Gone. Completely gone. Like a Chevy Chase film after one weekend.
June 8, 2015 7:13 AM   Subscribe

 


1) Because it's super-funny
2) Because pretty much 75% of popular culture has been about people who could be defined as rich or spoiled (like the Jane Austen books that inspired it) and "rich and spoiled person learns valuable lesson about being a 'good person' will be popular forever.
3) Because there was (and remains) few examples in popular movies that have a protagonist that is a young woman and girls who grew up at that time latched on for all the obvious reasons they would. And now they are old enough to write magazine/blog posts about it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:35 AM on June 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


An amazingly well crafted breakthrough Hollywood genre movie that has stood the test of time.

Also this x100:
They said, “we want you to do something about young people. About the cool kids in high school, because all the guys pitch us high school ideas always pitch them about the nerds.”
posted by Bwithh at 7:36 AM on June 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


[Comment removed, please don't jump into a thread to immediately tersely beef about people liking a thing.]
posted by cortex at 7:39 AM on June 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Every time I see Brittany Murphy I get sad all over again. She should have been here for this.
posted by mochapickle at 7:46 AM on June 8, 2015 [36 favorites]


Man, I haven't seen in Clueless in forever, but I remember really enjoying it at the time and ever after when I caught it on cable.
posted by Kitteh at 7:47 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


20th Century Fox decided they wanted it to be more about the boys than the girls, and Amy wouldn’t do that, so they just put it into turnaround, and when they put it into turnaround we left.

FUCK YES. I wish this could happen more often.
posted by theatro at 7:53 AM on June 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Besides all the other reasons this movie is great, I always appreciated the two scenes referencing Iranian-Americans, who are in actuality something like 1/3 of the population of Beverly Hills. Considering how stereotyped our portrayal is (when we appear at all) in media these days, Clueless had it pitch-perfect 20 years ago.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:58 AM on June 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


That was fun.

I really loved this movie, uncharacteristically, because I was a snob and I don't think I consciously got that it was doing something more than just being a light teen movie. But I guess it worked so well that it did something more without my even knowing it was. When I found out years later that it was based on Emma I suddenly got it.

I tried to show this to my 12 year old not long ago and she was super bored and we turned it off ):
posted by latkes at 7:59 AM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


The thing that dates this film about teen culture, language, and fashion the most is when Josh switches the channel from MTV to CNN and gives Cher shit for not caring about what's going on in the world. Remember CNN, the dry but reputable news network of 1995?
posted by almostmanda at 8:02 AM on June 8, 2015 [27 favorites]


Besides all the other reasons this movie is great, I always appreciated the two scenes referencing Iranian-Americans, who are in actuality something like 1/3 of the population of Beverly Hills. Considering how stereotyped our portrayal is (when we appear at all) in media these days, Clueless had it pitch-perfect 20 years ago.

"And that's the Persain Mafia- you can't hang with them unless you own a BMW."
posted by leotrotsky at 8:06 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


If the rapidly receding hairline and flecks of gray hadn't done it already this morning, realizing that it has been 20 years since I saw this movie in a theater was a pretty good reminder that I've hit middle age. I remember this movie being really critically acclaimed when it first came out, the only strongly negative review I recall came from my girlfriend at the time, who I'm 98% sure didn't like because she suspected I had a crush on Alicia Silverstone (she was not wrong).
posted by The Gooch at 8:08 AM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I once watched Clueless four times in one day and it was amazing. It's one of those movies where it always still kind of feels like they're older than I am even though now I'm thirty-one and they are not (see also Grease). When I was younger, I totally bought into Cher's conception of herself and I was probably in my late twenties before I realized that she is actually clueless and her confident statements about How Things Are do not mean that she actually knows what she's talking about.

Also, I got a free shot on Friday when the bartender overheard me calling someone a virgin who can't drive so my time watching the movie has already paid for itself!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:18 AM on June 8, 2015 [27 favorites]


"...and it wasn't Hamlet. It was that Polonius guy."

