back when we were clueless

photo from imdb

Just the other night, i put Clueless in the player for the nth time. I kinda like it as background noise while i work. It's one of those flicks that I "watch" at least once a year, particularly when I'm bored or depressed, because it's so light and upbeat and slightly nostalgic.

To tell you the truth, i used to hate Clueless when it showed here in 1995. I was seventeen then, around the same age of the characters in the story. Aside from our age bracket, there was not much else I shared with Cher, Dion, Tai et al. I rolled my eyes at seeing the trailer; i was certain it was shallow and hollow. A friend who actually saw it (and whose intelligent opinions I valued) confirmed my suspicions and said it was the sort of movie that would make your brain cells commit suicide.

As a teenager who was expected to see this movie about teenagers produced by an adult who has probably forgotten how it actually is to be a teenager and thus talked down to his target audience, i just abhorred Clueless. I thought it was a horrible misrepresentation of our generation - it made such a big deal of the shallowness of a '90s teen. It even showcased exaggerated costume-ish fashion.


I don't recall ever watching it at the cinema, but i must have watched it somewhere because I knew enough to compare it with the TV series. Imagine that, someone came up with the bad idea of a Clueless TV series. I managed to catch a few minutes of it with my then-little sister, and we both thought it was even dumber than the movie. It was short-lived of course.

Just a few years ago though, when i was already a working, earning adult, I caught Clueless on cable. I didn't mind watching it, given that the alternatives on other channels were blah B-movie action flicks. And here's the twist: I actually found myself liking it this time. I still thought it was silly, shallow and a poor misrepresentation of the '90s teen, but its youthful, nostalgic appeal made it so bright and shiny to an overworked, underpaid adult who used to be a '90s teen. Perhaps i no longer found it so offensive because I didn't feel so assaulted by it anymore?

I used to think it as stupid as its heroine, but I can now see how smart it actually is. Aside from the fact that it's based on Jane Austen's acclaimed classic, Emma, it's got its sensible points. It's a satirical social commentary of sorts, intentionally exaggerated, intentionally silly-fied. Though the characters are so clueless, the script is actually witty and cleverly-written. And though its far from an accurate depiction, it somewhat crystallized the 'tude of teen-hood in the mid-'90s. It even spurred a whole new wave of jargon that people from five to thirty-five still use today.

I can't ignore the soundtrack either. Though some songs were from the mid-'80s (proof that it was produced by someone who was young in the '80s), the rest are just so 1990s. The Cranberries, Radiohead, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Jill Sobule - those hits in my college playlist that conjure memories of those years when things were so much simpler, when it wasn't so bad to be so clueless.
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