The Thing About Clueless

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With Brittany Murphy on my mind, I fired up Clueless around midnight.I couldn't sleep, and figured that by the time I got to the "Rolling With The Homies" scene I'd be out. No dice. But one thing that always strikes me about Clueless is the seamless way they integrated black characters.

This comes up a lot when we talk about film, and think most of it comes down to the quality of the movie. Poorly drawn movies tend to depend on poorly drawn characters. And poorly drawn black characters almost always descend into stereotype and cartoon. Not that I'm an expert on Teen Movies, but I can't really think of another one--pre-Clueless--that had African-American kids in strong supporting roles, looking like we look, which is to say, like human beings.

Here's Siskel & Ebert offering their take back in the day.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

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