"A Way Normal Life for a Teenage Girl"

Curator's Note

The current issue of Cinema Journal includes an In Focus on Amy Heckerling’s 1995 film Clueless. The essays, by Ben Aslinger, Kyra Hunting, Jennifer O’Meara and Alice Leppert, consider the wide-ranging and long-lasting impact of the film from a variety of perspectives, and these authors have agreed to contribute to IMR this week in an extension of those pieces.

We were completing the Cinema Journal editorial process in early 2014 when Iggy Azalea released this video for “Fancy” (The New Classic). I’ve been interested in the Australian hip-hop artist since first seeing her video for “Work” in 2013; I was fascinated by Azalea’s concern with class and “authenticity,” paired with an apparent racial tone-deafness (which some believe to be outright ignorance).

The up-and-coming star’s past big-budget, cinematic music videos have referenced Las Vegas tropes, Toddlers & Tiaras and a loose interpretation of the idea of “Bollywood,” but “Fancy” is a verbatim homage to Clueless, which Azalea, born in 1990, “watched… over and over again growing up… I’m just always in that film.”

As several of us note in this issue of Cinema Journal, Heckerling’s stated goal with Clueless was to create something “relentlessly happy.” Azalea seems to defer to that intention here in collaborating with the much lighter-energy, English bubblegum-goth pop star Charli XCX.

While the video visually remakes several iconic scenes from the film (Cher’s speech, gym class, the party in Sun Valley) the tribute remains true to Azalea’s previous tendencies in her music videos – more of a “trying on” of a variety of genres and tropes than an in-depth commitment to any particular style. The video is, in many ways, strictly surface; the behind-the-scenes video notes the dedication to replicating 90s hair, makeup and fashion, while producers praise Azalea’s “seriousness” about the project – which they mark by her acquisition of the same high school and freeway used in the film. Meanwhile, the content of the song (standard Azalea Dirty South-influenced hip-hop swagger and party anthem) has nothing at all to do with the narrative of the film. Azalea herself is a fascinating figure of self-reinvention and “trying on,” restructuring her background and her rags-to-riches story depending on the narrative she wishes to emphasize in interviews.

While Azalea, at 23, is older than Alicia Silverstone was when she played Cher, this surface homage to Clueless is reminiscent of a child “playing” her favorite movie with a group of friends.


Melissa Lenos's picture

Updated to add, “boom.” Iggy

Updated to add, “boom.”

Iggy Azalea Tops Hot 100 With ‘Fancy,’ Matches Beatles’ Historic Mark



No one has reviewed this post… but you need to login to submit feedback