Persephone Movie Club: “Clueless”

Welcome to the first full meeting of the Persephone Movie Club! This weekend, we’ll be discussing the ’90s classic Clueless.

Theatrical release poster for CluelessA few possible jumping off points:

  • In what ways, if any, does Cher eventually come to recognize her privilege and change her ways? Does it count if she’s only doing it to impress a boy, and do you think she’ll go back to being completely clueless in the future?
  • Discuss the film’s diversity and stereotypes. Are the POC and LGBTQ characters fully fledged characters or stereotyped tokens? How does the diversity of the cast compare to other contemporary teen flicks?
  • Writer/director Amy Heckerling based Clueless on Jane Austen’s Emma. Is it faithful to the original story, or do the modernizations lessen the impact?
  • How are female friendships portrayed? Tai starts out as just a project for Cher and Dionne; do you think they consider her a true friend by the end?
  • The behavior of male characters in the film. Does Cher have a point about the high school boys she knows being too immature, given that Elton is a classic example of Nice Guyâ„¢, Murray puts on a front of being disrespectful to Dionne, and Travis is an (adorable, shut up) mess?
  • Isn’t it awesome that all of the ladies are in charge of their own sexuality?!
  • Is it creepy to date a former step-brother? When he’s as cute as Paul Rudd, does it matter?
  • The clothing; so much plaid! The music!

And of course, the best part of a movie club is getting to add to our gif collections! I’ll share a few of my own in the comments; hopefully y’all have some others. I’d kill for pretty much any of the WTF faces from Mr. Hall and Miss Geist.


Our next meeting will be the weekend of July 6, when we’ll be discussing Heathers. It’s currently available on Netflix Instant (unlike most of the other movies we voted for, grrr) but isn’t free with Amazon Prime.

By [E] Hillary

Hillary is a giant nerd and former Mathlete. She once read large swaths of "Why Evolution is True" and a geology book aloud to her infant daughter, in the hopes of a) instilling a love of science in her from a very young age and b) boring her to sleep. After escaping the wilds of Waco, Texas and spending the next decade in NYC, she currently lives in upstate New York, where she misses being able to get decent pizza and Chinese takeout delivered to her house. She lost on Jeopardy.

13 replies on “Persephone Movie Club: “Clueless””

The music in this I. love. it. I listen to the soundtrack regularly I’m not sure if I love the songs themselves or love ’em because it brings me back to those carefree days of yore watching clueless at slumber parties every weekend. I love that Cher didn’t need a big huge moral/religious reason why she was still a virgin she was just waiting for when it was right for her, and I related to that sentiment myself in High school so it was good to see it coming from someone like Cher ya know?

I’m a HUGE Jane Austen fan, but I have to say Emma is my least favorite, to the point that I actually hated it! I think Clueless is sooooo much better than the book.  I love the movie, and having watched it throughout middle school, high school, and now many times in adult hood, I have to say I was able to relate to the movie at all of those stages in life far better than I could ever relate to the book.

Yes it could be creepy to date a former step brother, but it seemed that they were only step siblings for a very short while and that makes it a little less icky.  I could never date my former step brother, but that’s because I grew up with him (became step siblings at 10 yrs old) and our parents were together for 12 years so he’s always been a brother to me even still after our parents separated.  As for my current step brothers, I’ve met one of them once (at the wedding, and as an adult) and I haven’t met the other so I don’t think that would be as icky.

I absolutely loved Stacey Dash in this movie. I thought she was so cool and so beautiful and amazing. I loved that they showed her relationship with her boyfriend as being ultimately so loving and caring too. I’ve never really watched this movie with a critical eye for how they portray race as an adult, but that’s what stands out to me watching this as a little biracial girl in the 90s, how amazing Stacey Dash was. And that’s pretty cool to me.

Stacey Dash was awesome in this. And I loved that Dionne was Cher’s best friend, not her Black Friend. A lot of movies don’t show mixed-race friendships, or people only become friends after overcoming initial rivalries or misunderstandings. Here they were just friends; race was irrelevant.

I love the fact that Alicia Silverstone totally gaffed the “Haiti-ans” line all on her own, and they kept it in, cuz you can’t make that stuff up.

I love this movie, and truly have no idea how many times I’ve seen it.  And that Emma movie with Gwyneth? I don’t even know if I made it through the whole thing.  I thought it was terrible.  Obviously, I’m biased because I deplore The Paltrow, and because I love Clueless, but I really think the modernization took the best of Emma and made it so much more relate-able (relatable? hmm.).  I hated Emma for her busybody-ness, and yet Cher’s do-gooding/meddling/self-improvement seemed more honest.  I believed Silverstone as a teenage girl trying to take care of/please her father, and make her way in her world.

The greatest irony, of course, is that I watch this movie sporadically.

A few of my own random thoughts to get us started…

I love that even though Cher was the pretty popular girl who negotiated her grades rather than actually earning them, they made a point of having her get a 98 on her geometry homework (and she was proud of it rather than hiding being good at math).

The garden party analogy for immigration is hilarious. “It does not say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty!” Damn straight.

And gifs!

A random thought to add. Or rather, a thought prompted by the wonderful gifs, is that the film discusses sex and virginity, without no-sex-before-marriage undertones. Cher doesn’t have sex and that’s okay, and as a little ‘un when I first saw this, I’m realising how important that message was.

I love that too. Her dad pulls the overprotective act on Christian, but not specifically relating to sex, and the girls show both sides. Tai isn’t shamed for having had sex; Dionne starts out “technically” a virgin but everyone understands what that means and it isn’t a problem, nor is she shamed when she finally does have sex. Tai is a bit incredulous that Cher is a virgin and throws it back in her face when she’s mad at her, but she’s still one of the most popular girls in school without putting out. She isn’t waiting for marriage, just for the right guy. The “You can guess what happened next” line with the fakeout fade to the wedding could imply that Cher and Josh had sex, or could be taken at face value that her machinations got the teachers to get married.

When I went to film school, in my first screenwriting class we were asked to name our 5 favorite movies. Everyone’s answers were so hoity-toity, all these small indie films that I had barely heard of. Clueless was in my top 5. It wasn’t until I explained how incredibly nuanced the direction was, how detailed the scenes were, did my classmates come around.

The scene where Cher explains her report card to her dad is one of my favorite scenes ever. She goes to the window, picks an orange off of the tree, juices it, and hands the glass to her father, all while he asks how she managed to negotiate her grades. It is adorable and amazing and so well-directed. “You mean to tell me that you argued your way from a C+ to an A-?” Totally based on my powers of persuasion, you proud?” “Honey, I couldn’t be happier than if they were based on real grades.”

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