This movie is the best movie. Also, coming from a big "The Princess Bride" family, I still remember how delighted I was as a teenager to see Vizzini as an adorable high school teacher awkwardly falling in love.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:18 AM on June 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


Awesome movie. It came out when I was 25, and me and my (straight, male, cis) friends loved it, quoted from it, etc. It's one of those movies you can't turn off when you come across it on cable, like Goodfellas.
Yeah, exactly like Goodfellas.
posted by signal at 8:20 AM on June 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


There's a smash cut to the line, "As if!" that was a great joke and a great surprise. One of the best things movies can do.
posted by Trochanter at 8:21 AM on June 8, 2015


so where do you think Paul Rudd keeps that painting that ages and suffers for him?
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 AM on June 8, 2015 [66 favorites]


Oh, something I've always kind of wondered -- you know when Tai is burning her Elton stuff and Cher grabs the tape and goes "Don't burn that"? What's happening there? Is it just that it will produce noxious gas? Is it that Cher is acting like she knows something about what happens to audio tapes when you burn them but really she's making it up? That moment always kind of confused me and it's probably nothing but it felt like there was something happening there I was missing, like, why is it included if it doesn't mean anything? Is it just that Tai is actually completely clueless and Cher at least knows not to burn plastic in a remote-controlled fire?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:22 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Our local movie theatre had some Girls Night Out events in April this year for, like, $5 on a Monday or Wednesday night and Clueless was one of the features one week, Grease another week. (I went to both of those!)

Wow, it was really good. I laughed a lot. And it being 20 years after the fact (I was a teen at the time it came out), it is interesting to watch it from an adult and parent perspective. I used to have the biggest crush on Travis and Josh seemed too old and now I can't relate because they are all just so young!

I remember looking up to Cher and Tai a lot back then, rewatching to get more clues on how to be a proper teenage girl. Now they are young kids!

It was a good time.
posted by jillithd at 8:23 AM on June 8, 2015


What I've always loved about Clueless is how likeable every single person in it generally turns out to be. It's about affable people learning some lessons, but not being in terrible doldrums or hating on one another. Also, the costume design made it such a perfect world unto itself. It was like a movie set on a bubbly, happy other planet much like ours.
posted by xingcat at 8:23 AM on June 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


God, as I'm reading this I'm just getting happier and happier (and also more and more nostalgic, kind of, but in a good way, I think?). Apparently I have a specific voice I use when I'm quoting Clueless so my husband knows exactly what I'm quoting even though he, perplexingly, does not have the movie basically memorized.

So you're probably going, like, is this a Noxzema commercial or what? But seriously, I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:28 AM on June 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Is it just that Tai is actually completely clueless and Cher at least knows not to burn plastic in a remote-controlled fire?

I always think of it as a combo of "Tai is so involved in her melodrama that she is unaware of the real place around her" and "Cher knows that a fake fire is a terrible place to bun plastic, since it might lead to fumes and possibly the destruction of the fake fireplace itself, which would piss her dad off," along with a dollop of "Cher is having a crappy day so she's way less invested in Tai's romantic life than usual."

Also, I tend to read it as a bit of an Austen joke. Austen characters can burn all their romantic treasures in the fire, because they live in a time where all their romantic mementos are flammable and there are fires in every room. Cher and Tai might be the same types of characters as Emma and Harriet, but the setting is hilariously different.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:28 AM on June 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


so where do you think Paul Rudd keeps that painting that ages and suffers for him?

Oh, and you can ask the same thing about Stacey Dash.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:30 AM on June 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Tai and Travis' intensely awkward and adorable flirting is probably the most authentic 90s teenage dialogue I've ever heard in a movie.
posted by griphus at 8:31 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Amy Heckerling has a special place in my heart for directing BOTH Clueless AND Johnny Dangerously.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 8:34 AM on June 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


so where do you think Paul Rudd keeps that painting that ages and suffers for him?

Oh, and you can ask the same thing about Stacey Dash.


Given her recent political positions, I thought it was obvious that her deal involved a contract smelling of brimstone.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:35 AM on June 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


"I totally paused" is a line my wife and I use in the car more often than I could possibly count.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:35 AM on June 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


One of the greatest Jane Austen adaptations, for sure!
posted by chaiminda at 8:40 AM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Remember CNN, the dry but reputable news network of 1995?



I still watch it sporadically.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:42 AM on June 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


Wardrobe put a character in a shirt I printed -- it's one of about 3 celebrity spottings over the years.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:47 AM on June 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think one of the greatest parts of the movie is that they made Cher so kind. Kinder than Emma, who is often more calculating. Cher might be manipulative (I want to get a better grade), but her machinations always involve making people happier (my teachers are blissfully in love and getting married). Like House of Cards starring Leslie Knope, maybe— I’m going to get my way, but I’m going to get my way by making everyone I know so genuinely happy that they’ll help me do it.

