When A Movie Memes: An Exercise In Relevance

The end goal of nearly every movie is to make money and have a staying power within them to continue to make money throughout the years. In other words, a movie production company wants their films to stick around and stay relevant for a while so they can continue to keep the lights on in their studios, and by far the most effective way to ensure that your work will make money in this day and age is to make it into a meme-level masterpiece.

Just what is a “meme?” Is it simply a case of young people reveling in benevolent surrealism, or is there something more there? Could the meme be the thing that saves the economy, brings peace to the Middle East, and brings political stability to the world? I’m here to at least argue on behalf of the first one. But first, we must define the meme, and Merriam-Webster defines a meme as “an amusing or interesting picture, video, etc., that is spread widely through the Internet.” Many cultural and sub-cultural media staples in the past few years have either started life as a meme, or have simply had the title thrust upon them later in life.

Take, for example, the likes of Shrek and the Bee Movie, two classic examples of meme-level movies.


Firstly, Shrek, we see here, through Google Trends, the amount of people searching for the movie in red, and the amount of people searching for the meme in blue. Here, the movie becomes the meme, and the relatively recent uptick in searches for the movie, from July 17 to August 13 2016, in which the movie surpasses the meme, can only be attributed to the passing of the meme and the resurgence of the source material. It is my professional opinion as a Meme Historian, that soon we will see the return of the meme, the lowering interest in the movie, a lowering interest in the meme, another return of the movie, and so on in a cyclical fashion.

It is my further opinion that one would be very wise to get in on the ground floor of this operation once more and check out the movie that made the meme, Shrek. #Shrekislove #Shrekislife


Secondly, we have here the Google Trends for Bee Movie, a true cinematic masterpiece if ever there was one, and widely praised as the greatest love story between a woman and a bee ever told. It is here compared to another, lesser romance film, the 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, with Bee Movie in blue, and Romeo and Juliet in red. Clearly, the superior film, and the superior meme, takes the gold here, and it proves my point, a movie that memes is a movie that stays.

Why not follow the crowd and be one of the cool kids for once? Check out Bee Movie, and relive the greatest love story ever told.

And when all else fails, and feel yourself lost and confused within the rambling shelves of movies here at Media Services, just remember: do it for the meme.

Enjoy! -Samantha Leigh Sims

Need New Shows to Binge On? Look No Further!

This time of the year is great for several reasons…The weather is finally transitioning from the suffocating heat of the summer to the invigorating beauty of fall, the impending celebration of Halloween is sure to motivate people to tap into their imaginative side and get creative with their costumes, and of course…pumpkin everything. However, nothing quite compares to the joy of finding new shows to binge on or obsess over, and with this time of the year comes new TV shows! So here to help you find your new addiction is a compilation of several recently released/soon to be released shows.

  • Marvel’s Luke Cage (Netflix)
Image result for luke cage tv show

Premiere Date: Friday Sept. 30- Marvel TV shows have been serious hits with the likes of Jessica Jones and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, so it’s no huge surprise that their newest addition has received rave reviews from critics as well as viewers. Mike Colter stars as the titular character possessing superhuman strength and durability, and this show promises to delve deeper into the past of one of the first black superheroes ever. It is sure to be a MARVELous watch, so check it out!




  • No Tomorrow (The CW)

    No Tomorrow Poster

Premiere Date: Monday Oct, 10- Anyone who has a bucket list prepared/ needs some inspiration for a bucket list, this show is for you. And for those simply looking to live vicariously through others, well, this show is also for you. The premise of the show is based on a girl named Evie whose life is upturned when she meets the free-spirited Xavier who, convinced the apocalypse is coming in eight months, sets out on a grand adventure, dragging Evie along for the race to check off as much as possible from their “apocalyst.”



