TIME

The 450 Companies That Still Have Indian Mascots

A federal agency has ruled that the Washington Redskins' name disparages Native Americans. Hundreds of other companies use Native American images to sell their wares. Here's what their logos look like

The Washington Redskins lost their trademark (pending appeal) on Wednesday after a federal agency ruled that the football team’s name is “disparaging to Native Americans.”

While the team will no longer have exclusive rights to its name, it is far from the last business to use Native American imagery in its merchandise. The United States Patent and Trademark Office categorizes all logos by the images they contain. Those records include over 600 active trademarks for insignia that feature Native American men and women, registered to 450 different companies. In most cases, no one is accusing these companies of disparagement. If faced with an action the agency evaluates whether trademarks were disparaging at the time of their registration.

Here’s a look at all the Native American imagery trademarked in the U.S. from the now-defunct Redskins logo to Land O’Lakes butter and American Spirit cigarettes.

Tap or mouse over a logo to see the owner and description.

 

TIME

The Searchable Guide to Every Word in Hillary Clinton’s Books

The ideas, places and names checked in Hillary Clinton's books from 'It Takes a Village' to 'Living History' to the just-published 'Hard Choices'

Hillary Clinton’s new book, Hard Choices, is so heavy on foreign policy that it’s easy to forget that this is the same woman who wrote It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us (not to mention “Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets“). For a quick-and-dirty primer on how Clinton’s interests have evolved since she was First Lady, use the tool below to compare the prevalence of individual words in all three of her major books. And for those who ever hovered around Clinton’s orbit, the search below also functions as a handy guide to your changing status in Clinton land.

There’s more to a book than the list of words in it–the order they appear in bears some significance–but there are still plenty of lessons to glean from this sort of analysis. Search for “Chelsea” or “Bill” and you’ll see that Living History, Clinton’s 2003 memoir, is far more concerned with her personal life than her new tome. (This analysis is not case sensitive, but a spot check on “Bill” suggests the former President, not the legislative document, is the main target.) The word “mother” racks up 156 mentions in Clinton’s 1996 book, 215 in the 2003 publication and 34 this time around.

Hard Choices, meanwhile, is peppered with the names of foreign dignitaries and other foreign policy figures. “Kofi” (Annan) and “Bibi” (Netanyahu)–both figures who were around during a lot of the time period covered in Living History–go from bit players to important figures. Meanwhile, the luminaries of the Clinton White House are now out of the picture or at least the books. Neither James Carville, Paul Begala nor George Stephanopoulos merit a mention in Clinton’s new book. “President,” meanwhile, has surged: 37 mentions in 1996, 498 in 2003 and 770 today.

Methodology

Words are not case-sensitive and are not grouped by plurals or verb tenses. The counts do not include introductions, appendices or indices.

TIME

The Political Memoir Title Generator

To mark the publication of Hillary Clinton's Hard Choices, create a book name of your own

There are hard choices and then there are hard choices—like what to call your political memoir. As with politics, the genre seems encourage a certain brand of safe conformity. When in doubt, politicians can try one resolute word like Duty (Robert Gates) or Leadership (Rudy Giuliani). If you’re Barbara Bush and you’re writing a memoir, you can go with, well, A Memoir. America is a always a good place to start whether you’re An American Son (Marco Rubio), have lived An American Life (Ronald Reagan) or happen to know America By Heart (Sarah Palin). Bravery of all shades is to be celebrated from The Audacity of Hope (Barack Obama) to A Fighting Chance (Elizabeth Warren) to the Courage to Stand (Tim Pawlenty).

Still having trouble coming up with a title for a political memoir of your own? We’ll do the work for you. Click below to create a new title and share the results.

TIME

Will Your Baseball Team Make the Playoffs?

Last updated June 25.

As a Phillies fan, I’ve become adept at constructing outlandish scenarios for how the team can pull it together. For the millions of fans who root for struggling baseball teams, it’s this faith in baseball miracles that keeps us hanging on. The chart above is your guide to how often those miracles actually happen.