If Tai hadn’t intervened with her crush on Josh, Cher would probably have spent the rest of the failed-driving-test day planning out her schemes to make the DMV guy’s dreams come true so that he would have passed her next time.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:51 AM on June 8, 2015 [18 favorites]


If you had asked me twenty years ago to predict which of the female leads in Clueless would have (1) become a spokesperson for animal rights and veganism, (2) become a right-wing political pundit, or (3) died tragically before her time, I would have probably guessed wrong on all three counts.
posted by jonp72 at 8:54 AM on June 8, 2015 [20 favorites]


A classic. I have a friend who has never seen it, but only reminds me of this at inopportune moments when we're nowhere near a TV, and I always offer to perform a live reenactment for her.

Dananananananananananananananana... lookin' out a dirty old window...

Honestly I've tried and it's possible I'm 90% off book already.
posted by telegraph at 8:54 AM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Like House of Cards starring Leslie Knope, maybe

That would be a great premise for a comedy series!
posted by jonp72 at 8:55 AM on June 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've always endeavor to live my life as if it was the intitnal clothing computer montage in this movie.
posted by The Whelk at 8:56 AM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Rolling with the homies. *hand action*

The secret handshake of good people everywhere, that.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 9:01 AM on June 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


"I totally paused" is a line my wife and I use in the car more often than I could possibly count.

Other lines from Clueless that I have used in my day-to-day life regularly:
  • "Let's do a lap before we commit to a location." (I actually still say this in my head every time I enter a bar by myself.)
  • "And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty."
  • "Way harsh, Tai"
  • Anytime Billie Holiday is mentioned: "I love him"
  • "My birthday is in [December] and as someone older, can I please give you some advice?"
But the real one that stuck was when Tai gets hit with the shoe and Cher says to ask her questions.

When my partner was in the hospital a lot and either (a) often coming out of anesthesia or (b) suffering from hepatic encephalopathy so often very confused, nurses would ask him the date or other questions, and if you've been in the hospital for weeks, you often don't know what day it is anyway, so I was never sure if he was really confused or just didn't know the day, so it was our thing that once those questions were asked, I would butt in with "what's seven times seven" and if he said "stuff I know!", he was doing okay.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:08 AM on June 8, 2015 [38 favorites]


I dressed exactly like Tai post makeover, with the curly hair and short plaid skirts and chunky shoes. Indian American Tai. I was sort of shy like her although not as snarky and my college boyfriend looked a lot like Travis Birkenstock. I miss Brittany Murphy.

Every time I realize I like a new love interest I get like Cher around Josh after the big shopping/mall fountain revelation that she's "butt crazy in love with Josh" and sits around all awkwardly with him trying to get interested in Rwanda.

The "Messiah of the DMV" driving instructor who fails Cher kind of reminded us of my friend's dad.

Cool that they had an Asian friend, I remember that getting my attention at the time.

Ugh, so much love for this movie. Though interestingly, Justin Walker seems kind of depressed about the whole experience.
posted by sweetkid at 9:30 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


One interesting (if totally irrelevant) thing I noticed in this piece: a little bit of linguistics for the English dialect called "Hollywood."
DONALD FASION: I think she [Stacey] could tell that I had a huge crush on her, so maybe she was a bit standoffish because of it.

STACEY DASH: I didn’t know he liked me! That’s so funny. I didn’t know that but I loved him. It was great, because we had the best chemistry, it was there, it wasn’t acting.
Did you see that? "Loved" is a generic positive feeling word, tossed around a hundred times in every article that talks to people promoting a film. But "he liked her" -- now that's some serious business.

(Now that I think of it, managing crushes must be a really important skill for young actors thrown together during a few weeks of intensive collaboration. How do you learn to be head-over-heels into someone without trying to turn it into something more?)
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 9:45 AM on June 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


This movie was so influential in my life that I grew out my bangs so I could do this just like Alicia Silverstone. That was a multi-year commitment.
posted by joan cusack the second at 9:51 AM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ahhh Clueless. It totally holds up.
posted by aka burlap at 9:55 AM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


this takes me back to when my family was still renting videos. i'm pretty sure my brother and I watched this at least once a day. We'd even do the obnoxious kid thing of playing it for guests and reciting every line of the movie as it's playing.

That, and 3 Ninjas.
posted by cendawanita at 10:10 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Every time I think I've reached a point where I don't "need" to see this movie again, I seem to run across it on TV and get caught all over again. It remains so, so good.
posted by rtha at 10:23 AM on June 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


interestingly, Justin Walker seems kind of depressed about the whole experience.

