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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Commentary: The Saga of Lindsay Lohan

The year was 1997. I was eleven years old and spending a Saturday afternoon in my usual way. Catching up on neglected sleep, playing through Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the two-hundredth time, shooting some hoops in the driveway and reading my favorite pop culture magazines aimed at kids.

One such magazine was Disney Adventures. One of its featured articles of the month was an inside scoop on Disney's upcoming remake of The Parent Trap. Remakes were not as common in 1998 as they are today so it was kind of a big deal. The article included an interview with a pretty redhead girl almost exactly my age that had been casted in the lead role of the twins. She seemed genuinely excited to be involved with the project and had that aura about her that suggested she was going to be around for a long time. A year later, the film released. It was a commercial success and the young girl received lots of critical praise for her performance including a Young Artist award. The career of Lindsay Lohan had begun.

When Lindsay reached the age of eighteen, she had acted the lead for six feature length films and was a household name.

Just a few years later, her name became a punchline.

It's hard to believe that this sweet young girl grew up to be someone who nearly destroyed her own life via drugs and alcohol. On the other hand, when details of Lindsay's background began to surface in the media, maybe nobody should have been surprised.

I'm not a celebrity so I can't speak from experience, but I have no doubt that living amongst bright lights and paparazzi like how Lindsay has lived for half of her life has to be tough. Especially for someone as young as her. Being in the public eye can be extremely stressful at times. When this happens, one needs to draw support from something or someone in order to acquire some relief. Being around family is a common way to escape some personal troubles. Something tells me that Lindsay had no such luxury. Let's examine her parents.

Her father Michael has a long history of trouble with the law. He had been jailed for charges of Wall Street insider training. At his son's communion party, he was involved in a fistfight with his brother-in-law that landed him assault charges. And while those charges were pending, he was hit with a DUI arrest and then later he divorced his wife, Dina.

Speaking of Dina......isn't it a little strange that she is almost as big of a celebrity as her own daughter despite never acting in a movie before? She is like a running gag on a sketch comedy show...always popping up everywhere whether it's welcomed or not. For a while it seemed that with every Lindsay Lohan media appearance there was a Dina Lohan appearance where she was more than happy to share with the whole world how proud she was of her daughter's success. Dina, we have no doubt that you enjoy depositing those huge paychecks your daughter brings home for you every year. We also know that Lindsay's success has not been enough for you.

A short-lived reality television series titled Living Lohan debuted in 2008. I think many will agree with me that this was one of the worst shows to ever be aired on the E! network and that's saying a lot. The premise was basically watching Dina Lohan and one of her other daughters Ali seeking the same level of fame and spotlight that Lindsay had achieved. Lindsay did not make a single appearance for this series and I do not blame her one bit. Dina reminds me of a group of people that appeared on an episode of Maury Povitch's show with the theme "Quit Pushing Your Child To Be A Star". She was clearly playing a game and using her family to prolong her own time in the spotlight.

The saddest part was watching her deny it week after week. I remember watching one episode where she insisted (on camera of course) that she wants to raise her children as normal kids. Right. Because there is nothing more normal than having cameras follow them around all day and urging them at every opportunity to do something that makes them famous. Another episode showed Dina spending time on the Internet looking for gossip/opinion articles concerning Lindsay. When she saw something she didn't like, she made phone calls to anyone that would listen to say how she felt victimized by this kind of "cruelty." To be fair, I'm sure there was a lot of uncalled comments by insensitive people. Every celebrity gets that. But somehow I have a feeling that a lot of it was legit criticism that she didn't want to hear. As unlikely as this may be, I would love nothing more than Dina Lohan to read this blog because I have always wanted to give her a piece of my mind.

To put it simply....her parents have issues. And unfortunately for Lindsay, it appears that a lot of this immature behavior displayed by her parents have rubbed off on her. Lindsay has two DUIs on her record and tabloids linked her to a rumored scuffle with Hilary Duff. Like father like daughter. And Lindsay is not shy about the spotlight either. Always partying and hanging out with other notorious celebrities such as Paris Hilton. Like mother like daughter. At least Lindsay was smart enough to keep enough distance from Dina so that she didn't have to live in anyone's shadow. The sad part was that she had less people to depend on for support.