In mid-May, when the Phils were still dog paddling around a .500 record, I started to wonder how many teams in their same position at that point in the season went on to make the playoffs. Using Retrosheet.org, I pulled the box scores for the 43,404 regular season games that have been played since 1996, the first full season after Major League Baseball went to a three-round playoff system with eight teams.

By the morning of June 8, for example, the Phillies were carrying a 25-35 record. As it happens, 18 teams since 1996 have had that same record after 60 games. Only one of them, the 2005 Houston Astros, made the playoffs. Judging by history, in other words, the 2014 Phillies had only a 6 percent chance of seeing the postseason on June 8. (The list at the bottom of this article has always-current standings based on these odds.)

Of course, every season is different, and to make the postseason a ball club is competing against the other teams in the league, not other teams in history. Flukes and miracles do happen. (Recall that the Padres won the NL West in 2005 with an 82-80 record.) Judging by history, however, teams like the Phillies have virtually no chance whatsoever to turn things around. It’s over long before it’s over.

Methodology

The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet. The data does not include tie-breaker games played among wild card contenders or the small handful of tie games that have occurred since 1996.

TIME

The 100 Most Obsessed-Over People on the Web

George W. Bush is more popular than Obama, Beyonce beats the Pope--and the mysterious clout of professional wrestlers. The ultimate online power list. Plus see how 20,000 of the world's best known people stack up

 

Every April, TIME publishes a list of the 100 most influential people in the world, drawing on a year’s worth of headlines and the editorial judgment of editors from across the magazine. It’s an unapologetically subjective undertaking; there are no batting averages or on-base percentages when it comes to a slippery subject like influence.

I don’t have much to do with this list, but from the sidelines I got to wondering whether there was a quantitative way to produce something similar. Wikipedia was a logical place to start since it has both unprecedented breadth–there are over 600,000 living people on the site–and a remarkably consistent structure for each entry.

Based upon my research, here are the 100 most obsessed-over people on the web.

 