Sounds like he thinks he was typecast, and that it worked against him for film/TV in LA, and that he lost opportunities for growth in live theatre.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:25 AM on June 8, 2015


Fast Times at Ridgemont High post-Reagan Revolution. The stoner sees that maybe drugs aren't so great, everyone is wealthy and there's no sex, nudity or serious issues like abortion.

Cute movie, but a depressing commentary on how teens are portrayed by Hollywood now vs. then.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:50 AM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love this movie so very, very much. I wrote papers on the fashion of it in college twice. I was quoting it around 20-year-olds the other day and got blank stares, which made me sad.

You know what I think would be a great triple feature? Watching Clueless, Saved, and Easy A in one go.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:27 AM on June 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


Fast Times at Ridgemont High post-Reagan Revolution. The stoner sees that maybe drugs aren't so great, everyone is wealthy and there's no sex, nudity or serious issues like abortion.

Cute movie, but a depressing commentary on how teens are portrayed by Hollywood now vs. then.


On the other hand I can watch Clueless with my tweenaged kids, while most movies from the 80s, I can't. Certainly not without a large portion of my now-parental brain wondering what the earthly hell my mom was thinking letting me watch that stuff at my kids' age. Although the debriefing conversations afterward* are always pretty fruitful and rewarding, and I guess I'd rather be having them about things that happened in movies long before they have happened in real life.

*such conversations never happened for me. Lucky for Mom I was a super-nerd, and spent most of my high school years wondering why sex and drugs weren't just falling into my lap constantly like in the movies, rather than actually participating in such things.
posted by padraigin at 11:39 AM on June 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


The stoner sees that maybe drugs aren't so great, everyone is wealthy and there's no sex, nudity or serious issues like abortion.

I see your point, but I don't think I agree; there is sex, and I think it's presented a lot more realistically related to the experiences of some my high school friends. Dionne and Murray date for a long time and eventually have sex. Tai has had a fair amount of sex. Cher doesn't want to have sex and then does want to have sex and kind of makes a fool of herself. I think this is what high school is like for a lot of people; not everyone is off doing it all the time and making the decision to have sex for the first time feels like a really big deal.

Similarly, when Cher is talking to Tai and says "It is one think to spark up a doobie and get laced at parties, but it is quite another to be fried all day" -- that's not an intensely anti-drug message and, again, I think it is like the experience of a lot of people at my high school. Lots of people drank or did drugs on the weekends but that's super different from being drunk or high at school.

Finally, in terms of "serious issues like abortion", well, for a lot of fifteen and sixteen-year-olds, the things in this movie (friends, grades, dating, sex, reputation, who has their driver's license) ARE serious issues. Oh man, when I was in high school, who could drive and who had a car and who was allowed to drive with whom and how far away they could go (and could they take the freeway) were all really important and serious issues! A movie doesn't have to have sex and nudity and abortion to be good, and a movie that represents and validates the concerns of a lot of teenage girls is something of value.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:52 AM on June 8, 2015 [36 favorites]


I don't know man. If you watch this movie and your response is that it needs more nudity and sex, I kind of feel like you wanted an entirely different film targeted at an entirely different audience.
posted by almostmanda at 11:53 AM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


The other thing about sex in Clueless pretty much everybody but Cher is having sex, and even then it's not for some puritanical reason* but because of the choice she's making ("You see how picky I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet." - which is another line I've used.)

They just don't show it.

(* I mean, there's a bit of slut-shaming but since it involves one of my favorite jokes and is about horrible Amber, I've always let it slide.

Amber: Ms. Stoeger, my plastic surgeon doesn't want me doing any activity where balls fly at my nose.
Dionne: Well, there goes your social life.
)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:53 AM on June 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I apparently should just step away from the thread because Mrs. Pterodactyl has me covered.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:54 AM on June 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I didn't say it was a terrible movie, just that it's a sugar-coated glossy fantasy world of wealthy kids with trivial problems. Which isn't necessarily a BAD thing, but considering how many thousands of films and TV shows portray teen life like that since the 80s, I think it's a telling part of a troubling trend that started with Ron, Nancy and Just Say No.

