You see how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet.
That's the protagonist Cher explaining why she's still a virgin at age 16. It's the kind of thing you'd expect would alienate a lot of the teenage guys watching the movie, but I don't recall feeling a huge disappointment upon discovering that her character didn't put out (not that I recall cheering either). Not putting out is only a disqualifying liability in the eyes of the schmucks who get laid easily in high school; everyone but the top 1% of the male audience would have been satisfied just to date Alicia Silverstone, even if it meant signing a "no sex" contract.
I don't know what effect Cher's virginity had on the female viewers, but it is a relief to see a strong female lead who isn't either a slut, a bitch, an obnoxious gender warrior, or some combination thereof. And although superficially superficial, she shows a concern for the well-being of others and enjoys helping others, according to her talents (mostly at matchmaking). Her altruism is an enduring trait that will actually accomplish something on the small scale it's applied to. Contrast this with the transient poses of phoney-baloney "I care" celebrities:
Josh: We might get Marky Mark to plant a celebrity tree.
Cher: Oh how fabulous. Getting Marky Mark to take time from his busy pants-dropping schedule to plant trees.
The movie was a huge hit among adolescents, which is fortunate because White popular culture in 1995 was transitioning from grunge to skanky girl bands and solo singers. Hopefully Clueless served somewhat to convince girls that being a virgin didn't keep them from being cool, before the full onslaught of skankiness hit in the late '90s.
So okay, I don't want to be a traitor to my generation and all, but I don't get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair - ew - and cover it up with a backwards cap and like, we're expected to swoon? I don't think so!
She doesn't let the previous phase of White popular culture get off so easily either. Grunge didn't focus on identity politics or sexual liberation, which were making a huge resurgence in the early '90s, and I think grunge worked out nicely to the extent that it diffused or co-opted what could have easily become another late '60s all over again. It's true that grunge artists and their followers were self-absorbed slackers, but I'll take that as the lesser of two evils. (And because it wasn't so revolutionary, I think it's more likely that grungies have grown out of that phase in comparison to hippies.) Unfortunately, though, slovenliness was not confined just to Beavis and Butthead wannabes, but was in full force as well in the early gangsta rap phenomenon, and in the later "sporty look" that made it cool to look like you just came from the gym (itself recycled from the '80s).
It's a sign of a diseased culture when girls tolerate guys who make zero effort to impress them, and the quasi-hippies of the early '90s really were the White version of slobs from the ghetto who felt like "keepin' it real" by not holding down a job / working for The Man. It's amazing to see that most guys, even in affluent metro areas, still refuse to put much effort into their personal appearance. Any large metro area has places like Filene's Basement, Century 21 (only in New York), among others, that offer suitable attire at affordable prices. So it won't do to say that it's too expensive to dress nicely.
I remember before I started to put any effort into how I look, and I was probably not the only one to think that an overly casual style was intended to show my disdain for conformity, snobbishness, and so on. Four years later, I now realize that that was all a load of horseshit. The current trend of uber-casualness is just as rigid in demanding conformity as Wall Street banks must be of their employees -- it says, "Wear anything more formal than a polo shirt or an untucked, striped shirt, and we'll snicker at you until you relent." And forget wearing a tie! At my tutoring center, most of the compliments I've gotten have been about my ties, blazers, glasses, and the occasional patterned dress shirt (not striped). Granted, this is coming from teenagers, but it just goes to show that girls wish that guys would dress better.
Finally, only someone with the most unjustifiably inflated view of himself would shout to everyone else, "I'm too cool to have to impress you!" Well, you'll excuse me if I don't take your word for it and instead look up your name in any list of eminent artists, scientists, or whatever you are. Typically these are brats sponging off of their trust fund rather than doing anything useful -- y'know, aside from upping the hip factor of some blighted nabe in Brooklyn with their store that offers custom, ironic shoe-creations. Like, maybe they remove the canvas uppers from your Chuck Taylors and replace them with flexible metal sheets cut from an A-Team lunchbox. What would the world do without them?!
Again, I'm not trying to be too harsh on slobs, since I was one too. Some of them could clean up well if they bothered. What gets under my skin is their disdain for doing well in anything outside of their narrow pet interests. This goes for one's living space as well: the losers profiled in this NYT article have no right to act like they're above maintaining a nice apartment or house. We rightly excuse a lot of this behavior when the person is a genius, since it might stifle their creativity -- or not, but why take the risk when it's just one person? Still, it cheapens that word to apply it to someone who is merely "pretty good at their occupation." Once you're awarded the Nobel Prize, then you can dress like a slob if you choose. Until then, grow up.
In retrospect, that's part of what makes Clueless so refreshing: it deflated a lot of the self-absorption of those perpetually adolescent Boomers (who were roughly 40-45 when it came out), while not coming off as fussy and prissy. Indeed, it was one of the defining cool movies of the time, starring two stunningly beautiful girls (and a third who would later become a knockout), so it was impossible to try to deride its moral message and yet appear young ("still got it") at the same time. I was relieved that Cher didn't end up with a scumbag, even though that wasn't true to reality in 1995 -- but it's meant as advice for how girls like Cher ought to act, not how they really do act. And this isn't one of those "fighting against gravity" scenarios, since male-female power dynamics change pretty noticeably over short time scales. In sum, this more prescriptive movie would make a fine complement to more realistic and jaded movies like Heathers or Mean Girls in order to guide young guys and girls to where they need to go.