Instead of ending the year with a slew of Best Of lists, BlackBook asked our contributors to share the most important moments in art, music, film, television, and fashion that took place in 2012. Here, Jennifer Wright details her love for this year’s brightest burning star: Lindsay Lohan.
It’s hard to write about Lindsay Lohan.
Not because she’s not interesting. She’s interesting in the way only a true star can be interesting.
The thing that makes writing anything about Lindsay Lohan nearly impossible is that, by press time, she will have at least three more things no one could possibly have predicted. She seems to live in a wonderland where she can do six impossible things before breakfast. Just a few weeks ago, Lindsay supposedly punched a psychic in the face over a weird dispute involving a member of a boy band. I cannot imagine what she’ll do this week. But I know it will be bizarre, and I know I will turn my attention to her for at least a moment, because Lindsay Lohan was honestly the only truly fascinating star to watch in 2012.
Do you know what happens when you Google “Reese Witherspoon last week?” Or “Kirsten Dunst last week?” Nothing. Just like us! Oh, well, a bit. They were working on some projects. They had relationships. Maybe if it’s a crazy week they were dieting, probably for a project.
Most people’s lives, even if they are famous people, at their apex of oddity, are about as interesting as a very slowly paced sitcom. Not Lindsay Lohan’s. Lindsay Lohan seems to have found her way to make her life mirror a soap opera that would almost certainly be canceled for being too outrageous.
That much decried, comically melodramatic scene in Lohan’s recent Lifetime Elizabeth Taylor Biopic Liz & Dick wherein Lindsay screams “I can’t live without you!” and then runs down the hallway, grabs a bottle of pills, gobbles them down like M&Ms, and then flings herself onto the bed? I do not think that scene seemed like melodrama to Lindsay Lohan. I think that seemed like “Tuesday.”
And that—not because she gave a decent performance in Mean Girls, though I know we cling to that as an explanation—is why Lindsay Lohan is an object of national obsession. She could very well have given that Mean Girls performance, and, if her private life had not been insane, she would likely be just another semi-remembered teen idol. You can turn to anyone in a room and say, “How about Lindsay Lohan?” They will probably have something to say. She will make them sad. She will make them angry. She will make them jealous. Try doing that with Rachel McAdams. People will say she has nice hair and wonder why you’re asking.
Lindsay is fascinating for negative reasons, of course, but the definition of a fascinating person may be one going through experiences most of us can barely imagine. Those experiences—outrageous bar fights! Theft! Fiery brawls with lovers!—might not be ones we’d want to experience. But surely someone is supposed to experience them, the way someone is supposed to walk on the moon, or explore the depths of the ocean.
While every other star seems to be getting photographers from US to take “candid” shots of them helping out at soup kitchens and loudly proclaiming that they are “just like us,” and, really, generally behaving just like us… Well, Lindsay Lohan has no apparent interest at all in being just like us. Or perhaps circumstances conspire against her being like us. Either way, if you put her picture next to the vast morass of humanity, you could play “one of these things is not like the other.”
Just look at her 2012.
A brief rundown: in 2012, Lindsay Lohan posed for Playboy. She hit someone with her car. She found out she had a secret half-sister. She punched that psychic. She sold her own clothes for cash. She was given $100,000 by Charlie Sheen. She was on Saturday Night Live. She slept with Terry Richardson. She was on Glee. She got into a fight in a limo with her mother, who she claimed was on a lot of cocaine, and her father told her the limo driver was kidnapping her. She was almost strangled by a congressional aide.
These are the things I remember off the top of my head.
Other things almost certainly happened at the rate of about one a week. And isn’t any one of them more interesting than the stories we read about nearly anyone else?
Because, if we’re honest, there’s almost nothing less interesting than the endless articles about how stars are keeping their marriages spicy and raising great kids while watching their weight. Honestly, I don’t care I don’t care about how they’re doing that, unless their secret is living on kale and human blood, and even then, I don’t care about the kale.
Meanwhile, I would buy a whole magazine entitled What Lindsay Lohan Did This Week.
Like Addison Dewitt of All About Eve, I have absolutely no interest in stars being just like us, given that, as he points out, “their greatest attraction to the publicis their complete lack ofresemblance to normal human beings.” Stars aren’t stars because they’re just like us. They’re stars because they are vastly removed from us, burning brightly and briefly somewhere out in the ether, not at all subject to the rules that govern mortal man.
And for most of, well, the history of movie stars, this was understood. Gloria Swanson had her toilet made out gold. Charlie Chaplin ran off with a 16-year-old girl. Loretta Young supposedly had a secret baby that she covered up and then “adopted.” Montgomery Clift was so into drugs and alcohol that in The Judgement At Nuremberg he had to ad lib all his lines. Elizabeth Taylor, who Lindsay Lohan played with around three different kind of accents, had so many personal scandals that it is too difficult to pick just one.
It seems impossible to say whether those scandalous, unusual elements of their lives occur because they’re famous (Marlon Brando claimed that, at the height of his fame, he couldn’t open a door if he wanted to—they were all opened for him, which says something), but they do occur.
All of this madness provides the rest of us out in the dark watching with a sense of envy, but also a sense of pride in our own decisions. We envy Lindsay Lohan, and all the really brightly burning stars with lives unlike our own, because we wish we could get away with things the way they do. I wish I could crash cars and emerge unscathed and suffer no real consequences (time after time after time). A great part of the interest in Lindsay Lohan—at least my interest in her—is that in addition to seeming reckless she seems somehow, well, wreck-less.
A few weeks ago, the Twitter account “God” tweeted that “the human race is so busy reading about Lindsay Lohan it doesn’t realize it IS Lindsay Lohan.” A great sentiment, but entirely untrue. Most of us wouldn’t survive acting like Lindsay Lohan for a month, let alone a lifetime. At the very least, we’d be in jail. But really, we’d probably be dead.
Yet, Lindsay continues to make films, and recently, during an interview detailed in The New Inquiry, she told a reporter that her goal is “to work with Oliver Stone. And I’m gonna do whatever I have to do to get it.”
I read it and thought, “Well, she might.”
Lindsay Lohan was arrested because she ran someone down in her car this year. And yet, the idea of her working with Oliver Stone still doesn’t seem entirely outside the realm of possibility.
That is not what it is to be human. To be human is to be bound by rules. That is what it is to be some kind of Greek God.
While the idea of a life without rules might fascinate us, we also know that none of this is very good for Lindsay Lohan. We know that we will probably live longer and have happier relationships. We know that, because we know that living without rules and repercussions, and burning at such a dazzling rate is synonymous with self-immolation.
No one actually wants Lindsay Lohan to die.
At best, probably, she will fade into a minor sort of obscurity, periodically popping up for roles in made for TV dramas and otherwise living somewhat quietly. That would be good for Lindsay Lohan, but, God, we’d miss her exploits. Because know that, like Edna Saint Vincent Millay, if she continues burning away at her current pace Lindsay may not last the night. Still, while she burns, she gives a hell of a light.
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