How does Heckerling??™s Clueless sustain interest in the values presented in Austen??™s EmmaAmy Heckerling??™s Clueless, while maintaining the core plot and tone of Jane Austen??™s Emma, sustains interest by its appropriation into a humorous teen flick in a post-modern style. Heckerling adopts the narrative and characterisation of the 19th century novel and transforms it to a contemporary film that satirises the consumer-driven world of 1990s Los Angeles, presenting it with a more blatant and slapstick humour to suit the changed values of society.Emma is set in early 19th century Highbury, a parochial society dominated by class structure, which placed males of inherited wealth at the top of the strict social ladder. Austen illustrates a patriarchal society, in which in order to advance or maintain the female??™s position in society, marriage is an absolute necessity. The responders are made aware of this by the portrayal of Miss Bates as the object of pity within Highbury.
She is an unmarried middle-aged, middle-classed woman, everything women of that time aspired not to become. Knightley??™s declaration ???she has sunk from the comfort she was born to??? highlights this inevitable link between class and marriage. Thus, Emma, being already considered in the highest social status, believes she can be removed from the imperative of marriage. She describes herself as having ???none of the usual inducement of women to marry???, which further exemplifies marriage as being a tool for women to obtain wealth and position. Emma??™s astonishment at Mr. Elton??™s proposal towards herself, rather than Harriet is rich in dramatic irony as Emma expects Elton to ignore class while she is in disgust of the idea that a ???lower-classed??? man like Mr. Elton would ask for her hand in marriage. Through this Austen depicts the contradictions that her society has to class and marriage.
However, although she is somewhat critical of this social order, the story eventuates in the marriage of characters of equal class, Mr Elton with Mrs. Elton, Mr. Martin with Harriet and Mr.
Knightley with Emma, which reveals her support of the class structure.In Clueless, the setting is dramatically changed by Heckerling into 1990s Beverly Hills, the epitome of superficiality and consumerism. Here, although relationships are still a priority, marriage is not the sole and primary objective. There are constant references to divorce, with Mr.
Horowitz having been married four times and Christian Cher??™s ex-stepbrother dividing his time between his two families. This illustrates the impermanent nature of marriage and families in contemporary times in the ???disposable??? society of 20th century America. Moreover, there is no longer a need for women to get married in order to achieve wealth and status, due to the changed rights and roles of women. However, Clueless still portrays the stigma attached to being single, with the ludicrous illustration of Cher matching her teachers together in order for their happiness, so that she can argue her way to better grades. Furthermore, to accommodate for modern society??™s lighter attitudes to sexual relationships, sexuality is openly discussed in Hecekerling??™s film. Sex before marriage, which would have been completely unacceptable in Emma??™s traditionalist society, is shown to be the norm in Cher??™s social group. Although Cher is shown to be more conservative than her peers, her clothing and makeup are still sexually suggestive. Cher??™s saying ???You know how fussy I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet!??? is rich in humour, and whilst entertaining the audience with the illustration of Cher??™s naivety, it shows Hecekerling??™s disapproval of the values of contemporary society, where people are more careful about the choice of their outfits than their sexual partners.
Furthermore, the idea of Christian??™s homosexuality is depicted as an object of humour rather than of disdain, which shows the newfound acceptance of society. However, in the end Heckerling, like Austen endorses conservatism, depicting Cher to submit to the sensible male figure, Christian, and submitting to his favours by wearing pastel coloured clothes and a sensible amount of makeup as he declares, ???college girls wear less makeup???.Moreover, the notions of social structure are underlined in both Emma and Clueless, with emphasis placed on the upper class. In Emma, Austen portrays a hierarchical system where one??™s birth, wealth and land strictly denoted their class. Thus Emma, being the head of the genteel society has no equal in Highbury. Moreover, Mr. Knightley, being the master of Donwell Abbey, takes his position very seriously being the gentle and paternalistic ???caretaker??? of everyone around him.
Furthermore, Jane Fairfax, although being a thoroughly accomplished woman, must improve her social position through her marriage to Frank Churchill.Similarly, in Clueless ???class structure??? is still evident, however is appropriated into cliques to suit the social setting. Cher??™s commentary of the schoolyard, which describes the ???loadies??? who ???no respectable girl would date???, the ???Persian Mafia??? who require the ownership of a BMW to be part of show a stereotypical structure of an American high school.
Naturally, the blonde, wealthy and beautiful Cher is the cliched leader of the popular group, which reveal that rather than heritage, appearance and popularity is the currency of class. The idea of relationships between classes being unthinkable is maintained in Clueless with Elton being repulsed by dating Tai uttering, ???Don??™t you know who my father is??? in which Heckerling maintains the concept of the folly of class structure. Josh, the stepson of a respected lawyer is shown to be a community leader also, however Heckerling accommodates for the change in context by depicting him as caring for a global village, not a secluded society. This is shown by his t-shirts supporting Amnesty International and Breast Cancer awareness, the infatuation of 20th century people with celebrity highlighted by the fact that these institutions require the support of icons such as Marky Mark.In addition to this, Austen employs formal and elevated English with long, balanced sentences to be appropriate in a society that valued order and restraint.
Contrasting to this, Heckerling accommodates for the newfound social values by employing colloquial and direct language, which is full of slangs and euphemisms, which is representative of the openness of American society. The devaluation of true education is further emphasized by Cher??™s attempt of appearing intelligent by her quoting ???shall I compare thee to a summer??™s day??? thinking Cliff??™s Notes is the author and her knowing Hamlet solely because of Mel Gibson.Thus both texts demonstrate the characters and their worlds with a similar satirical tone. This exemplifies the hypocrisy of class system through humour and dramatic irony as well as Emma??™s faults in judgements about people due to the fact that she thinks ???a little too well of herself???, which is parallelled by Cher. However these follies and mistakes add interest to the character of the heroine.Furthermore, in Clueless, Amy Heckerling adds several cliched elements to comically satirise the consumer-driven world of the 20th century. Cher is a spoilt and naive princess of a post-modern world and the montage of the opening shows the gap between Cher??™s understanding of her privilege and her actual situation.
The mis-en-scene into the world of Cher reveals a life full of movement and action where cars, friends and parties dominate. The playing of the song ???Kids in America??? underscores the incredible perkiness of Cher??™s life, a consumer paradise, the dream of every American teen. This ironically negates the Cher??™s voiceover ???I have a way normal life for a teenager???, revealing that she is the product of her superficial world, but is ignorant to the outside world. This is further supported by the humorous occasion of Cher asking, ???I thought they declared peace in the Middle East??? about the news report on Bosnia. This notion builds up to a scene employing all the cliches of cinema when Cher realises her love for Josh.
The music ???All by myself??? in the background swells and the fountain bursts at the moment of her realisation, making a commentary about society??™s blindness to subtleties like in Emma due to their overexposure to cliched images.Thus while Heckerling??™s film Clueless remains faithful to the plot and tone of Austen??™s Emma, she appropriates the film to suit the changed nature of society. Both the film and the novel follow the transformation of the heroine, containing satirical undertones about elite society, but Heckerling vastly alters the context and presentation in order to engage a 20th century public, which has a completely transformed moral code.