NAME SCORE
1.
George W. Bush
43rd President of the United States
65.6
2.
Barack Obama
American politician, 44th President of the United States
45.3
3.
Madonna
American singer, actress, author
37.63
4.
Beyoncé
American singer-songwriter, actress, and fashion designer
36.73
5.
Janet Jackson
American singer-songwriter and actress
36.37
6.
Silvio Berlusconi
Italian politician, entrepreneur, and media proprietor
35.53
7.
Bob Dylan
American rock and folk musician
34.46
8.
Pope Benedict XVI
265th pope
34.02
9.
Mitt Romney
American politician
33.87
10.
Bill Clinton
42nd President of the United States.
33.64
11.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, U.S. First Lady
33.34
12.
Christina Aguilera
American singer and songwriter
33.13
13.
Mariah Carey
American singer
32.6
14.
Eminem
Hip Hop rapper
32.18
15.
Al Gore
45th Vice President of the United States
32.02
16.
Britney Spears
American musician, singer, songwriter, actress, author
31.71
17.
Hulk Hogan
American professional wrestler
31.64
18.
Roger Federer
Swiss tennis professional
30.32
19.
Paul McCartney
English rock musician
30.26
20.
Jimmy Carter
President of the United States
29.8
21.
Cristiano Ronaldo
Portuguese footballer
29.49
22.
David Beckham
Professional footballer
29.21
23.
George H. W. Bush
41st president of the United States.
29.17
24.
Big Show
Professional wrestler; actor
28.86
25.
John McCain
U.S. Senator from Arizona; 2008 Republican Presidential nominee
28.8
26.
Shaquille O’Neal
Professional basketball player
28.78
27.
Vladimir Putin
2nd President of the Russian Federation
28.74
28.
Fidel Castro
President of Cuba
28.7
29.
John Kerry
U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, 2004 presidential nominee for the Democratic Party
28.5
30.
Cher
singer, actress, songwriter, author, entertainer
28.27
31.
Rafael Nadal
Spanish tennis player
28.18
32.
Michael Jordan
Professional National Basketball Association player and businessman
27.87
33.
Jeff Gordon
American stock car racing driver
27.56
34.
John Cena
Professional wrestler, an amateur hip hop musician and actor
27.4
35.
The Undertaker
Professional wrestler
27.4
36.
Lady Gaga
American pop singer
27.27
37.
Noam Chomsky
linguist, psychologist, and activist
27.13
38.
Kane (wrestler)
Professional wrestler and actor
27.03
39.
Edward Snowden
System administrator
26.83
40.
Tony Blair
Politician; Former Prime minister of the United Kingdom
26.75
41.
Steven Spielberg
American film director and producer
26.75
42.
Lionel Messi
Argentine footballer
26.72
43.
Serena Williams
American multi-champion tennis player
26.68
44.
Kobe Bryant
Professional basketball player
26.6
45.
Sarah Palin
Governor of Alaska
26.46
46.
Clint Eastwood
Actor, director, film producer, composer, politician
26.36
47.
Kurt Angle
An American professional wrestler, amateur wrestler, and 1996 Olympic gold medalist
26.16
48.
Carrie Underwood
American country music singer; ”American Idol” winner
26.1
49.
Jean Chrétien
20th Prime Minister of Canada (1993 – 2003)
25.84
50.
Dwayne Johnson
Professional wrestler, film actor
25.68
51.
Taylor Swift
Singer and songwriter
25.59
52.
LeBron James
American basketball player
25.53
53.
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Austrian-American bodybuilder, actor, politician
25.51
54.
Dick Cheney
Vice President of the United States
25.5
55.
Yulia Tymoshenko
Ukrainian politician
25.37
56.
CM Punk
Professional wrestler
24.97
57.
Bret Hart
Retired Professional Wrestler
24.84
58.
David Cameron
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
24.83
59.
Marine Le Pen
French politician
24.72
60.
Eric Clapton
guitarist, singer, and composer
24.66
61.
Novak Djokovic
Serbian tennis player
24.55
62.
Joe Biden
Vice President of the United States
24.3
63.
Jennifer Lopez
Entertainer
24.29
64.
Peyton Manning
American college football player, professional football player, quarterback, Super Bowl champion
24.19
65.
Nicole Scherzinger
American singer, dancer
24.15
66.
Rihanna
Singer, songwriter
24.13
67.
Shakira
Colombian singer
24.03
68.
Sachin Tendulkar
Indian cricketer
23.98
69.
Ron Paul
U.S. libertarian, physician, politician, obstetrician
23.95
70.
Pope Francis
266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church
23.94
71.
Chris Jericho
Professional wrestler, musician, television host and author
23.93
72.
Maria Sharapova
Russian tennis player
23.86
73.
Edge (wrestler)
Professional wrestler
23.78
74.
Thierry Henry
Footballer
23.43
75.
MC Hammer
Rapper, entrepreneur, actor
23.34
76.
Kelly Clarkson
Singer-songwriter, actress
23.32
77.
Michael Schumacher
Racing driver, Formula 1 driver, 7 times world champion
23.25
78.
Yoko Ono
Artist
23.11
79.
Donald Trump
Businessman, television personality
23.02
80.
Elton John
English musician
23.01
81.
Rey Mysterio
Mexican American Professional wrestler
23
82.
Elizabeth II
Queen regnant of the Commonwealth realms
22.99
83.
Rob Van Dam
American film actor and professional wrestler
22.99
84.
Magic Johnson
Retired American professional basketball player
22.95
85.
Pink (singer)
Singer
22.92
86.
Triple H
Professional wrestler
22.81
87.
Kylie Minogue
pop singer, songwriter, actress
22.81
88.
Kanye West
American recording artist, record producer
22.8
89.
Andy Murray
Tennis player
22.78
90.
Celine Dion
Canadian singer and actor
22.76
91.
50 Cent
Rapper, entrepreneur, investor, and actor
22.74
92.
Derek Jeter
American professional baseball player, shortstop
22.67
93.
Paris Hilton
American celebrity
22.61
94.
Ric Flair
Professional wrestler
22.56
95.
Oprah Winfrey
Talk show host
22.53
96.
Michele Bachmann
American politician
22.23
97.
Diego Maradona
Argentine footballer and manager
22.19
98.
Nawaz Sharif
Pakistani politician
22.08
99.
Shahrukh Khan
Film actor
22.07
100.
Lance Armstrong
American professional road racing cyclist
22.06

