New Queens of Teen by Damon Trent, Spy, June 1997.
The twin figureheads of the teen invasion
are Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler,
both now safely twentyish, but still largely
no blame for our society's current
infatuation with girls of a certain age.
Tyler, perhaps, is the less interesting
of the two. Wth her come-hither overbite
and her major-league hardware, she would
probably have flourished in an earlier era,
perhaps as the Blushing Daughter in a
series of classic westerns. Torso crammed
into a simple homespun bodice, Liv could
have reinvented the art of bashfully
extracting bullets from trail-worn cowboys'
backsides or turning up with a loaf of
crusty bread as spoonfuls of soup were
being slurped through mustaches. It would
be great. Her reproving one-legged dad
could turn up every few minutes and
bustle her away.
Tyler, in short, is a woman. Or, more
precisely, she's a concise fleshly representation
of the last poignant seconds of
childhood before womanhood becomes a
mathematical fact. Her showcase vehicle,
Stealing Beauty, had her playing a
19-year-old who frantically manages to cram
in losing her virginity before the teenage
clock Strikes 20, all the while parading
her breasts-themselves achingly
suggestive of evanescent ripeness. Rather
than dazzle you with their nudity, Tyler's
breasts have mastered the craft of looking
like they're wearing clothes, a constricting
carbon-spandex blend into which, a
few critical seconds of maturation later,
they would have just failed to squeeze.
No, of the pair - Tyler and Silversotne
that is - it is Alicia who really carries
the torch of the modern superteen.
Literally the Jackie O. of the omigod
generation, Silversotne's role as Cher in Clueless
established her irretrievably as the
buck-stops-here arbiter of nail-polish-shade
disputes and bubble-blowing rule infractions.
Particularly famous for an endearing curl
of the lip, Silversotne apparently woke up
a lot of people to the legitimately
unsettling fart that just because someone is a
little on the young side, doesn't mean she
can't make you want her.
Yet in the wall-less cultural high
school that the teen invasion has enrolled
us all in, Tyler and Silversotne are the big
girls: catty and cliquish they lord it over
the rest of us, staking unquestioned
claim to the best seats in the cafeteria and
monopolizing the quarterbacks. They're
safely out of our league. The ones society
really has to keep its eye on are the little
girls, the 12 to 14 year olds, the Lolitas.