Monday, July 30, 2007

The Train Wreck That Is Lindsay Lohan

My friend Sarah have been having an ongoing debate about Lindsay Lohan. In fact, I think we have a standing bet that she will win an Oscar within the next 10 years. She votes hell yes, I vote hell no...she might get nominated (hell, anyone can snag a nomination) but she won't actually win. I think the stakes of this bet were $200,000.

The tragedy of this situation is that three years ago, Lindsay Lohan was one of the hottest actresses in the world, in many senses of the term. Mean Girls was a huge hit, she had hosted a legendary episode of Saturday Night Live, she could actually act and she was smoking hot. A friend of mine who shall remain nameless because he now has a wife and child was so enamored with the Lohan 2004 that he would've gladly committed a homicide for a night with her. Maybe a multiple homicide for an entire weekend at a bed and breakfast. Millions of men around the world had the same reaction, and millions of women were okay with this. You know how certain women get acclaimed as gorgeous yet others face a big backlash as "not that pretty," or "oh, she is so fake" from other women? It seems like there's a much higher percentage of backlash victims who are blond. My theory is that women are actually Green Lanterns and are affected by the colour yellow. Anyway, Lohan, had the vivacious redhead thing going, so she passed the quality test from women as well. The words young Ann-Margaret were tossed around, and for those of you who know Ann-Margaret just as Jack Lemmon's shagbag in Grumpy Old Men, she was pretty fit back in her prime.

So anyway, 2004 Lohan was on easy street. Then things went sour. She became a party girl. She started being involved in creepy rumours like a tryst with just-barely-old-enough-to-be-her-grandpa Bruce Willis. She hasn't made a good movie since 2004.* She's been in and out of rehab like an Amy Winehouse song. She released shitty pop albums. She's being chewed out publicly by William H. Macy for being unprofessional on the set (this is my favourite one....did he throw in an "Aw geez" for old time's sake?). She got all skinny, which is never good. 'Slender' is definitely attractive, but 'skinny' is definitely not. She got skinny enough that her breasts even departed her, which is like if Johnny Cash's substance abuse had cost him his voice. She's doing trashy nonsense like vowing to sleep with David Beckham now that he's in Los Angeles.

* = the one exception is A Prairie Home Companion, one of my favourite films of recent years. The caveat here is that it wasn't really a 'Lindsay Lohan' movie. She was merely one good but ultimately unimportant piece of a larger puzzle -- like Greg Myers on the 1992 Blue Jays. It didn't help that Lohan's scenes were almost all with Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin, and I'm sorry, there aren't many actors in the world who are good enough to hold your own in those circumstances. Lohan was clearly way out of her league.

Now, Sarah is still a big fan for a number of reasons. Her main debate points are..

a) Lohan is only 21, so it's not like she's washed up or over the hill
b) she's hardly the first star or even the first child star to run into drug and alcohol problems
c) the comeback is a classic Hollywood tale, and all it takes is one good role to get back on track
d) so she's trashy and a train wreck, so what? She's still stylish

These are all salient points. Were I a better poster, I'd come up with a point-by-point between Drew Barrymore and Lohan, with the only main difference being that Lindsay crammed Drew's life from ages nine to about 22 into three years. Drew Barrymore turned out just fine, and she was about as messed up as it got for a young age.

But here's my rejoinder: Lindsay doesn't seem terribly smart. Like, I don't expect brain surgery tips from Hollywood starlets, but perhaps more damaging than a lack of smarts is a lack of wit. Someone like, say, Drew Barrymore doesn't seem like the sharpest knife in the drawer, but at least he has some semblance of cleverness and self-deprecation about herself that I can appreciate. And she is sharp enough to run her own production company, so while I wouldn't want her on as a Millionaire lifeline, Drew doesn't deserve to be wearing a dunce cap.

