Alright, look. I am not a kiss scene connoisseur. As much as I love a good rom-com binge, I cannot give you an in-depth breakdown of where “Clueless” stands in relation to other movies’ smooches. However, there are two things I can tell you:
The idea of a college-aged guy kissing his 16-year-old ex-stepsister is very, very weird (although I also want to remind everyone that Cher tells her father, “You were hardly even married to [Josh’s] mother and that was five years ago,” long before she develops feelings for Josh — the line is easy to forget, but does a lot of heavy lifting to establish that the pair never had a sibling-like relationship).
The kiss is a bit awkward. No way around that. But that’s a very good thing.
Now, if Paul Rudd’s agent wanted to use “Clueless,” a teen movie, to skyrocket the actor up to movie star status (or an eventual “Sexiest Man Alive” award), it wouldn’t hurt to position him as some suave heartthrob — at least in theory. After all, it’s easy to see how an agent might assume that teenage girls would be a teen rom-com’s biggest audience — and if they fell for the handsome male lead, they’d keep going to see his new movies.
That being said, if Josh had swooped in with a smooth kiss, the scene would’ve been far more uncomfortable. A suave, confident kiss necessitates past experience. Suddenly, Josh would seem more romantically experienced and the gulf between him and Cher would widen, making the whole thing way more disturbing. By that same token, the movie’s awkward kiss implied that Josh was relatively inexperienced. The playing field might not have been even, but the power imbalance wasn’t nearly as severe.