And Fast Times was remembered for it's snappy dialog, one liners, fashion, pop culture, etc. as well, but managed to add in issues that affect real kids. Just a more 3-dimensional movie.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:59 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


This was a female-oriented film? Huh. I can honestly say I never thought of it like that. It's just a damned good 90s movie.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:10 PM on June 8, 2015


Yes but it's also a retelling of Emma. I mean, there are movies to be made about realistic depictions of high school, and then there is lighter fare set in Beverly Hills, and I think you're reaching to draw inferences here by comparing two movies that have superficial similarities but whose differences have much more to do with things other than changing sensibilities about Teen Issues from the 80s to the 90s.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:24 PM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


just that it's a sugar-coated glossy fantasy world of wealthy kids with trivial problems

The fact that it's an adaptation of Austen's Emma (one of the greatest of all Austen film adaptations, at that) pretty much rules out the possibility of the gritty, wrong-side-of-the-tracks story you seem to wish it had been.

But "trivial problems"? I never understand this complaint about stories that are set in well-off milieus. Yeah, sure, they're not "life and death" problems. On the scale of absolute human needs, then--certainly--films about people who are challenged with finding food or shelter or physical safety and so forth are certainly films about more pressing and urgent problems. But there's a vast array of intensely complex human issues that remain on the table even when those most pressing needs are satisfied. The ethics of love, family and friendship are not "trivial problems." They are, indeed, for many people among the richest and most complex problems we face. There's a reason that so much of the world's literature comes back to these issues and a reason we are immersed in stories exploring those issues. It's not because they are "trivial." Jane Austen is one of the most subtle and powerful thinkers to have explored these issues, and we keep coming back to her stories because they help us think about aspects of our lives that are absolutely crucial to our self-understanding.
posted by yoink at 12:25 PM on June 8, 2015 [19 favorites]


It was a always a classic. I turned 30 in -93, and still went in to see it because the old man critics said I had to. Which is great. Also, I just told my 16yo daughter I was reading about it, and she told me she had already seen it more than three times.

I think one of the greatest parts of the movie is that they made Cher so kind. Kinder than Emma, who is often more calculating. Cher might be manipulative (I want to get a better grade), but her machinations always involve making people happier (my teachers are blissfully in love and getting married).

In my opinion, this is one of the genius strokes of the movie. And it is certainly the no. 1 value I took with me after seeing it: that it can be cool to be good. Yes, you may be severely mistaken in your attempts to do right, and you should be aware of that. But cool does not have to be punky-grungy irony and hate all the time. (and because it is a complex, and thus good story, you do get to be punky-grungy-ironic some of the time)
posted by mumimor at 12:29 PM on June 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's part of a much larger trend. Poor and working class people are no longer allowed on TV and movies.

It's a cute movie. I don't hate it. But it's part of (and the vanguard of) a troubling trend. I can't even imagine a teen film comedy post-Fast Times that would even breach the subject of abortion, for instance.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:30 PM on June 8, 2015


Sex, nudity, and drug use don't always make a film more realistic or 3-dimensional. Consider Porky's, or Animal House.

And, iconic or not, the Phoebe Cates pool fantasy scene may as well be a flashing, all-caps message that that movie was not made for me.
posted by almostmanda at 12:37 PM on June 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


managed to add in issues that affect real kids

As a high school virgin who could not drive and often felt conflicted about how my friends and I related to each other, sorry, but no. Things don't have to be gritty to be real. Movies that fail to include abortion subplots are not therefore insidious white picket fence propaganda.

Also, Tai WAS poor and working class, in the context of the movie. Her adoption by Cher and Dionne was not just about levels of popularity, but also about her class-status. There is a reason that many of her new outfits come from Cher's closet. (Plus, half the movie is pointing out that Cher's class-blindness is hurting her and the people around her. Her ability to recognize her own privilege and forgo it when possible is, uh, the plot.)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:38 PM on June 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


The Phoebe Cates scene is the fantasy of a dorky teen guy. A character going topless (briefly, and no more) as part of a fantasy scene isn't beyond the pale in my opinion. Cates' character it turns out in the end wasn't really sexually active, she just talked a good game. The nerdy little guy who worked in the theater wasn't sexually active at all. Jeff Spicoli was a comic side story, which even included a warm bonding of sorts with his teacher. The ticket scalper guy also turned out to be just a big talker.

Fast Times wasn't really all THAT gritty. But working in a mall with crappy managers likely resonates with kids actual lives today (and then) far more than a bunch of supermodel kids with high fashion clothes, sports cars, mansions and unlimited bank accounts.

"...recognize her own privilege and forgo it when possible is, uh, the plot."

Yeah, but the whole thing is a fashion magazine/fantasy scene turned to 11, and even if someone "learns a lesson®", it continues to be a fashion fantasy even after the credits roll. Kind of hollow.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:46 PM on June 8, 2015


So when I was in college we read some old (17th century, maybe?) Japanese poetry that was very similar to Austen (or Clueless) in terms of its themes and plots and characters. Flirting under cherry blossoms, oh he loves me not! He loves another! I remember being unimpressed and complaining to my professor that the plots were so... gossipy, and trivial.

