A wise woman once said, “Searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.”
That woman was Cher Horowitz, queen of Beverly Hills High, whose life was chronicled in possibly the greatest film of all time, “Clueless.” You may love it because it was based off the novel “Emma” by Jane Austen, or you may love it because of how perfectly quotable it is, or because of the fashion, or because Paul Rudd somehow looks older in that film, which debuted almost 20 years ago, than he does today. I love it for all of those reasons – but also because “Clueless” taught me everything I need to know about life.
Here’s what I learned (SPOILER ALERT, y’all):
Confidence is key. Remember when Tai waltzed right into Beverly Hills High, grungy plaid shirt, hair piled on top of her head, cut-off shorts? She didn’t shirk away from the other girls, who were perfectly done up and stereotypically good-looking. Instead, she rocked her accent, fell for a skateboarding stoner after they bonded over Marvin the Martian, and put her own twist on the makeover Cher and Dionne gave her. And Cher? She was a virgin who couldn’t drive, and she was fine with that; saving herself for Luke Perry was something she felt proud of, not ashamed.
Fight for what you believe in. While it’s true Cher didn’t take school very seriously, she did care about her grades and she’d stop at nothing to make sure they were top-notch (except, you know, actually studying and doing work). She was an excellent debater, impressive negotiator, and always knew her worth. Meanwhile, Dionne demanded her boyfriend, Murray, treat her with respect by calling her “Ms. Dionne” instead of “woman.”
Don’t feel bad about caring about your appearance. Cher had the closet we all coveted: it rotated to present all of her clothing options, and also came with a computer that let her put her outfits together before she even tried them on. Cher cared about her appearance, but was still a decent person; she showed that caring about fashion doesn’t mean you’re vapid and self-centered. Unless you were Amber.
Give back. Not only did Cher take new girl Tai under her wing, she gave her an amazing makeover, she played Cupid for Miss Geist and Mr. Hall, she kept Daddy’s health in check, and she organized a charity drive for the Pismo Beach disaster relief efforts. She was basically a saint.
It’s OK to ask for help. When Cher was mugged at gunpoint and made to lay down in her designer dress, she wasn’t too proud to call Josh and ask him to pick her up. Even though it was the middle of the night. And he was about to get laid.
There’s always something to learn. While writing a card to Miss Geist from Mr. Hall, Cher used a famous quote from the prolific writer, Cliff’s Notes. Dionne, impressed, learned something new that day. During Tai’s makeover, Cher encouraged Tai to learn new words and to try to use it in a sentence. To seem cultured and well-versed, the rule of thumb was not to practice only sporadically. Meanwhile, Dionne learned to drive with the help of Murray, even if she did almost kill them on the highway. Tai learned a new dance, “Rolling With the Homies,” which I like to break into at slow moments during parties.
Friends keep you sane. Cher and Dionne, both popular, gorgeous, and rich, could easily have become enemies in the heartless world of Beverly Hills High. Instead, they bonded over their love of shopping, their names (which paid homage to famous singers of the past who went on to do infomercials), their amazing catch phrases, and everyone else’s jealousy. When Dionne got a bad grade, who was there to commiserate? Cher. When Cher was feeling down, who took her shopping? Dionne.
Never make assumptions. It was a hard lesson to learn, but when Cher needed Jose the gardener to clear out a bush at her mansion, she had to ask Lucy, her housekeeper, for help. Lucy was puzzled – why couldn’t Cher ask? “Lucy, you know I don’t speak Mexican,” Cher said. But Lucy was from El Salvador. Ouch. On top of that, she assumed the super-cute new kid, Christian, was straight, and went to great lengths to get him to like her – sending herself chocolates, creating a romantic evening together at her mansion. Turns out, he was gay.
Be yourself. Even though Cher tried to mold Tai into Cher 2.0, she realized Tai was better off staying true to herself. And she spent the entire movie fighting her feelings toward Josh, her former step-brother (that’s not weird at all, right?), but it was clear: Cher was totally, butt-crazy in love with Josh. It just goes to show that you can change your appearance. You can change your vocabulary. But you can’t change who you are.
Be sure to check out All I Ever Needed to Know about Friendships I Learned from Spice World. Photo credit RottenTomatoes.com.
- In Praise Of ‘Clueless,’ On The Occasion Of Its 18th Birthday (thinkprogress.org.feedsportal.com)
- 35 ‘Clueless’ Quotes That Make Everyday Life Worth Living (thoughtcatalog.com)
- Things We Learned From Clueless (austenblog.com)