July 19 marks 25 years since Amy Heckerling’s 1995 Clueless became a timeless classic. (Image source: Vanity Fair)
By Rebecca Gaitaneris | @bec_gaitaneris
Can you believe it has been 25 years since the world was graced with the cult classic that is Clueless?
Released in 1995, Clueless is loosely based on Jane Austen’s 1816 novel Emma.
Clueless has been well received and was regarded as “smart” by famous movie critic, Roger Ebert.
“Clueless is a smart and funny movie, and the characters are in on the joke,” Mr Ebert said.
From fashion to music to lingo, there is no denying that Clueless has influenced us, and pop culture, for the past 25 years. But more important than that, Clueless is perhaps a feminist masterpiece … well at least that is my opinion.
Clueless was, and still is seen as a teen chick flick with a strong influence on fashion trends and lingo, but what is it that made Clueless so special?
Clueless fan and 90s fashion enthusiast Emma, 21, may have some reasons.
“Clueless is not only one of the most quotable films, but more importantly, the characters demonstrate important and empowering qualities,” she said.
“The character portrayal of Cher is a strong, opinionated and popular young woman, yet she also demonstrates a generous and inclusive side when she takes Tai (Brittany Murphy) under her wing.
“I think Cher in particular takes responsibility for her actions, cares for her loved ones, and constantly goes after what she wants.”
Sure, at first glance Clueless just seems like another fluffy teen ‘chick flick’ that would easily be forgotten.
However, Clueless is far more than an eternally quotable quintessential teen flick centred on a spoilt and self-absorbed teenager – it is a strong and empowering look at women and their friendships with one another.
I can clearly recall many of my favourite quotes and scenes from this classic chick flick 25 years on – partly because the film celebrates hyper-feminism and girl culture.
And now, 25 years later, it is only fair to comment on the leading female roles and how they influenced the celebration of femininity and friendship.
With Clueless, I like to think there is more than meets the eye.
Unlike many other typical teen movies or chick flicks which revolve around social awkwardness, rebellion, love and confrontation, (Dazed and Confused 1993, American Pie 1999, Cruel Intentions, 1999, 10 Things I Hate About You 1999, Mean Girls 2004) Clueless is all about the ladies.
Female friendship and women coming of age are central to Clueless.
Cher (Alicia Silverstone)
On the surface, female protagonist Cher may appear like a typical, ditzy, superficial Beverly Hills brat living in her own reality. But, Cher quickly demonstrates a good character and strong female lead, who proves to be a loyal, helpful and thoughtful person to those around her.
Despite Cher’s love for fashion, makeup and shopping, her interests do not necessarily portray her as a typical shallow or superficial female character usually seen in other teen chick flicks. Rather, she demonstrates a strong and determined young woman who knows exactly what she wants and is not afraid to take control of her own appearance and identity.
In his review of the 1995 film, Mr Ebert discusses the character portrayal of Cher and suggests that she is more than just a blonde, Beverly Hills teenager.
“She is one of the most totally self-absorbed characters in the film, and yet she isn’t a victim, and we get the idea she will grow up tough and clever, like her dad,” Mr Ebert said.
“She displays the knack of suggesting that her character is not limited by her airhead dialogue and teen queen behaviour. She may talk that way, and do those things, but with a sly humour that suggests she’s putting herself on.
“Her motives are essentially pure … She wants to help out poor Tai because she doesn’t have a clue.”
Dionne (Stacey Dash)
One thing I love about Clueless’s storyline is the fact that Cher and Dionne are a fresh spin on the “typical” concept of American high school cliques – popular girls who are actually kind, supportive and inclusive.
Instead of snubbing Tai, Dionne helps Cher take the “new girl” under their wings to guide her through the dos and don’ts of high school even though they may have risked their own social status.
Throughout Clueless, both Cher and Dionne teach the audience what best friends should be. Dionne’s loyalty and honesty (though, often brutal) proved to be a testament to their friendship.
Clueless’ female leads Cher and Dionne are confident women who are empowered by their personal choices and their friendship with one another to be the best versions of themselves.
If you haven’t seen Clueless, firstly, as if! And secondly, I suggest that you celebrate its 25-year anniversary by watching it.