 

Methodology

To begin with, I collected some data on each of these pages: The number of words, the number of times it has been edited, and a handful of other measurements. A very simple algorithm combines these factors into a single estimate of the page’s “prominence,” an imperfect term for how important a person is on the site.

I gathered eight statistics for each living person’s Wikipedia page:

  • Number of words
  • Number of links to other Wikipedia pages
  • Number of external links (which are typically references)
  • Number of categories the person is in
  • Total number of revisions to the page
  • Number of unique individuals who have edited the page as a signed-in editors
  • Number of anonymous edits
  • Number of vandalisms, as identified in editing notes

Once this data was in place, I used a statistical method known as “principal component analysis” to reduce these values into a smaller set of scores. The full methodology, as well as the raw data for the top 100,000-or-so pages, is available on the GitHub page for this project. The code for crawling Wikipedia is also provided open-source in a separate GitHub repository.

One of the most curious findings is that professional wrestlers have amazingly detailed Wikipedia pages that often surpass heads of state in their breadth and detail. There are 15 current or former wrestlers in the top 100 people on this list.

Many thanks to Chris Franck, an assistant research professor in statistics at Virginia Tech, for his consultation during this analysis.

 

TIME

Every Execution in U.S. History in a Single Map

 

Read “Lethal Injection’s Fatal Flaws” from the May 26, 2014 issue of TIME.

Before his lethal injection was delayed at the eleventh hour by a federal appeals court Tuesday, Robert James Campbell was scheduled to become the 1,231st person to be executed by Texas since it joined the Union in 1845.

As Josh Sanburn writes in the magazine this week, capital punishment in the United States is at a crossroads as some states are having a difficult time finding the chemicals required for lethal injections.

The map above shows every legal execution by a state since 1776. Drag the red triangle to view the data at any point in time, or hit play to watch the map animate. Shrewd readers will note that the total figure in the lower righthand corner is significantly lower than the total in TIME’s chart of executions by method. This map only shows executions administered at the state level, not those implemented by the federal government or the military. Michigan, for example, has never executed someone since attaining statehood, but was the site to one federal execution.

Data for historical executions through 1976 are derived from research conducted by M. Watt Espy and John Ortiz Smykla. Data since the end of the hiatus come from the Death Penalty Information Center.

The source code for this project is available on Time’s GitHub page.

TIME

How Popular Will Your Name Be in 25 Years?

Wondering what to name your kid? Here is how every name will rise and fall in popularity over the next 25 years.

Popular names follow a familiar cycle: They become increasingly common as new parents jump on the bandwagon, only to peak and decline as everyone on the playground starts answering to the same name. Some old standards lie dormant for half a century before gradually returning–hello, Evelyn. Others skyrocket and decline in a few years (that’s you, Miley).

Parents who want to stay ahead of the curve have two major things to consider in a name: the present popularity of a name and where in its popularity cycle it currently sits. The first part is easy to get from the Social Security Administration, which published the most popular baby names of 2013 on Friday. (In the United States, Noah has unseated Jacob as the most popular boy’s name; Sophia still reigns supreme among girls.) The second is not so simple. Like stocks, hot names can stay dominant for a decade or flame out after a year.

The tool above, developed with Chris Franck, an assistant research professor in statistics at Virginia Tech, predicts how a name will rise or fall in the next 25 years by examining the performance of earlier names that followed similar patterns of popularity.

In the case of Adele, for example, our model found that the name is currently following a pattern very similar to names like Grace, Eva, and Lavinia, which were similarly popular in the early 20th century and enjoyed a comeback in the recent past. (Adele’s spike in popularity might have something to do with this one.) Because these names are farther along in their lifecycle, they offer some insight into what the next few years will look like for Adele.