Lohan, on the other hand, doesn't just act like a 21-year-old, she acts like a dense 21-year-old. Her PR people (who, by the way, need to update their resumes) should've pointed her in the career paths of Jessica Alba and Scarlett Johansson. Nobody thinks these two are particularly bright, and if you believe the tabloids, Scarlett has been banging her way through Hollywood for years. But those details are glossed over because the two carry themselves with an ounce of class. Lohan carries an ounce of cocaine in her purse. I think the big turning point for me didn't come with the DUI or anything, but rather than Tina Fey and Amy Poehler started openly mocking her on Weekend Update two years ago. I took that as the "ok, we've given up, you're on your own, Lindsay" moment from two women who had openly become public big sisters to Lohan since Mean Girls.

So whose side do you take in the debate? Has Lohan's plane hit the proverbial mountain, or is this merely a pit stop on her career arc? There's 200 grand riding on this. Or not. I really don't remember the details of this bet at all. This explains why my internet betting website collapsed.


Kyle said...

Does the nameless friend's name rhyme with "FEMA"?

I vote no, though you really should have made it "Best Actress" only, as they hand out Best Supporting trophies like they're candy these days...

RT Murphy said...

I think once the 'new gen' of teen movie stars firmly establishes itself, Lohan might start getting her act (mwah!) together and actually live up to her potential. As it stands, though, she's a product of her generation (and knowing Ms. Hilton) and will do 'what she want' as it is the case that 'you don't know her'.

Future, maybe, but now, no.

Mark P said...

My friend Mario made a brilliant response to this post on my MySpace page, so I'm reposting it here

"The comparison between Barrymore and Lohan is a good one, but you're leaving one very important factor out of the equation. Back in 1987 or so, when Barrymore was at the bottom of the shit heap and was pretty much blowing homeless dudes for crack, there was no such thing as "US Weekly" or "" or "Perez Hilton." There wasn't this massive subculture dedicated to celebrity gossip and fallen starlets and people who are famous (like Nicole Richie) just for being famous.

Back in 1987, Drew Barrymore was an embarassment. She had totally pissed her life away, she was a total gutter slut, and nobody in Hollywood would give her the time of day. She wasn't on the cover of magazines. She wasn't showing up in online gossip columns every day. And she sure as hell wasn't front page news if she went to jail for getting a DUI. Back in 1987, being a strung out washed up glory hole was a BAD thing. It made you LESS desirable as a celebrity. So that's why Drew came back. She came back and got clean because she had to come back. If she had stayed on the path she was on, she would have been one more forgotten tombstone at some Hollywood cemetery.

Now flash forward to 2007, and it's a totally different thing. The culture around celebrities and celebrity gossip is much different than it was twenty years ago. Because now you have these fan sites, and gossip magazines, and even legitimate TV shows that glorify people like Lindsey Lohan. They glorify the party girls. They glorify the Paris Hiltons. Nowadays, you become MORE of a celebrity if you make headlines for being drunk in public and making an ass of yourself. So you can't compare Drew Barrymore and Lindsay Lohan because their situations took place in two completely different environments.

If Lindsay Lohan had turned into a crack whore back in 1987, she would have had a whole team of advisors and spokespeople and friends who would have talked her back on the straight path, and gotten her the help she would have needed. But in 2007 that just doesn't happen. Nowadays Lindsay Lohan is an even bigger star because she's decided to piss her life away. She's managed to cross over from "actress" into "media celebrity." She has a whole team of magazines, and fan sites, and celebrity friends, who are enabling her and keeping her on the path that is making her more and more famous every day.

Has she done a great movie in the past few years? Has she done anything of any artistic value that would prove to the world why she's still a major celebrity? Of course not. You said it so yourself. The only reason Lindsay Lohan is still famous (and arguably more famous than ever) is because our celebrity gossip society eggs her on by giving her the spotlight she's always been dreaming of. It's the same reason Britney Spears is still famous, and it's the same reason Paris Hilton was ever famous in the first place. Lindsay Lohan isn't an actress anymore. She's a personality. And there's not a chance in hell she's ever winning on Oscar because (in 2007) going back to "actress" would be a massive career demotion.

This is a bet you cannot possibly lose."

s. nicole said...

e) she would be killer in bed. natural redhead, yo.
f) "it's like yeah, motherfucker, i'm fine"