Shakespeare, the Movie: Popularizing the Plays on Film, TV, and Video

By Lynda E. Boose; Richard Burt | Go to book overview

1

TOTALLY CLUELESS?

Shakespeare goes Hollywood in the 1990s

Lynda E. Boose and Richard Burt

A short sequence in the 1995 summer film comedy Clueless (dir. Amy Heckerling) offers what might be considered a mini-allegory of Shakespeare's circulation within the popular culture of the 1990s. Based on Jane Austen's Emma, the film narrates the coming of age of “Cher, ” a Beverly Hills high school ingenue and media-savvy teen queen who reformulates the pleasures of discourse into side-by-side telephone conversations conducted on mobile telephones. In the manipulation of cultural capital as a means for asserting status, Cher (Alicia Silverstone) clinches her superiority inside of a contest that defines itself through Shakespeare. When her stepbrother's excessively Harvard girlfriend misattributes “to thine own self be true” to Hamlet and Cher corrects her, the girlfriend then rejects Cher's substitution of “that Polonius guy” and slams home her apparent victory with the smugly dismissive line, “I think I remember Hamlet accurately.” But Cher beats her, point, set, and match, with the rejoinder that while she, by comparison, may not know her Hamlet, she most certainly does know her Mel Gibson!

We begin with Clueless because it complicates present moves in cultural studies about Shakespeare. With its Los Angeles location and youth market for Shakespeare, Clueless offers an opportunity for certain kinds of questions. For openers, just who is its Shakespeare joke on-the girlfriend, Cher, or just whom? Just what is the high-status cultural currency here, and how does “Shakespeare” function as a sign? Does the fact that Cher knows Hamlet not via the presupposed Shakespearean original but only via Mel Gibson's role in Zeffirelli's movie signify her cultural illiteracy-or her literacy? Or does this exchange perhaps point us away from any presumptive original, be it Jane Austen's or Shakespeare's, and direct us instead toward a focus on just its mediating package, what might be called the Hollywoodization of Shakespeare in the 1990s? In a postmodern way that effectively mocks all the presumed distinctions between high and low culture, Clueless does not merely relocate high culture to a low site (Los Angeles): after all, this is Beverly Hills, not the Valley, and no one is more vigilant than Cher and her friends about maintaining standards and eschewing tastelessness. Instead, Clueless elaborates on films like L.A. Story (dir. Steve Martin, 1991) in which Steve Martin begins by reciting a speech in praise of L.A.

-8-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Shakespeare, the Movie: Popularizing the Plays on Film, TV, and Video
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Plates vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Totally Clueless? 8
  • Notes 20
  • 2 - Race-Ing Othello, Re-Engendering White-Out 23
  • Notes 41
  • 3 - War is Mud 45
  • 4 - Top of the World, Ma 67
  • Notes 78
  • 5 - Popularizing Shakespeare 80
  • Notes 93
  • 6 - Shakespeare Wallah and Colonial Specularity 95
  • Notes 102
  • 7 - Poetry in Motion 103
  • References 119
  • 8 - When Peter Met Orson 121
  • References 134
  • 9 - In Search of Nothing 135
  • References 146
  • Stage Performances of King Lear Cited 147
  • 10 - A Shrew for the Times 148
  • Films and Videos Discussed 168
  • 11 - Shakespeare in the Age of Post-Mechanical Reproduction 169
  • References 185
  • 12 - Grossly Gaping Viewers and Jonathan Miller's Othello 186
  • 13 - Age Cannot Wither Him 198
  • Notes 213
  • 14 - Asta Nielsen and the Mystery of Hamlet 215
  • References 224
  • 15 - The Family Tree Motel 225
  • References 239
  • 16 - The Love That Dare Not Speak Shakespeare's Name 240
  • References 267
  • Index 269
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 279

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.