Based on this method, here are a few predictions: Noah’s best days are behind him. We predict that 2013 was the most popular year the Biblical name will have in many years to come. Emma is very likely to be the top girl’s name of 2014. And keep your eyes out for Harrison and Emmett. Meanwhile, Sophia’s best days just might be behind her.

How it works

One can test a model like this by making predictions based on data from earlier years and seeing how those predictions compare to the actual results. Below is an image of how this method predicts the growth and decline of Madison, which peaked in 2001, based only on data about the name’s growth through 1990. By comparing Madison‘s early behavior to similar names (graphed here in gray), the model was able to produce a prediction (dashed line) that closely following the actual data (solid) over the next decade.

TIME

This model does not have the statistical rigor of a formal experiment, but it does produce surprisingly accurate results when tested against historical data. Others who have looked at baby names in detail have also found that first sound of in a name — the “K” sound in Katie and Christina or the “M” in Mary and Michaelalso rises and falls in popularity.

The source code for this project is available on Time’s GitHub page.

TIME

The Donald Sterling Fine Calculator

Let's say you own a basketball team and your ex-girlfriend caught you talking like an irrepressible racist. How much would you owe the NBA? Use our calculator to find out

On Tuesday afternoon, embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA and fined $2.5 million. That’s 0.001 percent of his reported $1.9 billion net worth. Ask and you shall receive, Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton.

TIME Education

Obama Thinks He Can Rate Colleges. Can You Do Better? (Interactive)

See how colleges stack up based on what you think is most important in a school

Last year, the Obama Administration announced a plan to assess schools on how well they serve their students, based on metrics like graduation rate, tuition, and the percentage of students who receive Pell Grants, the federally funded scholarships for low-income families. For a system that has yet to be put in place, the White House’s college ratings have created a great deal of panic.

To see how those ratings might play out, TIME gathered data for 2,500 college and universities and ranked them according to the proposed metrics. But we’ve left it to you to adjust how important each of those metrics should be. Adjust the sliders, and watch the the schools reshuffle.

As Haley Sweetland Edwards notes in the most recent issue of TIME, many college presidents are convinced that the ratings proposed by the Obama administration would fail to capture the value of their schools. The White House insists that far too many sub-par schools are cashing in on federal student loans and leaving their students in the lurch.

The White House is proposing to take a bunch a date of data about schools and determine a rank for each. This would produce an algorithm that functions in many ways like Google’s ranking of Web pages. In the case of search engines, the exact nature of this algorithm is a secret. The White House’s algorithm will presumably not be secret, meaning it will be quite easy for schools to game the system.

That sounds like a bad thing, but it doesn’t have to be. When algorithms work well, they reward good behavior. In the same way that the Google algorithm rewards sites that offer clear descriptions of the content and coherent navigation, a good college ranking algorithm could inspire schools to offer better grants to those who can’t afford the tuition and provide help for those at risk of dropping out. A poorly designed algorithm, meanwhile, could incentivize them to shut out students who have lower statistical odds of graduating.

The interactive at the top of this article presents a simplified rating system based on three qualities the White House has mentioned: Graduation rate, accessibility and affordability. For accessibility, the interactive uses the percentage of students who receive Pell Grants. For affordability, we’ve used the net cost paid by families who makes less than $110,000 a year and receive some form of aid.

By rewarding both accessibility and graduation rate, this system corners one of the trickiest problems facing schools looking to climb the rankings: Students from low-income backgrounds are statistically less likely to graduate. The most expedient way for a school to boost its graduate rate would be not to admit students in this cohort. Doing so, however, would theoretically hurt the school in the accessibility category more than it boosted the school in the graduation category, resulting in a drop in the ratings. At least, this is how a good White House algorithm would work. Fine-tuning the formula to work as advertised would require a sophisticated statistical analysis of the data. In the meantime, you can drag the sliders around to see which schools would rise to the top given existing numbers.

