“One Thing A Man Can Always Do”: Adapting Performative Masculinity in Clueless
Leeuwen, A.M. van
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Clueless, a 1995 US adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma, turned the 1815 classic into a fast-paced teen comedy, set in a high school in Beverly Hills. However, the film has managed to maintain many of Austen’s characters and plot lines, albeit in a different shape. These changes may be the result of the change in medium and setting, but others are caused by the fact that the film was made for an audience in the 1990s. To keep the plot logical and understandable for a contemporary audience, the film had to update certain elements. This makes the film fertile ground for a comparative analysis, in order to see the differences in perception between the early nineteenth and the late twentieth century. Especially interesting in the film is the way in which it has adapted the performance of masculinity by the male characters, since Clueless utilises various different strategies in order to create convincing characters in its new setting without abandoning the source. This thesis will therefore use close reading in order to analyse which decisions have been made with regard to the adaptation of masculinity, and show in which ways the film has managed to maintain a connection to Emma while at the same time producing a vastly different piece of media for a different audience.