  • This is Us (NBC)

    This Is Us (2016) Poster

Premiere Date: Tuesday Sept, 20- You’ve seen her in The Walk to Remember, you’ve seen him in Gilmore Girls, prepare to see them in This Is Us if you haven’t already. This show starring Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia follows the couple and their friends who share the same birthday as they navigate through the highs and lows of life. This show has only been on for a few weeks, and it has already gained an impressive fan base, so I urge you to fall into this series ASAP.




  • Frequency (The CW)

    Frequency Poster

Premiere Date: Wednesday Oct, 5- Everyone loves a good time travelling story, and this one is bound to be interesting. It follows Detective Raimy who begins communicating with her NYPD officer father after 20 years. Sounds like a good father-daughter relationship bonding thing right? Only problem is that her father has been dead for those 20 years he was absent from her life (freeeaakky) and we can’t really blame the guy— being dead and all, there wasn’t much he could’ve done. Communicating through a ham radio, they have to solve issues from their past and set things right, and in the process, they have to work through the rift in their relationship. So I guess it could be a good father-daughter relationship bonding thing. Keep an eye out if you’re a fan of all things dramystery.


  • MacGyver (CBS)

    MacGyver Poster

Premiere Date: Friday Sept, 23- The reboot of the classic action-adventure series proves that 2016 is the year of remakes. This show stars Lucas Till as the ever-so-handy MacGyver as it follows him in his 20’s as he starts his life as a secret agent for the government.



Happy watching!-RE

Remake, Reboot, Prequel, Sequel…?!

These days our theaters are flooded with movie ideas both new, old and something else entirely. I’d like to point to two of the more recent additions: Blair Witch and The Magnificent Seven.

The newest Blair Witch film hit theaters this September and has garnered some very mixed reviews that often stemmed from whether or not the viewer had seen the original film (The Blair Witch Projector not. In some instances, some didn’t even know there was an original to be watched.


This horror film is centered around the ending result of the first movie where a group went off into the woods to do a graduation project documentary on an infamous witch who inhabits the area. To add to the authenticity of the film, it is filmed in the (now popular) found-footage style which allows for the audience to see events as if they happened from the perspective of the character holding the camera. It is also important to note that the movie creators went even further to put up wanted posters for the students who had been in the movie to make audiences believe it was real and the a large majority of the audience actually did believe it!

This new incarnation takes the classic movie into 2016, complete with all the video technology one might find these days from drones to earbuds. This sequel opened the story to many new possibilities including a lot more effects and a budget the first couldn’t even dream of and some scenes not for the faint of stomach. If you enjoyed the first, I would recommend it.


If you haven’t seen the first yet, I highly recommend watching it before this new film, otherwise you won’t get the full viewing experience as they story writers intend. The new film gives a few bits of what happened in the first, yes, but I personally didn’t feel it could stand on it’s own.

The Magnificent Seven is a fun movie because it’s a remake of a remake (The Magnificent Seven from 1960). The original is one of Japan’s most well-known samurai films called Seven Samurai, which is about seven men who are hired by poor farmers to defend their villages against bandits.


If you’ve seen the first Magnificent Seven, then this will sound pretty familiar as the plots are very much alike. The cowboy versions are just a very westernized version of the classic tale told in Seven Samurai… and some could even say that The Avengers pays great homage to the story as well!


Needless to say, both classic films movies that inspired this newest Magnificent Seven are amazing and definitely worth watching but are not needed to enjoy the latest version. The material isn’t stale in the slightest and this cast brings a breath of fresh air to the old genre and is a very enjoyable remake. With lots of action and gun shows, along with a very diverse seven leading the way, it gives westerns a chance to impress audiences one again.


With more remakes, continuations and other movies hitting theaters, I will do my best to keep you posted!


The Bee Movie

Image source: http://dev.jetsetstudios.com/portfolio/beemovie/

Bee Movie (2007) stars Jerry Seinfeld as Barry B. Benson who is a bee that wants more to life than to just making honey. He ventures out into the real world and discovers that honey is a product in grocery stores. Barry is horrified at the situation so he decides to sue the human race for stealing the bee’s precious honey. You’ll have to watch the movie to see what happens next!