Methodology

All data comes from the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Each school is evaluated according to its six-year graduation rate, the percentage of full-time, first-time undergraduates receiving Pell grants and the net cost for students receiving any form of aid whose families make less than $110,000 a year. That figure is calculated by TIME as the weighted average net cost for students in each of the Department of Education’s reported income brackets. Where that data is not available, overall net cost (tuition and fees minus grants and scholarships) is used.

These three data points are standardized, so that each school’s score is the number of standard deviations above or below the mean. The app then adjusts these values according to the position of the sliders, sums the square roots of those values, and takes the square of the sum. (A detailed discussion of that method is available here.)

The classifications of schools come from the Carnegie classification system. Schools without a Carnegie class are not included.

Update, May 6, 2014: Several more schools were added to the dataset.

TIME

‘Mean Girls’ Is Not a Comedy. It’s Mythology.

From left: Lindsay Lohan as Cady, Amanda Seyfried as Karen, Rachel McAdams as Regina and Lacey Chabert as Gretchen in Mean Girls.
Michael Gibson—AP

The Tina Fey teen comedy premiered ten years ago this week. What explains the movie's success? Not Hollywood. Try James Joyce, Carl Jung and Bantu folklore

Saturday marks the 10-year anniversary of the world premiere of Mean Girls at Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome. Decennials are often an opportunity for sober reflection, and in that spirit, I would like to suggest that the Lindsay Lohan vehicle has been with us far longer than a decade. The film is widely considered to be a comedy or even a “teen movie,” but in fact, it is neither. Mean Girls is American mythology. Let us examine the evidence.

In broad terms, Tina Fey’s first film adheres to the critical superstructure known as the “monomyth,” as described by 20th-century mythologist Joseph Campbell:

A hero [Lohan's Cady Heron] ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder ["Girl World"]: fabulous forces ["the Plastics"] are there encountered and a decisive victory is won [Regina George and Aaron Samuels break up]: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons [popularity] on his fellow man [Gretchen Weiners and Karen Smith].

There is no question that Cady views this new world as both mystical and possessing of separate natural laws. “Having lunch with the Plastics,” she says in voice over, “was like leaving the actual world and entering ‘Girl World.’ And ‘Girl World’ had a lot of rules.”

As with James Joyce’s Ulysses, Mean Girls imposes a mythological structure on the mundane concerns of its hero. The particular myth from which Mean Girls draws its inspiration is not so well telegraphed, though Fey leaves us several clear signposts.

Like the original Ulysses, Cady is recently returned from her own series of adventures in Africa, where her parents worked as research zoologists. It is this prior “region of supernatural wonder” that offers the basis for the mythological reading of the film. While the notion of the African continent as a place of magic is a dated, rather offensive trope, the film firmly establishes this impression among the students at North Shore High School. To them, Africa is a monolithic place about which they know almost nothing. In their first encounter, Karen inquires of Cady: “So, if you’re from Africa, why are you white?” Shortly thereafter, Regina warns Aaron that Cady plans to “do some kind of African voodoo” on a used Kleenex of his to make him like her—in fact, the very boon that Cady will come to bestow under the monomyth mode.

Where in Africa Cady hails from is never made explicitly clear, but several clues greatly reduce the universe of possibilities. In a brief flashback to her “one other crush,” Nfume, a young Cady is speaking Afrikaans (according to the subtitles). On her first day of school, Cady greets the Unfriendly Black Hotties with “Jambo,” a Swahili greeting. After Cady has carelessly cleaned up after a house party, her mother notices that her “fertility vases of the Ndebele tribe” are misplaced. The Ndebele tribes are native to Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa, all places where at least part of the population speaks Afrikaans. Both Swahili and the Ndebele languages belong to the Bantu family, a branch of the Niger-Congo languages spoken among a network of sub-Saharan ethnic groups. This makes Bantu folklore a logical place to start our search.

