Winona Ryder: Headline-Stealer
Before California v. Ryder, there may have been a few thirty-something Gen-X holdouts still clinging to the nostalgia of their slacker salad days in the '90s. Back then the air of Seattle was saturated with the aroma of dark-roasted coffee, grunge was the rock flavor du jour, and Winona Ryder, an actress as fawnlike as previous generational icons Audrey Hepburn or Mia Farrow, was starring in such cool Xer hits as Reality Bites. Boy, does it ever. As of Oct. 24, Starbucks had become the McDonald's of caffeine, Kurt Cobain was long dead—and Ryder was on trial for shoplifting. Despite being able to haul in around $5 million a film, the 31-year-old actress stood accused of walking into the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue on Dec. 12, 2001, and trying to make off with $5,560.40 in merchandise, including a Gucci dress, a Marc Jacobs top, a Dolce & Gabbana bag, a rhinestone hair band and seven pairs of designer socks. Although in the months after her arrest she kept a Gen-Xer's curled upper lip—doing the hip-ironic thing by appearing on the cover of W in a "Free Winona" T-shirt—she had effectively discounted herself into that bargain basement of baffling dysfunctional stars. Proof? On Halloween people dressed up as her. Instead of taking the stand in her seven-day trial, Ryder made her statement through fashion, arriving for court in a parade of demure outfits. Her attorney argued that a woman of such taste would never steal that headband, but the jury didn't buy it. Her offense, punished with a sentence of 480 hours of community service, probably is too trivial to seriously damage her career. And if she has lost her old cool, maybe she can face the future with a different kind of allure, deeper and more mature.
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