Recently, we showed this film on the display computer at the main counter and within a time span of half an hour, many groups of people stopped to watch and reminisce. It’s a film who’s intended audience is kids, however, there is something in it for everyone. Come check it out at the Media Services department today!


Foreign Films you Wouldn’t Want to Miss

As there are so many movies to pick from, it is easy to look over great movies; especially if they are foreign.  Many people are disdainful to the idea of watching foreign movies, as they must either deal with reading subtitles or watching a poorly done dub.  Not only that, but often times, foreign films have names that make little to no sense to viewers who only speak English; and are sometimes difficult to find.  Although there are many obstacles when it comes to finding a foreign film to watch, in the end, many times the struggle is worth it.  


Y Tu Mama Tambien (2002)

  Y Tu Mama Tambien is a mexican drama depicting the story of two teenage boys (Julio and Tenoch) embarking on a roadtrip with a 28-year old woman (Lusia), searching for a fictitious beach called Heaven’s Mouth.  Y Tu Mama Tambien earned $2.2 million it’s opening weekend, and is, to date, the highest box office opening in Mexican cinema history.






City of God (2002)

One of my all-time favorite movies, City of God is one of the better known foreign films.  City of God is a Brazilian film focused on the rise and fall of rival gangs, witnessed through the eyes of a teenager named Rocket.  City of God has received worldwide critical acclaim, as it depicts the reality of living in the Brazilian slums.




Teddy Bear (2012)

Teddy Bear is a Danish film about a 38-year old bodybuilder named Dennis, who lives with his possessive and overbearing mother Ingrid.  Dennis has not had a girlfriend in his entire life, and decides to take a trip to Thailand in hopes to find love.




Even though there are multitudes of blockbuster films being released from Hollywood, foreign films provide the viewer with unfamiliar experiences.  The reason for this, I believe, is because Hollywood producers (with a few exceptions, e.g. David Lynch) have the pressure of creating films that don’t stray far from what is considered “normal”, in attempt to recreate successful box office hits.  In contrast, foreign films, more often than not, do not have that social pressure and many times go beyond what you would expect a movie to portray.  Above, I have compiled a few selections of some of my personal favorite foreign films that anyone could enjoy.


2016: The Fall of Film, the Rise of TV?

2016: The Fall of Film, the Rise of TV?


2016 has now become, to many, a terribly disappointing year in cinema. There are only a handful of films that have genuinely (and positively) surprised people, as well as garnering a respectable amount of buzz… but of all the films that have had a lot of hype surrounding them… almost all of them have either flopped or been seen as just “bad movies”. On the other hand, it seems that television shows, mainly streaming shows on Netflix or other original series, have grown to become popular and well-received, even after just one season. It’s almost as if TV is surpassing film in quality of story this year. Of course, there are, and always will be, exceptions to any rule, but I’d say there have been many more disappointments in film than TV this year, and many more surprises in TV than in film.

Below is a list of five of some of the most disappointing films from this year, so far. This is not a list of the “worst” films, but rather a list of films that did not live up to the hype that the marketing (or the cast/filmmakers) built around the film.


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice


Independence Day: Resurgence

Jason Bourne

Suicide Squad

Notice, if you will: all five of these films are either sequels, spinoffs, or remakes, which is probably why so much hype was built around them. Aside from Ghostbusters, all of these films are either the return for a popular franchise that has been dormant for some time, or was a sequel with a lot of promise, and they are all big-budget-blockbusters. So why did they disappoint? It seems as though studios are pushing the amount of films they make a year to maximize profits, but they are not pushing the quality of films with as much priority, which ironically minimizes profits. Either way, all five of these films will soon be forgotten (maybe). Of course, it’s still too early to say that all of 2016 was a disappointment, but summer 2016 has definitely let cinemagoers down. Even Disney released Alice Through the Looking Glass which proves that not even Disney Magic can save this year.



