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Lindsay Lohan and Me

Lindsay Lohan Playboy CoverIt was reported today that the Oprah Winfrey Network will pay none other than Lindsay Lohan a very tidy $2MM in exchange for the coveted get of LiLo’s first post-rehab interview, as well the rights to produce and air the former child star’s 8-episode reality show.  The show, as yet to be titled, will document Lohan’s attempts to stay sober and resurrect her acting career.

This news got me thinking about a column I wrote entitled “Don’t Wanna End Up A Cartoon In A Cartoon Graveyard,” for the first website to ever let me write a column, Man I Love Films.  I wrote the column when photos of Lohan’s 2012 Playboy leaked online.  Since the fallen starlet is back in the news (yet again) and shooting for a comeback, I thought I’d take the opportunity to republish the column here.  All of the text is the same as when it was originally published; only the images are different.

Don’t Wanna End Up A Cartoon In A Cartoon Graveyard

So goes a lyric from the Paul Simon tune You Can Call Me Al, from his 1986 album, Graceland. The line before that?

I want a shot at redemption.

Don’t we all? Don’t we all want a chance to make good on something in our lives that maybe didn’t go as well as we had hoped? I’m not talking about righting wrongs; I’m talking about owning our wrongs but showing we can still do right.

Of course we want a shot at redemption. So does every person we know and every person we don’t know. All of us.

Even Lindsay Lohan.

Before she ends up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.

This week, the photos from Lohan’s upcoming pictorial in Playboy were leaked on the Internet (NSFW). If you haven’t yet seen them, and in case you would rather not look, I’ll tell you this: There is nothing good about them. Not even the shoes.

And this isn’t some anti-Playboy screed. I like the magazine for more than just the articles as much as the next guy does. Lohan just looks bad – like a shell of her former self. Like somebody who used to be somebody until things went wrong and now she’s just a used-to-be. A punch line. A caricature of her former self. A cartoon who is one toe-tag away from finding herself in a cartoon graveyard.

Lindsay Lohan Mean Girls Haircut LTBX

And the homage to Marilyn Monroe only makes it worse – like maybe if she were someone else, things would be better. They won’t be, but that’s okay. She doesn’t need to be someone else.

Lindsay Lohan was born in 1986, and after a few appearances on the television soap Another World at age 10, her path to fame, celebrity, and infamy was developed in the organization that has become the closest thing Hollywood has to a farm system: Disney.

Lohan struck it big starring in the 1998 Disney remake of the 1961 Disney film The Parent Trap, and from there she became the bright spot in a string of otherwise forgettable-to-mediocre TV and theatrical films. The 2004 non-Disney film, Mean Girls, was a true highlight (although surely its success was helped by the talents of screenwriter Tina Fey and producer Lorne Michaels, two people who know their way around comedy).

Lohan continued to receive positive reviews for supporting performances in 2006 for the smaller, more mature films A Prairie Home Companion and Bobby, but when her romcom starring vehicle Just My Luck (also 2006) flopped, her life spun out of control. This precipitous fall from grace has been painstakingly recorded by the celebrity historians at TMZ, and includes everything from her failed relationships to her dysfunctional family to her substance abuse to her arrests and rehabs and probations, and now this – the last bastion for female celebrity overexposure: Playboy.

Playboy Logo LTBX

Even reality TV is better than this. With better shoes, too.

How did Lohan get here? It would probably take an inordinate amount of effort to assemble that timeline, to see exactly when and where things got worse … and worse … and worse. But it’s safe to say that a lot of it had to do with the fact that the wrong people were telling her YES and the right people weren’t telling her NO, and the sycophants who surrounded her kept her shielded from any semblance of proper guidance.

But I think there is hope for her yet. Even though she appears to be at rock bottom, I think she can pull out of this. Maybe it’s because I’m the father of daughters and I have a soft spot in my heart for her. Maybe it’s because she has a foundation of talent upon which she can build (as opposed to some other downtrodden “celebrities” who are famous for nothing more than being famous). Or maybe it’s because I’ve seen this movie before and I know it can have a happy ending. It goes like this:

She was a child actor with talent, enormous potential, and an “it factor” that had her on the fast track to becoming a superstar. But as her popularity grew, so did the attention the media paid her, as well as her dependence on substances. She appeared in court, went to rehab, and, in what seemed to be the pinnacle of her rebelliousness and the nadir of her career, she posed naked in Playboy magazine.

Sound familiar? It’s not a description of Lindsay Lohan, it’s a description of Drew Barrymore.

Drew Barrymore LTBX

Whether you love or hate Barrymore, you cannot deny the success she has had: actress, producer, director, spokeswoman, and even Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Programme. Barrymore was once at Lohan-like depths, and she came out if it. There will be no cartoon graveyard for Barrymore.

And while one can argue that Barrymore’s lowlights were in the pre-TMZ era of Hollywood, I would argue that having the name “Barrymore,” the name of the First Family of Hollywood, carries much more pressure than a perp-walk through a stadium full of paparazzi ever could.

If there is one thing that Hollywood – and fans of Hollywood – love, it’s a comeback. We can ask Drew Barrymore. We can ask Robert Downey, Jr. We can ask anyone with a modicum of talent who lost their way but found it again.

Maybe someday, we can ask Lindsay Lohan, too.

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