Like many contemporary ethno-religious traditions, Bantu folklore often makes use of anthropomorphized animals, a form mimicked in Mean Girls‘ reciprocal use of zoomorphism (the depiction of humans in animal form). On several occasions, Cady imagines her peers transmogrified into great cats, monkeys, and other jungle dwellers. At Halloween, Cady observes, “the hard-core girls just wear lingerie and some form of animal ears.” At the mall, Janis Ian compares their teacher (played by Fey) to “a dog walking on its hind legs.”

Cady’s surname, Heron, is also both the name of a bird and phonemically similar to “hare.” This latter similarity is of particular note because so many of the Bantu folktales feature rabbits.

Armed with that clue, I can say with some confidence that Mean Girls is a retelling of the traditional Bantu fable “Ozibane! Zibane! Zibane!,” or “Dance Like That!,” as anthologized in the 1921 compendium Specimens of Bantu Folk Lore From Northern Rhodesia (modern-day Zimbabwe).

In the fable, Miss Rabbit encounters a group of girls drawing water at the river. The girls “gave some of their beads to Miss Rabbit, telling her to put them on. They further dressed her head with other beads, so that she looked just like a civilised little girl.” The ensemble then dances as the girls sing: “How well dressed she is! Uwî-i! Ozibane!”

Miss Rabbit returns the beads. The next day, the girls bring an apron for Miss Rabbit, redress her, and the dancing recommences. At the conclusion of the day Miss Rabbit does not return the clothes, but instead lures the girls into the forest, where they are devoured by hyenas. The story concludes: “nko kâfwida ka kâno:” “This is where the story dies.”

The corollary between the fable of the dancing rabbit and Mean Girls are nearly too obvious to state: An outsider is adopted by a group of girls who dress her up in their own clothes and adopt her into their social circle, while still regarding her as something of an outsider. (“I love her,” Regina says. “She’s like a Martian.”) Unbeknownst to them, the newcomer plans all along to sabotage them. She refuses to return clothes. (“I want my pink shirt back,” Damian shouts.) Instead, she leads them to ruin.

A few more corollaries: Close readers will hear an echo in Cady Heron’s mock-conclusion to the film in the fable’s final line: “And that’s how Regina George died.” (Here the expectations of modern cinema take over from the story’s natural conclusion.) The word for “bead” in Afrikaans, kraal, also bears a strong phonic similarity to “grool,” the portmanteau of “cool” and “great” that Cady accidentally coins in her first substantial conversation with Aaron. Finally, there is some suggestion that “hare” is a more accurate translation than “rabbit” given the available species of Leporidae in southern Africa.

The mythological record surrounding this particular tale is too scant to establish a phylogenic progression from Miss Rabbit (Hare) to Cady Heron, as is now all the rage among folkloricists. Having at least established Mean Girls‘ place in the broader context of Bantu oral traditions, we then turn its one role as a modern myth.

Carl Jung viewed myths as a portal into the “world of the archetype,” as the critic Stephen F. Walker phrases it, which compensates for the “imbalanced aspects of the individual conscious mind.” Mean Girls opens with a classic Jungian archetypal event: Separation from the parents. The film’s enduring popularity is owed in part to its satisfying the core aspect of a traditional myth: It is a story that offers us a way to navigate the “psychological dangers” of the world, to again quote from Campbell. The spectacular popularity of BuzzFeed’s “Which ‘Mean Girls’ Character Are You?” quiz is sufficient evidence that the film possesses a diversity of valid archetypes to which we might anchor ourselves.

The film satisfies several other aspects of valid mythopoeia: It has an internally consistent set of rules (“We only wear our hair in a ponytail once a week”), its own neologisms (grool, fetch, mathlete), and a battery of lines that are so easily repurposed that even the White House has gotten in on the fun. This is the essential aspect of the film that separates it from a movie that is merely popular. One who refers to “making fetch happen” is not merely quoting from a beloved movie. He or she is invoking a mythological story (that of trying, in vain, to pass off an invented motif as genuine), in the same manner that one might invoke Sisyphus to describe a never-ending labor. The great irony here, of course, is that Mean Girls is itself an invented mythology passing into the realm of folklore. Fetch, in other words, has happened.

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