Master of None (Netflix)

The Night Of (HBO)

The People vs OJ Simpson (FX)

Preacher (AMC)

Stranger Things (Netflix)

 On the other hand, here are five NEW television shows which debuted their first seasons this year- all to extremely positive reviews. Personally, I have yet to see most of these, so I cannot comment on the quality myself, but I have seen “Master of None” and I can say that it is a hilarious and thought-provoking series that contains a lot of social commentary on race, age, gender, sexuality, and love. If I were you, I’d give this short 5-hour show a watch, and then  watch the other 4 shows listed as well. “Game of Thrones,” “The Americans,” “Orange is the New Black,” “House of Cards,” “Daredevil,” “Better Call Saul,” and “Mr. Robot” are some other great shows that have come back with another season so far in 2016, and all are worth a watch!

If you haven’t, definitely check out them all out (maybe instead of the films listed above), as you most likely are sure to be surprisingly satisfied. What are some of the most disappointing films you’ve seen this year? And what are some of the best TV series as well? Be sure to share what you think, as well as if you agree or disagree with the films and shows I’ve chosen. And, of course, stop by Media Services in the basement of Wells Library to watch the surprisingly best TV shows and films of 2016, as well as from every other year as well!


-Blake Schwarz

Moving Image Collections & Archives Host 20th Annual African Film Festival, September 12-15, 2016

The 20th African Film Festival Traveling Series is sponsored by IU Libraries Media Services, Black Film Center/Archive, the African Studies program, The Media School’s Cinema and Media Arts program, the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, the Department of History, the Department of Comparative Literature, and the IU Cinema. Special thanks are due to Brian Graney of the Black Film Center/Archive and Alimah Boyd of the African Film Festival, Inc.


Head Gone (2014, Dir. Dare Fasasi)
Monday, September 12, 2016 | 7:00 p.m. | IU Cinema
Nigeria/Sweden, 111 min. In English & Pidgin with English subtitles. Introduction by Professor Akin Adesokan, Comparative Literature, and Cinema and Media Studies at the Media School.

Facebook Event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1564260263876037/

Due to a road mishap, a bus driver loses a group of psychiatric patients on the way to a federal hospital. To cover up the mistake, he and a nurse pick up unsuspecting commuters to substitute the patients and the plot thickens as the new passengers must try to prove their sanity in a psychiatric institution, while the escapees try to adjust to a new environment. This allegorical comedy of errors features some of Nigeria’s biggest names.

Red Leaves (2014, Dir. Bazi Gete)
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 | 6:00 p.m. | IUB Library Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
Israel, 80 min. In Hebrew and Amharic with English subtitles.

Meseganio Tadela, 74, immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia 28 years ago with his family. He has chosen to zealously retain his culture, talks very little, and hardly speaks Hebrew. After losing his wife, Meseganio sets out on a journey that leads him through his children’s homes. He comes to realize that he belongs to a rapidly disappearing class that believes in retaining Ethiopian culture. As this harsh reality begins to hit him, he struggles to survive according to his own rules.

Afripedia: Ghana (2014, Dir. by Teddy Goitom, Benjamin Taft and Senay Berhe)
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 | 6:00 p.m. | IUB Library Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
Ghana/Kenya/Sweden, 28 min. In English.

The whispers among connoisseurs talk about Accra as the next big hotspot for African cultural production, and Afripedia: Ghana suggests they’re not wrong. Meet outspoken and androgynous music star Wiyaala, exciting trick-bikers whose BMX skills and flamboyant style have taken neighborhoods by storm. Visual artist Afrogallonism puts on extraordinary outdoor performances to highlight environmental issues.

Afripedia: Kenya (2014, Dir. by Teddy Goitom, Benjamin Taft and Senay Berhe)
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 | 6:30 p.m. | IUB Library Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
Ghana/Kenya/Sweden, 28 min. In English.

