Issues Themes Clueless

Issues, Concerns, Themes, Values #

Egalitarian vs Heirarchialism #

Subversive transformation occurs where the source text is undercut by an opposing value. Does Clueless subvert Emma ?

Cher purports the need to preserve America as a tolerant, diverse, inclusive and pluralistic society.


So like, right now for example. The Haitians need to come to America. But some people are all, “What about the strain on our resources?” Well it’s like when I had this garden party for my father’s birthday, right? I put R.S.V.P. ‘cause it was a sit-down dinner. But some people came that like did not R.S.V.P. I was like totally buggin’. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, and squish in extra place settings. But by the end of the day it was, like, the more the merrier. And so if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Haitians. And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty. Thank you very much.

While she espouses an open door to asylum seekers from Haiti, she treats her maid patronisingly and disrespectfully.

Christian, as an outed homosexual, is accepted without judgement or homophobic abuse, and there are indications that Ms Stoeger is a lesbian.

Class and social position is determined by meritocracy, wealth and social connections. All Cher’s match making is geared at maintaining class position.

Elton, astounded with Tai by his match, exclaims:

“Tai and I don’t make sense, you and I make sense” and later:

Don’t you know who my father is?”

In defence the movie depicts society’s inclusiveness and pluralism by including Dionne’s Afro-Americanism, and the prevalence of varied ethnic groups such as the Asian, and Middle Eastern extras.

Teenage Coming of Age #

Cher is also affluent, privileged and untouched by:

  • social and familial conflict - no outright rebellion

  • drugged out confusion - open about it use but rejects them.

  • sexual turmoil – avowed virgin though Tai openly promiscuous.

· Cher despite her glamorous appearance remains a virgin out of choice.

Feminism and Marriage #

Clueless endorses the need for marriage to fulfil the needs of loneliness, stability and cohesion. Cher sees Mr Hall’s lack of sensitivity to the fact he is not married and so begins her match making. The fact that the movie ends with a marriage supports this institution as an aspirational and worthy one.

Cher also appears self sufficient, but in a time of crisis, `the maiden in distress’ calls Josh and is rescued by her hero and eventual suitor. This submission to male dominance is decried by feminists. Marriage is endorsed as a means to fulfilment, union and social stability as Cher takes pride in her achievement of bringing Mr Hall and Miss Geist together with suggestive flattery:

Miss Geist was right about you, she said you were the only one in this school with any intelligence.”

Feminists argue that Emma’s conversion from controller to submissive wife is a satire on a society that allows her no creative space to grow in her own right. Given her intelligence, energy and imagination, her impatient attempts to transform a mundane reality are completely understandable.