers don’t hate her, but rather, they idolize and respect her.
Lastly, she knows what she wants and she is willing to go to any lengths to get it. Morals are of little importance to her and she doesn’t let other peoples’ feelings get in the way. She has a constant need to assert her dominance over her peers. When Regina found out that Cady had a crush on her ex-boyfriend, Aaron Samuels, Regina immediately began scheming. She got back with her ex just to prove that she was superior to Cady. The fact that she was using Aaron and hurting Cady wasn’t important, as long as she was getting the result she wanted. In the words of Machiavelli, she has an ‘ends justifies the means’ mentality, which in his opinion, is an effective trait for a leader.
Although Regina has many characteristics that Machiavelli would respect in a leader, she had two large downfalls which essentially led to her loss of power. She allowed someone (Cady) into her inner circle that had the ability to threaten her leadership and she allowed her insecurities to be exploited. She became too confident in her rule and failed to see the threat at hand. Cady and Janice targeted the qualities Regina had that made people admire her. They hurt her appearance not only in terms of beauty, but they made her loyal followers turn on her. They made people realize how horrible and imperfect she really was. If it were not for Cady and Janice, Regina would have maintained her power in the halls of North Shore High School in a Machiavellian manner.