Take an intimate look at Nairobi’s urban culture scene and its leading personalities and stars. Meet 3D-artist Andrew Kaggia, creator of a 3D-animated political short film, taking you to his futuristic vision of Nairobi and proving that disability is never inability. Afro-futuristic pop band and DIY-enthusiasts Just a Band redefine music videos, and visual artist Cyrus introduces us to his remarkable collection created solely with found materials.

The Longest Kiss /A jamais, pour toujours (2013, Dir. by Alexandra Sicotte-Lévesque)
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 | 7:00 p.m. | IUB Library Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)


The meeting of the Blue and White Nile in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, is referred to as ‘the longest kiss in history.’ As the Arab Spring was in full bloom, Sudan, straddling between the Middle East and Africa, was about to split in two. The film follows six young Sudanese searching for a place to call ‘home’ as their journeys take us up and down the Nile, between north and south Sudan, ahead of the south’s secession. Facing conflicting identities, youth in north Sudan grapple with a stale dictatorship while others in south Sudan hope to start over—but at what costs? For the first time a film gives a voice to Sudanese youth from different origins, Muslims and Christians. It is an intimate portrait of a complex society that bears witness to its inevitable fragmentation.

Cholo (2014, Dir. Muzna Almusafer)
Thursday, September 15, 2016 | 4:00 p.m. | IUB Library Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
Oman, 21 min. In Swahili with English subtitles.

The dark-skinned, 11-year-old Cholo meets his fair-skinned younger stepbrother Abdullah for the first time when their father Said arrives in Muscat. Although strikingly different, the boys have great chemistry. Cholo is a young boy full of imagination and a great love for nature and life. However, jealousy, competitiveness, and curiosity arise between the two, as they go through a journey of self-discovery.

Panic Button (2014, Dir. Libby Dougherty)
Thursday, September 15, 2016 | 4:30 p.m. | IUB Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
South Africa, 25 min. In English.

From the moment that Tshepo, a security guard, breaks through Jenny’s multi-locked door to save her, she feels as if she’s been swept off her feet. But as Jenny imagines herself falling in love with him, an unhealthy, delusional obsession begins to take shape.

The Prophecy (2015, Dir. by Marcia Juzga)
Thursday, September 15, 2016 | 5:00 p.m. | IUB Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
Senegal, 20 min. In French & Wolof with English subtitles.

Concerned about the environmental issues that Senegal is facing, photographer Fabrice Monteiro, in collaboration with the designer “Jah Gal,” created The Prophecy. The objective of this photographic project is to raise global awareness of the environment by combining art, culture, fashion, and tradition. The essence of each site photographed is characterized by a Jinn — supernatural genies omnipresent in African cultures — merging with its environment. Marcia Juzga’s film is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Monteiro’s project.

The African Film Festival National Traveling Series has been organized by the African Film Festival, Inc. This series has been made possible by the generous support of The Bradley Foundation, Domenico Paulon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, contact Monique Threatt at (812)855-1650.

Board Games at the Library!

Here at the Wells Library, we pride ourselves at providing the materials and services you want and need. In Media Services, we have decided to bring in a new feature to our brand new space in the Wells Library Basement.

We have added Board Games to our space!!

That’s right, for any tabletop and board game enthusiasts we now have a plethora of board and card games at our disposal. Now, unlike the rest our items available for checkout the board and card games have to remain in the Media Services area. If you have any questions about borrowing, please talk to us at the circulation desk!

Onto the Games!

