Films: Clueless and feminism's Nietzsche

Hopkins, Susan ORCID: (2015) Films: Clueless and feminism's Nietzsche. Philosophy Now, 109 (Aug/Sept 2015). pp. 42-43. ISSN 0961-5970


The 1990s marked the ascendancy of postmodernism and poststructuralism across pop and politics as well as in academic theorising. This was a time when Madonna’s ‘blonde ambition’ pop was reinterpreted by third wave feminists as a political act; and when ‘clueless’ heroines in teen movies could reference everything from television infomercials to classic literature. Philosophy too, to some extent, was absorbed and repurposed by pop postmodernism. Pop culture frequently parodied earnest pseudo-intellectual types by, for example, portraying them reading Nietzsche. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is, after all, one of the best-known and most widely misappropriated of nineteenth century philosophers. A more surprising turn in 90s culture was the third wave feminist adoption of Nietzsche in political theorising. At first glance, Nietzsche seems an unlikely feminist. Concerning his attitude to women, he is better known for his infamous quip from Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1885): “Are you visiting women? Do not forget the whip!” However, Nietzsche’s quirky posthumous pop-ups in both pop culture and politics illustrate some of the interesting complexities and contradictions of our postmodern age. One scene in particular in the cult-classic teen comedy Clueless (1995) brings together the beautiful mess that was Nietzsche, femininity and feminism in the 1990s.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Open Access College (1 Jul 2013 - 7 Jun 2020)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Open Access College (1 Jul 2013 - 7 Jun 2020)
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2021 01:31
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2021 03:25
Uncontrolled Keywords: Clueless; teen comedy; philosophy; postmodernism; feminism; Nietzsche
Fields of Research (2008): 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2203 Philosophy > 220306 Feminist Theory
Fields of Research (2020): 50 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 5003 Philosophy > 500313 Philosophy of gender
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9502 Communication > 950204 The Media
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1302 Communication > 130204 The media

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