Three Twixt Twelve and Twenty
Ethan and Joel Coen with Hailee Steinfeld on the set of True Grit
"When girls design their own clothes, write their own stories, produce their own music, movies and television, then the idea of girl culture will be a reality."
When I wrote that in regards to "Girl Culture" in 2005, I believed it was coming, but I couldn't tell exactly when. It may be here now. Last Saturday I saw a 13 year old girl, Hailee Steinfeld, star in the Coen Brother's latest film True Grit. The Coens' are possibly the finest technical directors working today, and are without a doubt masters of screenplay writing, so when Joel says of Hailee; "To have that kind of calm and confidence … it's a difficult combination to put together..." you can appreciate the feat she has accomplished. As great as Hailee's performance is, it is part of a greater whole- the Charles Portis novel, the Coen brothers considerable experience, and all of the cast and crew who make a film come into being. Interviews with cast members invariably mention how poised and prepared Hailee was, how she actually became the center of the film, and especially how she handled the demanding dialog with a perfect delivery.
In the case of the Icelandic duo Pascal Pinon, their self-produced album (done when they were 14) is an artistic step beyond, in that it was created without any outside input. Most of the songs were written by Jófriður Ákadóttir, who plays guitar and sings, with her twin sister Ásthildur harmonizing and playing keyboards. In interviews Jófriður comes across as a well-grounded, mature artist (and there aren't many of those in pop-music at any age!) At a time when I find myself hard pressed to find any new worthwhile music, these young women have put out a whole album of listenable, memorable and meaningful tunes. Jófriður is sixteen now- is she already too 'old?' (Not to worry- Pascal Pinon has another album in the can, recorded when they were 15!)
My third example of a girl-prodigy is Tavi Gevinson, who, at the age of fourteen, may well be the most popular style and fashion blogger (of any age) in the world. Starting when she was eleven, and completely on her own (her parents found out about her blog when she asked them for permission to be in a New York Times article!), Tavi has a perfect understanding of what a blog is. She alternates writing, images and videos in a most engaging way. She transmits the freshness of the world as seen through a young person's eyes. She also seems pretty well grounded, although the world of fashion is so fickle I hope she doesn't burn out or become jaded.
These three young women are exceptional, no doubt. But next year there will be more, and more after that, and as they all mature who knows what wonders they will produce? When world culture includes all these viewpoints, from almost all ages and both genders naturally, we'll all be the richer for it.