A great game that is a great introduction to strategy is a classic, chess! Chess has been around since the 6th century and is great for everyone to play! The game is played on a chessboard, where each player has 16 pieces and the object of the game is to trap the king piece. It may look simple but chess is game of the mind and reading your opponents moves.

chess board


Another fantastic board game is Settlers of Catan, a strategy and resource building game has been popular in America and across the world.  Players assume the roles of settlers, each attempting to build and develop holdings while trading and acquiring resources. Players are rewarded points as their settlements grow; the first to reach a set number of points, typically 10, is the winner. The players roll dice to gather resources, players can trade resources with other players and use resources to build everything from roads to settlements. The game can accommodate 3-4 players and 5-6 with expansions. Game play can take as little as an hour depending on the players. This game is for anyone above age 8.

Catan Board

The last game to boost, is Cards Against Humanity

A quick note about this game, it for 18+ players, and that all of the cards used in the game could be considered offensive. There are a lot of swear words, so be sure to keep your voices low when you play this game. The tagline of the card game is that it is a party game for horrible people.

Don’t let that dissuade you from trying it, it can be a lot of fun especially with old and new friends. The game mechanics are very simple, each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card. The player who uses the black card then chooses the white card that they think is the funniest or what they find most amusing. The game lasts as long as people want to play or until all the black cards have been played.


Be sure to come checkout these games and the rest we have gathered in Media Services!


New Gen Games at Wells Media Center

As of last semester, Spring 16’, the Media Center has started collecting games for the more recent consoles. While we intend to bolster our current collection, you can find out about the ones we currently have below. This is spoiler free info session.

Playstation 4

ps4-until-dawnOur first game for the PS4 is Until Dawn. It’s a decision based horror game that follows the idea of the butterfly effect. If you didn’t know, the butterfly effect is the idea that the tiniest decision has a large effect on possible outcomes in the future. Until Dawn captures this beautifully as you play through the game with complete power over every action the characters take and witness the consequences first-hand. The object of the game is help the characters survive until dawn. You will help seven teenagers get through a night atop a snowy mountain where they are most certainly not alone. Build or break friendships and relationships with the decisions you make all the while knowing that these relationships can be the until-dawn-screenshot-03-ps4-us-07aug14difference between each character making it to the end or dying along the way. Until Dawn has a high replay value and is definitely recommended for those who enjoy horror and decision making.

Xbox One

We acquired two award winning open world games that are sure to give you plenty of hours of gameplay.

cover_large Fallout 4 honestly needs no introductions, but for those who may be new to the franchise, this game takes place in a world a bit different from the other Fallout installments. The world is at war again and the use of nuclear arms has only escalated the world to the point of eminent nuclear Armageddon. Your avatar has been selected to enter one of the many Vaults, underground bomb shelters that were created just for this predicament. After the bombs go off you emerge and are confronted with a battered land. Joining factions, visiting cities and surviving within this new land are just a few of the things your avatar has to worry about in this gorgeous sandbox. If you like first/third person 2889263-fallout4_deathclawattack_1434390891shooters, open world
games, and decision making then this is definitely the game for you as it wraps it all up in a neat bow.2962545-gameplay_fallout4_108060ferals_11082015site
XO62Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is another open world game for Xbox One. You play as a woman named Laura Croft who is on an exhibition to find ancient artifacts when her ship wrecks. Separated from the crew, Laura has to survive in a wilderness where she quickly realizes that she isn’t alone. Create a character that fits your play style. Whether you use stealth with a bow or want to go in guns blazing, getting to the end of story will be quite the thrill. Unlike most games where most of the action intensive moments are in the cut scenes, Tomb Raider puts you in the thick of these moments and forces you to get her out them or earn a gruesome end. This cinematic finesse Tomb Raider earned an M rating for that reason. If you enjoy stealth, open world, and hunting, this game is definitely for you.



While the 3DS isn’t as new as the other consoles, we have acquired our first game for it only just recently.