I said I wanted to read some poetry about the blacksmiths and fisherman and wet nurses of 17th century Japan, and why the heck was everything assigned in this class about rich people anyway? I was quite self righteous about it. The professor said, "Well, most literature is about rich people. The problem is, poor people are boring." In retrospect I realize he was trolling me, but at the time I rose to the bait.

I've been thinking about that recently as I read "Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin," by Jill Lapore. Jane Franklin was Ben Franklin's sister, and she was clever and engaged with the ideas he wrote about, but she was poor. And what I'm realizing as I read this painstakingly reconstructed history of her life is that stories about poor people are not so much boring as sad.

When Clueless came out originally, I was in high school, and I also thought it was trivial and gossipy. I was not really interested in seeing it at all. I also made a point out of how much I hated the Jane Austen we had to read. (Yes, I was a joy to teach.)

And but so anyway, I love Jane Austen now, and I did eventually see Clueless and liked that too. Also "Friends," which I was much too good for in the '90s. There's a place for fun and fantasy and light-hearted comedy which astutely observes our common foibles.

"Book of Ages" is a very good book, which I highly recommend, about the erased experiences of people living without privilege in 18th century America (well, without much, she's still Ben Franklin's sister)... But it is a downer, and I think might read some Jane Austen when I'm done with it, to cheer myself up.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:48 PM on June 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Dude, I have seen Fast Times, you don't need to explain the plot to me. It's still a completely alienating, literally male-gazey scene that takes me out of the movie. That Clueless doesn't have stuff like that is IMO a strength, not a weakness.
posted by almostmanda at 1:03 PM on June 8, 2015 [19 favorites]


The Phoebe Cates scene is the fantasy of a dorky teen guy. A character going topless (briefly, and no more) as part of a fantasy scene isn't beyond the pale in my opinion.

I'm glad that this movie resonated more with you. But you might want to consider the fact that what you consider not to be "beyond the pale" and what teen girls (who are intensely aware of the fact that many of their male classmates view them as little more than masturbatory fantasy characters) consider to be "beyond the pale" might not be the same thing.

A lot of the linked article is about how the director had to fight to make a movie about a teen girl's life, even when the teen girl in question was beautiful, rich, glamorous, etc. The studios wanted more of the movies that revolved almost-exclusively around the fantasies of dorky teen guys. Clueless almost did not get made because its creator refused to make it into that, despite her earlier work in the genre.

Also, it was one of the first movies I ever saw to contain a scene of attempted date rape by a close friend. Talk about realistic.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 1:04 PM on June 8, 2015 [28 favorites]


Clueless is on cable so much that it actually doesn't make me feel old to admit to liking it. You can still call someone a virgin who can’t drive and not get totally blank looks. There aren't many female-centered movies that achieve that status, and if enjoying a movie about pretty people in fun clothes going through the quite universal process of discovering themselves and love makes me shallow, then I'm okay with that.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:12 PM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Who's up for a Clueless, Romy and Michelle, and Drop Dead Gorgeous marathon?
posted by asockpuppet at 1:15 PM on June 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Also, it was one of the first movies I ever saw to contain a scene of attempted date rape by a close friend. Talk about realistic.

This is such an excellent point that I had not even considered; that scene is really scary! She's driving home with a friend, which is a totally reasonable choice to make, and then he pulls over into a parking lot and won't stop touching her. It's so creepy! Of course she doesn't get back in the car, the man is touching her without her consent, and then he drives off and leaves her somewhere unfamiliar and dangerous. That is absolutely terrifying, all the more so because what could she have done to prevent it?* Not let a friend (who has never expressed any previous interest) drive her home? She's put in this horrible situation where she has to choose between rape and, as happens, getting mugged. You can't tell me that's not a serious issue.

*Obviously Elton's behavior wouldn't have been her fault under any circumstances, even had it been preventable.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:17 PM on June 8, 2015 [21 favorites]


I like that this is a Clueless thread.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:25 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


[jeff-o-matic, you're being a pill, drop it.]
posted by cortex at 1:25 PM on June 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


The stoner sees that maybe drugs aren't so great, everyone is wealthy and there's no sex, nudity or serious issues like abortion.


Rebuttal:
1) The cool girls' position on marijuana in Clueless is that smoking it at parties is fine but smoking it all the time so that you are high all the time is not.

