Tuesday, February 01, 2011

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.

By Professor Batty


Blogger Mary said...

Funny you should blog about this - this very topic has been on my mind. KFJC got a copy of Shoot the Pier's CD and I got a chance to play it on the air for the first time last Saturday. Shoot the Pier is a father and young teen daughter surf band. They also actually surf!! I love their stuff, but start with "Sunrise Girls" - Bill the dad told me by email that he had taken notes while Ellie was on the phone to use as a script.

So many girls this age lose their confidence, get depressed, and become paralyzed by self-consciousness. I sure hope that you are right that it is a trend.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

It is that 12 to 14 year old time span that seems to be the blossom of young womanhood. The self-expression of that age should never be surpressed.

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