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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.

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