Clueless: Social Class and Harriet Smith

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Emma/Clueless • Amy Heckerling’s teenpic comedy Clueless resonates the ideas, values and cultural assumptions evident in Jane Austen’s Emma • Through the transformation of Austen’s text, several elements have been transformed and contemporised in the Heckerling’s Clueless ▪ Make-over/transformation ▪ Role of women in patriarchal society ▪ Struggles of social classes: the mobility and fluidity of the class structure ▪ Societal commentary ▪ Love and marriage (matchmaking, flirtation) • The most important element of both Emma and Clueless is the “make-over”/transformation of Harriet Smith (Emma) and Tai (Clueless) • Both Emma and Cher desire to create a…show more content…
• Through the transformation process, Heckerling has ensured that her flim comments of many issues in society – much as Austen endeavoured to do in her novels • However, with the transformation process, the manners in which these comments are made have changed. In Emma, Austen uses mainly authorial intrusions and commentary to comment on her society. In Clueless, Heckerling uses pastiche in her commentary on society • Pastiche is the deliberate reference or allusion to an object/text/symbol etc for academic or artistic value: this is shown at many points of the film: ▪ Dionne: rough winds do shake the darlin buds of May, but they eternal love shall never fade. Phat! Did you write that? Cher: duh, it’s like, a famous quote! D: from where? C: Cliff’s notes ▪ The quote is, of course, from a famous Shakespearean sonnet however Cher believes it to be from the popular study guide Cliff’s Notes ▪ This deliberate misplacement of cultural knowledge is called cultural catachresis. Through this, Heckerling comments on the lack of value for high cultural knowledge in a generation grounded in materialism and commercialism ▪ Similarly, this is evident in the scene where Josh and Heather are arguing and Cher demonstrates this cultural catachresis again: • Heather: it’s like Hamlet said ‘to thine own self be true’ Cher: uh Hamlet didn’t
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