2) Yes, everyone is apparently wealthy, but the movie does satirize Cher's earnest but very limited grasp of what the poor people's lives might be like (e.g. the Haitians speech)

3) One of the main plot points is about sex (Cher's virginity). As for nudity, that's not the market they were going for. The movie is rated PG-13

4) One of the most famous scenes is where Josh mocks Cher for misunderstanding CNN coverage of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia (she thinks is the report is on war in the Middle East). Josh, who seriously and intelligently cares about major problems in the wider world, is presented as a role model to look up to. Cher ends up [SPOILER] dating Josh. Sidenote: the CNN scene recalls how the original Emma was written by Jane Austen during the Napoleonic Wars (published in the same year as the Battle of Waterloo), and how the world in her novels generally ignore the major European war Britain was part of in that period.
posted by Bwithh at 1:25 PM on June 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


I adore this movie and thought this was a fun read.

I found it interesting, though, that in the '95 interviews Alicia is called a "little girl" both by Amy and herself. But she was what... 18 or 19 at the time? It's hard to imagine young starlets like Kristen Stewart or Jennifer Lawrence being called "little girl" when Twilight or Hunger Games came out.
posted by lakemarie at 1:32 PM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sidenote: the CNN scene recalls how the original Emma was written by Jane Austen during the Napoleonic Wars (published in the same year as the Battle of Waterloo), and how the world in her novels generally ignore the major European war Britain was part of in that period.

Holy shit Barton Fink does a very similar thing in re: the Holocaust and now I really want to watch those movies front-to-back and pick out the similarities.
posted by griphus at 1:32 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, another realistic and scary scene that has stuck with me: when Tai is flirting with a group of guys, and then they hold her off the second floor balcony railing at the mall. Sure, Tai uses her "near death experience" to her advantage socially, but I always read that moment as truly dangerous.
posted by lakemarie at 1:43 PM on June 8, 2015 [8 favorites]



I found it interesting, though, that in the '95 interviews Alicia is called a "little girl" both by Amy and herself. But she was what... 18 or 19 at the time?


Yeah, that was weird.
posted by sweetkid at 1:51 PM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


The most hilarious thing about the claim that Fast Times is good because it is realistic and gritty, and Clueless is bad because it is about rich kids is that they were directed by the same person. Amy Heckerling. I guess it is really too bad that the director of Clueless didn't know how to make a realistic movie about teenagers.
posted by bove at 2:05 PM on June 8, 2015 [16 favorites]


Like House of Cards starring Leslie Knope, maybe

Isn't that basically what Veep is? Granted, without Leslie's inner core of optimism and unfailing can-do competence..
posted by FatherDagon at 3:44 PM on June 8, 2015


I like a good tersely beef, dipped, with peppers, and giardiniera from that place on Pulaski. Maybe a sack of fries.
That's something those insouciant sophrosynes from Beverly Hills don't understand about us regular guys.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:18 PM on June 8, 2015


I was going to comment on the multiple uses of "orientated" then I saw "bona fidel."
posted by bendy at 5:16 PM on June 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


So this movie is for those who are 30ish what John Hughes was for us Gen Xers. Good to know!
posted by persona au gratin at 6:09 PM on June 8, 2015


her novels generally ignore the major European war

Where do you suppose all those soldiers and naval officers inher novels are off to?
posted by yoink at 7:21 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I do not wear polyester hair!" is still something my friends and I will quote to each other when we're discussing hair/mocking bad wigs, etc.

I love this movie.
posted by TwoStride at 7:42 PM on June 8, 2015


My favorite moment in this movie is Cher's offscreen whimpering when begging Josh to open the front door for Christian.
posted by um at 9:26 PM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love love love Fast Times. I thought Clueless was...okay? And I kind of feel bad for not liking it more. I feel the same way about Dazed and Confused.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:54 PM on June 8, 2015


I've seen Clueless like ten times (it's on Netflix streaming!) and up until reading this article I thought Christian was played by Jason Prisetley
posted by The Whelk at 11:12 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


That would have made D's comment about Cher saving herself for Luke Perry a wicked burn, The Whelk.
posted by pseudonymph at 12:48 AM on June 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


I honestly thought that was a winking joke until literally right now.
posted by The Whelk at 1:31 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also I realized whenever I mentally imagine fun time with friends it's basically a version of the "we are young we are free!" alright Montage from this movie
posted by The Whelk at 1:34 AM on June 9, 2015 [4 favorites]




