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Heckerling's Clueless

In: English and Literature

Submitted By katgoesmeow
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kerlingHow does Heckerling Use Satire in Clueless to Ridicule, Expose and Criticise People’s Stupidity or Vices in the Western World?
Through the use of satire in Clueless, the director, Heckerling allows the audience to delve into a text which highlights materialist consumerism and the lack of morality in teenage behaviour. It enables us to closely examine society’s flaws as well as how these flaws influence teenagers to act in such shameful manner. Heckerling ridicules the concept of materialist consumerism by using black humour and satirically depicting characters such as Cher in a shallow light. This provokes the responder to criticise society’s obsession with materialism. Thus, the film exposes the negative impacts of fashion labels on teenagers’ views on status and self-image. Moreover, Heckerling criticises our disconnection from human values and represents this stereotypically continuously. Throughout the film, we are aware that it is what they own and how they wear that count, not who they are. This social commentary directs us to the superficiality and the absence of ethics of teenagers because of the materialism and consumerism they embrace.
Society’s fascination with materialist consumerism drives individuals to self-indulge excessively. Heckerling ridicules the flamboyant lifestyle people seem to lead today and the heavy influence of commercialism. The issue is raised from the beginning of the film where we are introduced to Cher’s life through a series of montages and non-diegetic sound where we observe Cher talking about how their lives look like a ‘Noxema commercial’ but in reality is ‘way normal.’ This indicates the stereotypical teenage life in America and satirises the materialist consumerism of the ostentatious life they lead. Heckerling critiques the consumerism method to relieve stress in the scene where Cher buys a material product yet she is still worried over her report card. The conversation following where Dionne asks Cher if she is ‘suffering from buyer’s remorse’ and Cher replies ‘Oh, God no’ depicts how materialism is such a large part of their live that one of your worst problem would be regretting a purchase. Heckerling is attacking how materialist consumerism is ineffective and far from beneficial yet people are still influenced to buy. The consumerism in the movie allows her to subtly attack how American society is strongly urged to be materialist and points out the major impacts of commercialism on popular culture.
As the responder, we are compelled to reflect upon our way of thinking and human values due to factors such as materialist consumerism having negatively impacted popular culture and consequently, teenage behaviour. The panning of the cliques at school as well as the party scene show us teenagers’ code of conduct and proper protocol in reference to popular culture. Heckerling mocks the way teenage girls worry over their appearance and status which in turn adds to their superficiality and vicious behaviour. Girls are criticised because of their naivety, manipulative behaviour and how they are constantly, purposefully, sexually exposed. Whereas, over-exaggeration and satire are constantly used as a tool to ridicule boys’ fashion, lack of intelligence and reckless manner such as the scene where they get their report cards and Travis’s suicide attempt is seen as normal and to be expected. Furthermore, Heckerling uses Tai to demonstrate the dramatic change in character from country girl to the more homogenised style of her peers. Heckerling satirises how you must change yourself to be accepted and criticise how teenagers cannot experience feelings and emotions beyond the superficial. Thus these representations of specific type of behaviours are exposed to highlight the flaws in their moral sense and ridicule modern values.
Clueless explores the issues of materialist consumerism and teenage behaviour by satirically portraying society being dominated by labels and the absurdity of manners taken up by teenagers in the western world. Heckerling utilises satire to expose our infatuation with materialist consumerism and the consumption of commercialism in America. The text criticises how contemporary values ideals have shifted through irony and over-exaggeration in several scenes. The stereotypical portrayal of teenagers incites responders to question young people’s way of thinking and their sense of humanity as the film depicts them having a lack of understanding and knowledge as well as their focus on status and self-image. The conventions of popular culture being satirised in Clueless provide a sense of self-awareness among the audience of society’s mesmerisation with materialism and has enabled us to acknowledge the negative forms of teenage behaviour.

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