If you enjoy turn based strategy than the Fire Emblem franchise has you pegged. Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright is the most recent installment the series. Your prince or princess strives to prevent all-out war between the kingdoms of Nohr and Hoshido. This installments has three possible outcomes that branch off at the point where you are forced to pick a side. In the Birthright edition, you fight for Hoshido. Along the way, your avatar and their army’s characters can fire-emblem-fates-birthright-screenshot-04develop relationships with one another that strengthen bonds in battles and even produce children! The choices are yours! Enjoy gaining skills and creating powerful children who will also fight alongside you in your quest.maxresdefault

We look forward to letting you know what games we’ll get ahold of next! Till then, in case you were wondering what consoles we have games for…

Playstation 1, 2, 3 & 4 PSP

Xbox 1, 360 & One

Gamecube, Wii, 3DS & Wii U

Gensis & PC (prior to Steam)

Till next time, TL


The Mid-’90s Female Bildungsroman, Part 3 : “Clueless” and Supratextual Intertextuality

Every tumblr girl’s favorite cult film “Clueless” turns 21 years old this very week! Some ragin’ celebrations are in order, of course, but first and foremost, I’d like to raise a toast to the film’s writer/director Amy Heckerling, without whom we may never have uttered a single “whatever.” Much has been written about the enduring influence of “Clueless” on popular fashion and language (ranging from outfit listicles and .gif recaps to academic papers in film studies and linguistics)–rather than retread these stylistic grounds, I’d like to take a look at how these lasting influences turn “Clueless” into a locus for a supratextual* intertextuality†.

Now, of course, Heckerling isn’t the only author responsible for the genesis of “Clueless”; indeed, the film’s central conceit and characters are themselves reinterpretations from Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma, whose titular character shares the same affably scampish spirit of Heckerling’s Cher Horowitz (played by Alicia Silverstone). Austen wrote Emma as “a heroine whom no one but myself will much like” (see her memoir here); she wrote Emma for herself, for her own titillation, perhaps for a therapeutic literary companionship. The personal nature of this character creation evokes a sense of the autobiographical, a personification of the ego specific to Austen, or at the very least an idealized confidante or partner.

One-hundred and eighty years later, Heckerling picks up the thread of Emma through Cher and extends the same affection for Cher that Austen held towards Emma: though our protagonist may be ostensibly superficial, “Clueless” is entirely compassionate and demonstrative of Cher’s essential goodness. In developing Cher, Heckerling invokes not only Austen’s Emma, but her own Emma; Cher is constituted through the crossing paths of each author’s interpretation of Emma. And since Cher is borne from Emma–an entity that always already contained the constituting signifiers of Cher–when Austen created Emma, she also created Cher. So then both authors are continually in the process of creating both images of the Emma/Cher persona–this persona is not static but is instead continually constituted through her relationships with her authors and with the audience that simultaneously consumes and produces specific personal inflections of her. So when we see Cher, we see double: we see her, we see Emma, we see Heckerling, we see Austen, and we see ourself constituted within her, all done up in Fred Segal.

Beyond this constitution-via-reception, we also embody and deploy the multitudinous persona of Emma/Cher when we adopt the most salient of Cher’s sartorial and linguistic signifiers. Just as Heckerling reconstituted the Emma persona through Cher, when we send off a dismissive “As if!” or wear coordinating plaids, we reach back through Cher to Heckerling, through Emma to Austen, re-re-constituting the image of Emma/Cher by way of these non-textual “texts.” In this way, “Clueless” serves as an intertextual crossroads, whereby any number of casual watchers enter into a personal dialogue with one of English literature’s greatest figures. We are active participants in the present-day continual development of Austen’s and Heckerling’s protagonist–her bildungsroman becomes ours.


* As in, beyond a literal or narrative text proper. As discussed with “Party Girl,” clothing can serve as a sartorial text; similarly, neologism and slang can serve as a non-narrative linguistic text.

Intertextuality, as discussed by Julia Kristeva, acknowledges that any text does not exist as essentially separate but instead is an intersection of other texts, is not fixed in meaning but instead dialogic. All texts are inherently (at least) “double” in meaning by nature of their intertextuality.