Everywhere we look these days, our favourite millennial things are being destroyed by problematic powerful people. No sooner had we all become experts on Barthes' The Death of the Author to work through our attachment to the Harry Potter series, than the former Taoiseach starts quoting Mean Girls.
bviously, a lot of people didn't like that Leo quoted Mean Girls in a speech about the coronavirus, especially when it took up time and energy that could have been spent answering actual questions and concerns about the pandemic.
The line was part of a '50 quid' bet with The Lord Of The Rings actor Sean Astin to quote Mean Girls in his next speech - something that did not comfort those grieving after losing a loved one to Covid-19, or those who watched the reality of the limit-not-existing in care homes across the country.
However, Leo gaslighted the nation by pretending that it was just another one of his "quotes that I identified with, that explains some of the feelings they are having and the darkness around that". A reminder, the quote was: 'the limit does not exist'.
It's hardly "In the end, it's only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass" - the JRR Tolkien quote he used before which started the bet in the first place. Leo reckoned that the backlash to his failure to read the room was actually snobbery. He's wrong.
We can hold a proper appreciation for Mean Girls as a formative cultural marker at the same time as understanding that corona is bad and Government has real work to do. I'm not snobbish about Mean Girls - in fact, I take it very seriously indeed. And that's why I know Leo was wrong.
It was not a Mean Girls line that has necessarily lived on in isolation, like 'on Wednesdays we wear pink' or 'you can't sit with us' - it was a sly quote, a plausibly deniable one which would sort the wheat from the chaff. If you didn't know, you wouldn't have noticed. The quote comes at a pivotal moment in the film, when our heroine wins a maths competition and realises she has lost herself, compromised her intellect and made decisions that hurt people in a quest for popularity. She realises there are more important things than looking good.
This is a realisation that Leo has yet to make, and his erroneous quotation proves it. 'The limit does not exist' has transformed from a moment of spontaneous unselfconsciousness to its exact opposite, a carefully considered PR stunt for a man too often criticised for being wooden.
It's difficult for scholars of Mean Girls to watch Leo try to contain himself as he builds to his magnificent punchline, when we know that if he was a fan he would understand the importance of sexual health services and mental health provisions right now. If he had watched Mean Girls, he would know that it's not about what you say, it's about what you do - and that the best thing you can do when you mess up is admit it and apologise to those you've hurt.
It's possible Leo hasn't found the time to finish the film, and that he doesn't know that being a mean girl is not a good thing. There was criticism about it being 'unstatesmanlike' - which, between the US and the UK, seems like a criticism from a different time.
No, that wasn't the problem. We don't need our statesmen to be statesmanly, we need them to be human. Leo and his lizard friends know this, but they think it means drinking cans in the park topless and using jolly mugs and watching teen flicks - just like the humans do!
But the humanity needed is simpler than that. People need to feel safe and heard: this announcement did not do that. Leo's little joke didn't have the benefit of actually meaning anything: he wasn't promising limitless anything. There is a limit to what we can achieve - the women who can't get a smear test or breast check may find themselves very limited indeed. And we're still in the dark.
So don't use Mean Girls against us, Leo. Not until you've properly internalised its messages of authenticity, the power of changing your mind, and full access to women's health services. You don't even go here.
It's not so much a story as a moment a time; not news, but a fable, a blink-and-you-miss-it lesson in something - I'm not sure what. Our very own Brian McFadden appeared via video-link on Good Morning Britain last week, to talk about his virtual 'Smiling Sessions' in care homes - and host Susanna Reid could not get her head around exactly who or what Brian McFadden is these days: she talked about Westlife releasing new music, a band Brian has not been a member of since 2004.
And doesn't he know it.
While 2004 is like a different life for the four actual members of Westlife, Brian McFadden has been frozen in that year since. By leaving Westlife at the worst possible time, he tied himself to Westlife forever. He was very amiable about Susanna's snafu, and pretended in a touchingly Irish way that he gets mixed up too: 'Not going to lie, a bit confused sometimes as well, and go - hang on, which band am I in again?'
It was kind from the man whose entire identity since 2004 has been constructed around the fact of him categorically not being in Westlife, one of the world's most successful boy bands.
Westlife no longer acknowledges him. "He's part of a band that doesn't exist," says Kian Egan. Brian has been floating in limbo for 16 years, unable to access Westlife, but similarly unable to leave it behind.
And so he labours in this special circle of hell: in a super group (their word) with Keith Duffy of Boyzone. Obviously, they are called Boyzlife and their website boasts that they have "already performed for over 20,000 adoring fans" since 2016. Susanna Reid did not ask Brian McFadden about Boyzlife. An album, comprising nine of Westlife and Boyzone's old No 1 hits, is being released this July.
While Westlife presses on, Brian is doomed to repeat their late 1990s hits forever, and laugh about it on breakfast TV.
There's a lesson here. I just don't know what it is.
It's never been a worse time to be a Rich White Lady, between Queen Rich White Lady (RWL) JK Rowling being challenged on her right to say whatever she wants whenever she wants, Katie Hopkins being kicked off Twitter, and the Black Lives Matter reckoning, RWLs have never been more put-upon.
For weeks now, RWLs have been repeatedly reminded about the specific ways in which they contribute to racism and oppression in a flood of education since the killing of George Floyd. It's difficult for RWL to be told that their womanhood doesn't excuse them from harming other marginalised women.
And now, it has emerged that in Ireland, being a RWL also puts you at greater risk of contracting Covid-19.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office recently revealed that women living in the least-deprived areas of Ireland tested positive at a rate of 685 per 100,000 population, compared to 478 per 100,000 population in the poorest areas.
This has to stem from the RWL's fundamental drive to do whatever she wants.
RWL knows that if everyone else does lockdown properly, she doesn't have to. RWL has done a lot of yoga: nice try, Covid-19. RWL has a trip to the sun booked for July, she deserves it. The right not to face consequences is a deeply entrenched tenet of RWLism, and their fragility is prodigious. The data does not suggest a vulnerability to Covid perhaps, so much as a vulnerability to exceptionalism. And exceptionalism is where pandemics thrive.