Amy Heckerling's film Clueless is an appropriation of Jane Austen's Emma, closely paralleling the story in terms of plot and characterisation. The similar and different perceptions of the same values in the two texts provide the audience a greater understanding and insight of the values, even though their context may vary vastly. The attitude towards certain values such as marriage, social status and education in both texts are reinforced by each other. Is the film just another "modern" remake of a great novel? Perhaps not, lets have a closer look.
Even though now Emma is considered a canonical text, during the time of first publication it would have been perceived the same way as Clueless (just another "teen flick"). The audience of both texts, to begin with were very minute, for Emma it would have been the upper middle class and the aristocrats, whereas Clueless would appeal to the female, western, teenage audience. The audience that have been enlightened by both texts (a minority no doubt) gain an insight into the values created by the characters in both texts as the different perception of these values reinforce each other. .
Clueless is set in the late twentieth century in Beverly Hills, USA where emphasis lies on individualism and consumerism. Clueless from the very beginning centralises on self-image and commodities, these values are reflected by the designer clothing and product placement in the film. Cher is always seen wearing designer clothing (such as Calvin Klein plus others) and an example of product placement is when Cher is looking for a suitor for Mr Hall (her teacher) but then a "Snickers" bar on the teacher's table easily distracts her. Even Cher's transformation is portrayed through her change in dress sense, from wearing short, binding skirts to more innocent, conservative clothing such as pants and a pastel coloured shirt. There are many more examples of where self-image is seen to be important value of this society.