7 Very Important Life Lessons Learned From “Clueless”

“Clueless,” that classic ode to female friendship and the power of a perfectly executed makeover montage, was released 20 years ago this week. I recently sat down in a park on a very hot day in Brooklyn and watched a screening of Amy Heckerling’s excellent film, which, two decades later, still stands up. Cher Horowitz, the big-hearted ditz with the burning desire to help others is still the best. Every scene that you remember being quotable and funny is still as sharp as it was the first time around. It’s a testament to the film’s strength that not a single peep has been uttered about putting it through the remake machine and churning out a piss-poor imitation. “Clueless” is sacred. To fuck with it is to fuck with the memories of an entire generation.

Watching the movie this week, I realized that Cher and her squad were doing all of us a huge service, one that we didn’t even realize was happening. “Clueless” is a movie full of quotable lines, dated fashions and a young Paul Rudd, but it’s also chock full of wisdom. If tasked with living your life only by the rules and lessons learned from this film, you’d be in pretty good shape.

1. Nothing in this world is more important than a ride or die.

The female friendship game in this movie is strong. Cher and Dionne have their differences and it would be weird if they didn’t, but the best thing about them is that they don’t front. If Cher’s being a pain in the ass, as she is wont do to do, Dionne isn’t afraid to call her out on her shit. Their bond is so tight that a knock-down, drag-out fight won’t be their undoing. The lessons learned from their disagreements simply make their friendship stronger. Keep these people close to your heart. They are your secret-keepers, your confidants and your most trusted allies. Hold tight.

2. A signature look is a fun thing to entertain.

Cher loves a short skirt, a knee high stocking, a mini-kilt, Alåia, Calvin Klein slip dresses and a very intense side-part. These are her Lewks. It’s not super important to have a signature look, but perhaps as you get on in years, consider it? Are you into sack dresses and Nike Frees? Are you done wearing pants? Do you want totransition into a strictly baseball jersey and ripped jeans aesthetic? Great! Do it. Own it. Live it.

3. Sometimes what you’re looking for is right in front of your face.

We spend a lot of time looking for answers and either willfully or honestly ignoring the fact that they’re hanging out in plain sight, right in front of our faces. This theory applies to car keys, that shirt you laid out yesterday and can’t find right now, or in some special cases, the stepbrother you always thought was kinda gross but is actually a young, pre-bloated Paul Rudd. Stop breaking your back looking so hard, and look at what you actually have. The shit you need is probably in your pocket, and has been all along.

4. Being new anywhere always sucks, but it gets better.

At some point, everyone experiences what it’s like to be the new kid. Unless you spend your entire life a hermit ensconced in your childhood home, treading the same paths you did as a child, you’re going to end up being new somewhere. Tai handled the burden of being new better than most. Under Cher’s wing, she grew into the little butterfly she was always meant to be. I’m not saying that to shake the mantle of newness you need to submit to a complete makeover that strips you of your entire identity, but if someone wants to show you the ropes, accept that help. Being new at anything sucks at first, but it doesn’t have to be horrible.

5. Meddle when necessary.

Normally, stay the fuck out of other people’s business. However, Cher and I share the same belief that it is okay to stir the pot a teensy bit when it comes to matchmaking. I don’t advocate for it in all cases, but blind dates have a sense of terror and excitement that’s hard to replicate anywhere else. A trusted friend who knows you really well can often suggest someone for you that you wouldn’t even think of for yourself. Case in point: Ms. Geist and Mr. Hall found each other via Cher and Di’s machinations. Be open to new experiences, fools. The worst thing that’ll happen is that you’ll hate it, but hey — at least you learned, right?

6. Everything is negotiable.

Cher’s down to negotiate for pretty much everything — better grades, getting a driver’s license, her curfew. Instead of accepting the pickle juice, she knows better. Learning to negotiate is crucial for what most consider a successful adulthood and will carry you far. Don’t be afraid to grab life by the nuts and go after what you want.

7. Date the stoner.

Cher turned her nose up at Travis because he was a perpetually tardy stoner with a penchant for Marvin the Martian and Egg McMuffins. I ask you — what’s so bad about that? He’s nice, he’s cute, he’s kind and lacks the judgey ickiness that colored most of Cher’s pre-revelation ‘tude. Don’t be superficial. People are people are people, whether they’re wearing Armani or a garbage bag. Look past appearances, and assess what’s inside. You are probably sleeping on something great.