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‘Mean Girls’ Has a One-Day Run on TikTok

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Cady Heron, the central character of the 2004 comedy film “Mean Girls,” found herself in a new environment once more. However, this time, it wasn’t a daunting high school cafeteria filled with cliques; it was the realm of TikTok. Paramount Pictures decided to release the movie on TikTok in 23 snippets, ranging from 60 seconds to nearly 10 minutes.

In these video clips, viewers could see Lindsay Lohan donning pink on Wednesdays and commemorating October 3rd, known as “Mean Girls Day” among the movie’s devoted fans. While TikTok is teeming with clips borrowed from movies and TV shows, it has rules against copyright infringement. TikTok representatives stated that they work with studios to remove copyrighted content and will ban accounts that repeatedly violate intellectual property policies.

However, some users modify the clips to bypass these restrictions. They may crop or add filters, adjust the film speed, or even manipulate the audio to avoid detection. Nonetheless, TikTok remains a platform where users watch chopped-up movies and shows, introducing them to content they might have otherwise overlooked.

For example, Elizabeth Kidd got hooked on “Call the Midwife,” a BBC drama, thanks to TikTok’s abbreviated version that skips over less exciting parts of the show. Alex Kim, a 25-year-old TikTok creator and pediatric nurse, admitted to watching movies without even knowing their titles.

Even without Paramount’s involvement, it was straightforward for users to watch the entire “Mean Girls” movie on TikTok. An anonymous movie-clips account posted it, and the clips received over 50 million views. While Paramount may have been aware of this, they chose not to take immediate action, suggesting that they might benefit more from the publicity generated by millions of people watching snippets of their film.

A Paramount representative mentioned that the one-day appearance of “Mean Girls” on TikTok aimed to raise awareness of the film for a potential new audience. Other entertainment companies have also experimented with TikTok, posting episodes of TV shows and series in parts.

Michael D. Smith, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, suggests that studios may find it more sensible to use TikTok to create buzz for older films rather than new ones. Paramount, for instance, announced a movie based on the musical adaptation of “Mean Girls” shortly after its TikTok release.

While some fans celebrated “Mean Girls” on TikTok, some writers and filmmakers expressed concerns about the disrespect shown by studios when slicing a movie into parts and making it freely available. Questions also arose about whether the various contributors to the film would receive compensation for its appearance on social media.

Ultimately, TikTok’s movie clips may encourage users to revisit the original source material, as was the case for Elizabeth Kidd, who tried streaming full episodes of “Call the Midwife” after her TikTok experience.

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