Teen films have a habit of transcending cinema and spilling out into the wider world. Phrases become part of every day chat. Fashion trends are born. Maybe it’s that – from The Breakfast Club to Mean Girls and beyond – teen movies tap into a nostalgia we can all appreciate, harking back to a time before the crushing despair of having to fill in tax assessments and all the other mundane bullshit of adult life. It probably helps that they’re pretty universal too. Almost everyone once went to school. Almost everyone had to work out their space amid the popular cliques, the nerds, the goths, the jocks – all while wrestling with the complex hormonal shit-storm that is adolescence. Whether you got your education at a comp in Grimsby or a £50k a year private mecca in Kensington, the framework is pretty much the same.
The greatest coming-of-age teen film of them all, Clueless, turns 20 this week (July 19). Its glossy wonderland of knee socks, plaid and ridiculous behaviour takes a shallow world – an American high school full of bratty Generation Xers – and gives it heart, telling a timeless story of love and friendship. Oh and falling for a guy who is kind of sort of your brother.
It’s not all one big house party though. As if! There are also some important life lessons we can learn from the highs and lows of Cher Horowitz (played by Alicia Silverstone) and her fellow beautiful people of Beverly Hills. So sit down, locate your trusty fluffy pink pen and get ready, because these tips will make sure you turn out like, totally capable.
Help those who are less fortunate than you
Some people are what’s known as a work in progress, and it is your job as an already classic dresser, humanitarian and general all-round model young adult to take these people and show them their full potential. In the film, Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy) is shown the error of her dungaree-wearing ways and transported into the top tier of high school babe-dom with little more than some curlers, a cute mini and one of the best makeover scenes ever. If you can save someone from a life of being an eternal Monet (fine from a distance, but not so hot close up), then you must. It is your duty to the world to nurture those less fortunate than you and graciously help your fellow (wo)man.
Just because you are young and beautiful, it does not mean that you cannot also be a grade A student – even if you have to get there by improving your teachers’ personal future happiness through an elaborately staged romantic stunt, thus making his overall mood better, thus making him more likely to raise your score. Your powers of persuasion are a totally legit way to improve your grades. Both in and out of school, you should dream big like Cher and never cease trying to make those dreams a reality, by hook or by crook.
If you have just had any kind of facial modification, you in no way want to partake in any activity where balls fly at your nose. Even if that does eliminate large portions of your social life, like it does for Amber (Elisa Donovan).
Sometimes it is hard being a young woman, even if you do have the way normal life of someone like Cher. Luckily, some totally decent advances in modern technology are here to help you out. Cher had a computer program that helped her pick out her day’s outfit back in a time when app was still short for appointment. You too should show that level of forward thinking. Beats1. Tidal. Google Glass. Get involved.
It’s okay to be different
Sure, if you end up falling in love with someone who has essentially been raised as your stepbrother, it might raise a few eyebrows. But who cares about those losers? Whatever. You know your own mind and anyway, it’s not like you’re blood relations. Take a leaf out of Cher’s book: as long as you’re not committing a federal offence, then do what makes you happy and fuck what everyone else thinks.
Your inner friendship circle is a something to cherish
Even though the blossoming relationship between Cher and Josh (Paul Rudd) is the cherry on the top of Clueless’ perfectly decorated cupcake, at its heart it’s also a story about friends. Cher and Dionne (Stacey Dash) are BFFs, tied by the sacred bond that only two pals who have both been named after singers from the past who now do infomercials can share. When you find your Dionne, then lovingly mock her choice in hats for all you’re worth but never underestimate the power of friendship.