The fact that I imagine teen freedom as a fashion photo shoot is left as an exercise for the readers
posted by The Whelk at 1:37 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


her novels generally ignore the major European war

Where do you suppose all those soldiers and naval officers inher novels are off to?
posted by yoink at 7:21 PM on June 8 [1 favorite +] [!]


that's a good angle for fan fiction but Austen's novels never directly mention the Napoleonic Wars and rarely hint at them even though she had 2 brothers serving in the British Navy and she was an adult actively writing as a novelist throughout the wars (1803-15)
posted by Bwithh at 4:43 AM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought Christian was played by Jason Prisetley

That would make that bit in the mall when they're talking about his jacket even weirder! Carpe diem, alright? You looked hot in it.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:25 AM on June 9, 2015 [4 favorites]




So the A.V. Club thinks people who were 17 in 1995 are millennials?
posted by operalass at 7:50 AM on June 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


that's a good angle for fan fiction but Austen's novels never directly mention the Napoleonic Wars and rarely hint at them even though she had 2 brothers serving in the British Navy and she was an adult actively writing as a novelist throughout the wars (1803-15)

This is wrong on a number of levels. At the simplest, it fails spectacularly to take account of Persuasion, where the phenomenon of all those naval officers returning to civilian life after the decisive victory over Napoleon is not only the motor for the plot but referred to repeatedly and explicitly throughout the novel. If you doubt me, just search up an etext of Persuasion and CTRL-F for "peace."

But it's also wrong about the other novels. It's like noticing that she never explicitly says that her characters breathe air and saying that this means she is deliberately ignoring the fact that humans need to breathe in order to live. The was was an omnipresent fact in the lives of Austen and of her readers. It didn't need to be especially referenced. Indeed, this is one of the hallmarks of cheesy historical fiction that always bugs me: people are forever talking about things that are common knowledge in very precise and explicit terms so as to provide exposition to the reader: "hello, Stan, your cows are looking good this year...which is, of course, 1794 and Terror is the order of the day in Paris, the King was executed last year--King Louis the 16th, that is--and England has declared war on Revolutionary France. Think you'll have a good crop of turnips?"

If you published a novel in 2007 and one of the character's brothers was in the army, you wouldn't need to mention where they were serving or what battles they'd taken part in to evoke the fact of military risk and the ongoing war in the readers' minds. Austen doesn't need to go off and copy a whole lot of stuff from the newspaper reports of the day to be writing novels that are aware of the backdrop of war in the characters' lives.

If you want to read a smart take on this by a contemporary scholar (Mary Favret), here's a reasonably good place to start: http://www.rc.umd.edu/pedagogies/commons/novel/favret.html#rn18
posted by yoink at 10:14 AM on June 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


So the A.V. Club thinks people who were 17 in 1995 are millennials?

I think there's a blur between the Gen X/Millennial gap. I was 18 when Clueless came out but I have way more in common with Millennials born in 1985 than I do with Gen X'ers born in 1965.
posted by mochapickle at 10:27 AM on June 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


people in that odd little culvert of born in 82-85ish straddle those two pat generational boxes
posted by The Whelk at 10:44 AM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think 81 should maybe be included in there as well. I identify with both and neither at the same time.
posted by angelchrys at 10:54 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Generation Catalano, guys.
posted by sweetkid at 3:39 PM on June 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


I thought we were the Oregon Trail generation.
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:38 PM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought Christian was played by Jason Prisetley

This passing mention is enough excuse for me to comment how much I loved Coldblooded, from the same time period as Clueless. There is no other relationship between them except I love them.
posted by phearlez at 9:50 AM on June 10, 2015


I re-watched this with a critical adult eye last night and let me say there is nothing more powerfully mid 90s then everyone in bright pastels and denim overalls dancing along to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones who are wearing plaid blazers and making ANGRY SKA FACES.
posted by The Whelk at 11:40 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I re-watched this with a critical adult eye last night

I re-watched last night too! But instead of a critical adult eye, I was like "Twink Caplan, go you for acting in this movie while producing it!!" and "Paul Rudd, even your hacky-sacking makes me feel feelings" and "man, you can't blame 16-year-old Cher for being confused about Christian's sexual orientation when the first thing he does is gaze at her legs and then tell her she has 'nice stems'".
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:58 AM on June 10, 2015


Also, random Julie Brown cameo as the gym teacher!

Also about half way through one of Elton's scenes me screaming OH WAIT ITS BILLY CHENOWITH
posted by The Whelk at 12:17 PM on June 10, 2015


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