As of this writing, two days have passed since Lindsay began her ninety day jail sentence; the consequences of spending too much recreation time on drugs and booze; and then later avoiding second chances designed to help her learn discipline. Instead of counting their daughter's money and pushing the family in front of every camera in sight, Dina and Michael should have spent their time counseling Lindsay when she was clearly in distress. When her daughter's partying habits started to draw concern from the media, Dina just shrugged it off as if it was just normal child behavior. She never seems to neglect her family unless she has nothing to gain from it. Thanks to expensive lawyers, Lindsay had gotten herself out of so many slaps on the wrist that she was probably feeling invincible even up to her last time in court.

Do I feel sorry for Lindsay Lohan? Yes. Not because she doesn't deserve jail time, but because her peers and especially her parents have failed to teach Lindsay the sort of self-discipline that is needed to survive in this crazy world of ours. She had been told too many times the false philosophy that no publicity is bad publicity. She needed to take responsibility for her actions. She needed a wake-up call and it is such a shame that a jail sentence had to be that call. Perhaps all this time spent isolated in a cell will give her enough time to think about the decisions she had made and how to better prepare for the future.

On a personal note, you can color me surprised that I decided to spend time out of my day to talk about Lindsay Lohan. After all, it's not like she doesn't get enough attention from the media. There's a special strange connection regarding celebrity/fan relationships that is difficult to explain. For the longest time I have not been able to explain it but I think I've got it figured out now.

Let's say you visit a friend's house for a party one weekend. There are people you know and people you don't know that are visiting the house. One party guest that you have never met before takes the inititave to tell a hilarious story about one of his blind dates. The story is so memorable and so entertaining that it becomes engraved in your memory to be recalled later at another conversation. You never meet this wild party guest again so you fail to connect with him on a personal level. Nevertheless you will always remember him and you'll find yourself referring to him as the "blind date guy" or something to that effect when recalling the story to friends.

Now imagine that you are watching America's Most Wanted one evening. Low and behold....the blind date guy's mugshot is on the screen and the host is telling you to watch out for this man as he is a dangerous fugitive. You are shocked to find out that a person linked to you is now involved with something completely over his head. Never would you have predicted this to happen. You wonder how such a fun-loving guy (or so you thought) can become this sort of person and what could have possibly lead to it.

The point I'm trying to make here is that it is natural to care for individuals that you don't really know so long as there is a connection. Lindsay Lohan is like that person at the party telling that hilarious story. The person has left his/her mark on every guest sitting in that room and now they are all connected to him/her. Truth be told, Lindsay Lohan has entertained me at several points of my life, just like millions more that have watched her perform on their television screens. That is why the public is so fascinated by celebrities. They are human yet they are super-human in the eyes of their fans. When superhumans act human, it shakes up the image we create for them.

I truly wish you all the best, Lindsay. Assuming you end up serving the full sentence, these are going to be the toughest ninety days of your life. However, I have hope that this can also be the best thing to ever happen to you. It is okay to be vulnerable and human. It is not okay to avoid lessons that can be learned from vulnerability. I am so sorry that you were not given the attention needed to avoid this ditch you're currently stuck in. I don't know what it's like to be a celebrity but I do know what it's like to be depressed. My wish for you is to start enjoying life again without the booze. You're still young and have plenty more memorable movies to make and keep us entertained with until you're done. It's time to live up to what has been predicted since 1998; that Lindsay Lohan is here to stay.

And maybe we can get you smiling again just like how you were in that issue of Disney Adventures years ago.

Yeah, that's more like it.

1 comment:

  1. Right on, Ian. Her parents, especially her mother, need to back off and get out of her life for a while. She needs a mentor, one who is strong enough to tell her what she needs to hear and patient enough to stick by her through her recovery.