Like So Many Pop Culture Moments From the 90s, “As If” Was Grafted From the Gays

Upon reviewing the recently released list of Hollywood’s 100 Favorite Movie Quotes, it’s clear that Clueless is the only representative of “the youth” on the list (there ain’t another “teen movie” to be found), and, as such, director Amy Heckerling’s explanation of the classic catch phrase, “As if!” indicates just how influential gay men have always been in the collective conscious–even during a time of Clinton’s infamous “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Because where did Heckerling derive this line from but “the gay community and…thought it was really a multiuseful, multipurpose word… [that] it would be a good thing for teenagers to be saying.” And said it they did, along with about every other line from the movie (which might just as easily have gotten a few more nods on the list the way Casablanca and Jerry Maguire did).

So what does this say about most of 90s culture? Well, let’s look at some other popular elements mined from those of a non-hetero bent: Vogueing, as shown by Madonna and Paris Is Burning, drag queen insistence on “werking,” as created by RuPaul’s “Supermodel,” the entire aesthetic of the “Groove Is In The Heart” video and bringing AIDS to the Oscars with Philadelphia (a film, incidentally, with no lines that made it onto the same list as “As if”). In the wake of the Reagans’ conservative 80s, the flash and “jazz” of gaydom was permitted to saturate the media in a way that it never had before–just look at The Birdcage. Still, Heckerling knew better perhaps than to let her teen audience in on that fact at the time. After all, a large percentage of ticket buyers for Clueless were kids from the suburbs–a place that had a palpable ban on any “color” “penetrating” its area. But, now, at long last, the gays are, as usual, vindicated, showing that there is no pop culture without gay culture.