Approximately one year ago, I wrote a post about Lindsay Lohan's downward spiral that included the line, "one wonders if we are more interested in her demise than in her potential recovery." Clearly, the answer to that question is yes.
When we were pulling old posts to put up on April Fool's Day, I stumbled across my Lohan post, and noted that it was "insanely depressing" that the post, with a few tweaks, could probably have run one year after it was written and nobody would even know the difference. The only real change, it seems, as far as the Lohan saga goes, is that this time around, people aren't necessarily concerned about her ability to get her career back on track as much as they're concerned about her ability to, you know, stay alive.
"Concerned," however, might not be the best word. It seems as though people aren't as worried about Lohan's fate as they are fascinated by it, or even resigned to it: rumors that the former movie star is "going to die," coupled with paparazzi shots of her falling down outside of clubs and reports of her being "totally out of it" at public functions all seem to fit the fallen child star narrative that we've seen lived out so many times before. The truth, I suspect, is that many people are actually hoping Lohan does die, or at least comes pretty fucking close, because that's the story that's going to sell. That's the story that allows her dirtbag father to position himself as a savior of sorts by holding press conferences to discuss his daughter's condition and present himself as a Jamie Spears-wannabe who seeks to save Lindsay from herself. That's the story that allows "sources" to go to TMZ and spill their "concerns" about Lohan's health and well-being. And that's the story I've tried to write around several times, because it is so sick, and so sad. But it has become so undeniable that I think it's something worth discussing.
Remember, if you will, that the celebrity industrial complex made close to 100 million dollars off of Britney Spears during her breakdown period, following her wherever she went and cashing in on her pink wig wearing, head-shaving, car window smashing behavior. Sure, some of these pictures were presented with a semi-serious "what will become of Britney!?" narrative, but the majority of them were simply documents of a pop star who had fallen, hard.
The same treatment was given to Corey Haim, who became a go-to source for "hilarious" washed-up child star antics; every "comeback" piece that spotlighted Haim, from his legendary E! True Hollywood Story to his reality show, The Two Coreys, was really just a means for the public to gawk at a fallen star and count their own blessings. Deep down, we may be rooting for a comeback, but what draws us in and keeps us watching is the trainwreck, and we have a very hard time looking away—until, of course, the trainwreck is cleared, and things return to normal. When's the last time you were fascinated by a picture of Britney Spears? Exactly.
We have been trained, in many ways, to seek out entertainment from the lives of strangers. There is always a disconnect between celebrities and the general public, in that a wall has been built that seemingly removes all sense of humanity from the subjects at hand; they have been processed in a way that allows us to view them from a cold and often strange distance. We're act as if we're not watching Lindsay Lohan, but that we're watching The Lindsay Lohan Show, and this episode happens to be a very, very dark one.
But Lindsay Lohan is not a character. She may be a cliche, in many ways, but she's still a 23-year-old woman who has been caught up in a system that is not exactly female-friendly, nor is it friendly to the children who move through its ranks. Her parents are the absolute embodiment of everything that is wrong with stage parents, and though she has "friends" voicing their concerns to the likes of TMZ, it doesn't appear that anyone is giving her direction in terms of perhaps avoiding night clubs and stepping back from Twitter for a bit. And yet even in writing this article, I am complicit in the Lindsay Lohan Bullshit Complex: all I know of Lohan's alleged troubles is what I see in pictures, what I hear in gossip items, and what can be put together from Lohan's past history of addictions. I don't know this girl at all. Being a "she needs help" supporter, in some ways, is just as false and cruel as being a "she'll be dead within the year" detractor. The truth is that we don't know the truth. We have the pieces, but nobody is going to put them together. Nobody is going to help this girl. Because even though we all think we already know the ending, we're all too busy watching to see what happens next.