Politics

How A ‘Mean Girls’ Quote Became A Stupid QLD Election Scandal

Intentionally misreading a joke for political gain? So not fetch.

Mean Girls queensland election

With the Queensland state election shortly upon us, Labor members have made an impressively disingenuous attempt to create a scandal out of a single Tweet by a Greens volunteer which references one of Mean Girls‘ most famous lines.

Back in September, Greens volunteer Joanna Horton tweeted out a screenshot of an article where South Brisbane MP Jackie Trad called the Greens “obsessed with themselves”.

She captioned it with a paraphrased quote from Mean Girls, making fun of Trad’s somewhat dramatic diss: “This party is the nastiest skank bitch I’ve ever met. DO NOT TRUST THEM. they are a fugly slut!!!!”.

In case you need a refresher, this is what Regina George writes in the Burn Book next to a photo of herself, in order to frame Cady, in the wildly popular and almost egregiously quoted film Mean Girls.

To clarify, the tweet, written to Horton’s less than 500 followers, was written from the perspective of Trad calling the Greens “fugly sluts”. Naturally, this was written up by Nine paper the Brisbane Times on October 9, with an article that eradicated any and all context.

“Politics in one of Queensland’s most hotly contested seats, South Brisbane, has turned ugly over a social media post,” wrote journalist Tony Moore.

“The Greens’ South Brisbane branch secretary posted on her personal Twitter account a news article quoting the electorate’s Labor MP, Jackie Trad, adding: ‘This party is the nastiest skank bitch I’ve ever met. DO NOT TRUST THEM. they are a fugly slut!!!!!” to the tweet.”

The article does not explain the tweet further, wilfully making it sound by omission like Horton is hurling abuse at Trad.

It also features quotes from Trad, who seems to believe the tweet is directing the insults towards her, despite it clearly saying “this party”. She also says it’s irrelevant that the words are from Mean Girls, as the intent is demeaning — which it would be, if the tweet was directed towards Trad, which it is not.

“The last thing we need in politics is women attacking women”, she says. “This kind of language directed towards women really has no place at any time.”

Outgoing Labor MP Kate Jones is also quoted calling for Horton’s firing, calling it a “direct attack on Jackie Trad” that overstepped anything she’d encountered in her career.

In the article, the Greens say the tweet is a reference to Mean Girls, but don’t clarify that it’s clearly not about Trad — assumedly because they assumed the paper wouldn’t wilfully misread the tweet.

After the article’s publication, Griffith MP Terri Butler then publicly called out Greens senator Larissa Waters for literally once standing next to the spokesperson quoted in the article.

Victorian Labor MP Josh Burns also jumped in, questioning why the Greens were doing “nothing” to call out the misogyny of joking Trad said something Regina George said.

There’s a lot of discourse around this single tweet now by an unpaid volunteer — so much so that ‘Mean Girls’ trended on Australian Twitter on Monday. Great!

Horton has since commented on the resulting attention.

“The @brisbanetimes, in reporting this ‘story’, included only my caption (“this party is the nastiest skank bitch I’ve ever met etc”) and not the screencap of Jackie’s comments to which it referred. That made it seem like I was calling the ALP a nasty skank bitch and a fugly slut,” she writes.

“Very quickly this was twisted into my calling Jackie Trad those things, which simply wasn’t true even in the most disingenuous reading of the tweet.”

“In context, there’s virtually no controversy, but political smear campaigns are all about removing context. I had to watch doctored images & completely false quotes attributed to me circulate rapidly around the internet, and I knew there was nothing I could do about it.”

“It’s hard to exaggerate how sick & powerless that makes you feel. I haven’t been able to eat or sleep properly for days, and I’ve been basically having a constant low-level panic attack since the story broke.”
Of course, that was what @QLDLabor wanted. (That and to undermine the Greens in South Brisbane, who look set to take Trad’s seat.) I’m a literal nobody – a 29 y/o volunteer w/ fewer than 500 followers – but they were happy to make my life hell to claw back a fraction of ground.”

Horton also thanked Greens South Brisbane candidate Amy MacMahon for standing by her: “It would’ve been easy to throw me under the bus,” she wrote. “All the loudest voices in Labor were baiting her to do it, and she didn’t take the bait, and I reckon that says a lot about her.”

South Brisbane is one of the state’s most contested seats, as Trad had just 500 more first preference votes than MacMahon at the 2017 election, and cemented her win with LNP preference deals. The election will be held on 31 October.