If you’re an avid Alicia Silverstone fan, you might remember her as Amy Heckerling’s creation in the movie Clueless, a movie I still know every line to. And it’s also the reason why whenever I hear “My Iron Lung” by Radiohead, I think of Marvin the Martian and red Kool-Aid. (It’s also the reason why I could go on and on…but will spare all of you, and get back on topic.) As I was saying, if you know your Silverstone facts, you probably love her beyond her Val girl role, and remember her as the chick from those Aerosmith music videos.
Before that came to be, Silverstone starred as that doe-eyed adolescent girl with the fixation for an older man in her parents’ guest house in The Crush… you know, that movie where a bees’ nest outside totally ruins that woman in the photo lab? This was around the time Steven Tyler and his people were like, “Let’s get this devilish teen with the pretty smile in our music videos.”
She starred in three of their videos as the blonde-hair-in-the-wind, combat boots and socks, floral dress wearing teen. Those videos, “Cryin'”, “Crazy”, and “Amazing” not only put her on the map, but made her a household name. She was like the mascot for Aerosmith, a band that was seeing some major airtime in the ’90s for their album Get a Grip, unlike many other glam rock bands of the ’70s that were struggling to modernize their classic tunes. Perhaps the most popular of the three videos was “Crazy”, which followed Silverstone and Steven Tyler’s daughter, Liv Tyler, on a wild, wild adventure. They ditch school, climb out of their school girl outfits, raid a convenient store, crash at a motel, go to a strip club, and steal a farm boy’s tractor.
The videos were synonymous with MTV pop culture. It was the early ’90s and music vids were all the rage. After this, she starred in another haunting film, much like The Crush, called The Babysitter…about a character much different than that mainstream brand of ’90s sex appeal that was heroin chic. People like Alicia Silverstone were standing next to actresses like Shannen Doherty in Mallrats or the Renee Zellweger of Empire Records. Not that they were all similar, but that they were female characters of the ’90s that were pretty…well, real.
This early ’90s stint gave us films and videos that created such an alluring cloud around Silverstone and the characters she played: seemingly innocent teen turned venus fly-trap, rebellious school girl with a need for speed, an oblivious fashionista representing new trends of the mid ’90s, and then unattainable girl-next-door. Then, she starred in a bunch of movies that didn’t matter. I will admit, I loved her 1999 film Blast From the Past, but her standout role will always be the Beverly Hills teen who breaks in her purple clogs, gets a C in Debate, gives Brittany Murphy a massive makeover, threatens to sue the high school’s P.E. system for their rickety tennis equipment, and makes a lap at a party before committing to a location. All of that, Betties and Baldwins, would not be without the genius eye of Amy Heckerling, the director behind Fast Times At Ridgemont High, who turned on MTV one day and saw someone with just the right amount of spunk and innocence, the type of actress who would go on to say “Hay-teen-ens” when pronouncing “Haitians” in her infamous classroom speech scene in Clueless. Alicia Silverstone was and always will be, the school girl betty of the ’90s.