Crazy celebrity behavior and our obsession with watching trainwrecks has been a 'thing' since as far back as , whose lack of control provided a unique attraction from which we couldn't turn away. And as Americans and Brits these days demand more access to celebrities' private lives and the distance between the stars and the audience becomes smaller and smaller, people want the personalized treatment; ultimately, we are pushing the stars to be at the center of their own narratives, because this both fascinates and satisfies in a way the controlled acting of their careers cannot.
At the center of this compulsion are not the s of Hollywood - whose years of substance abuse, arrests, rehab, and relapse were regarded as humanizing obstacles for the charismatic hero, the "loveable tornado", to overcome - no, at the center of this perverted limelight are teen girls destroying themselves; , , .
Bynes is a child actor who lost her way. Known once as a Nickelodeon star with a stance against the party scene, she's now identified with hit and runs, DUI charges, and even a night in the slammer. The girl went bonkers throwing bongs out of windows and tweeting to other celebs ("I want @drake to murder my vagina" and "@Rihanna Chris brown beat you because you're not pretty enough"). If you wrote a movie script of Bynes' life, people would protest "this is the most ridiculous thing I've ever read!" But, look! She's now legitimately standing in court with the worst blonde wig she could muster the strength to find.
The stress of stardom finally turned toxic for Britney, too. Nights out with dog-wielding socialite , two marriages which didn't make it past monday morning, rehab, and even a trip to the funny farm. The piece de resistance? Shaving her head and going bananas with an umbrella. But after a stint out of the spotlight and a conservatorship awarded to her parents, Britney appears to be back in control of her life, with a starring turn as American Idol judge and new, permanent show in Las Vegas. And now, with her life no longer resembling a disaster, the covers of People and Star just don't sell as well when she's on them.
Lindsay Lohan, now soaked in tarnished glamor like the others, started her career on a high note...and proceeded to stay high. She tried to escape the spotlight by getting turnt up, but that just secured the opposite. Now, the redhead's tabloid trials are more entertaining than most of her movies - which says as much about us as it does about her. She's barely been able to keep a steady job since it went pair-shaped - not to mention the car crash, the ankle monitor, the rehab, the assault, the numerous arrests, and the prison sentence. Lohan isn't just a trainwreck, she's a train that is constantly wrecking. She's turned into our doped up little sister whom we keep tabs on and hold out hope for.
Lohan's situation has gone from sad to funny and back again more times than I can remember. In her difficult moments, it seemed like no one was reaching out to her and offering her a path to reclaiming what she once had. What she once had, of course, was promise... Ten years ago, the young thesp, with movies behind her like Mean Girls, Freaky Friday and The Parent Trap, seemed set for greatness with an on-screen poise far beyond her years. But in fact, she wasn't ready to deal with the pressures of being so prominent, and now her public meltdown is in danger of lasting longer than her career.
So, can Lindsay heal and finally get her career back on track? Would she be readily be accepted back into the movie world like former substance abuser RDJ if she could somehow defeat her demons?
Following her latest stint in rehab, Lohan once again seems to be hell bent on rebuilding her life. Of course, there's no point in doing it if it isn't televised, so after earning approval for a straight-up TV interview back in April, the thesp will sit down with too, as E! Online puts it, "give the media mogul an in-depth interview about her time in rehab". What's more, she'll get her own eight-part docu-series chronicling her mission. The star of upcoming movie The Canyons also guest-hosted an August 5 stint on Chelsea Lately, where she "did a great job" and "greeted the roaring crowd with an ear-to-ear smile...". No one is denying the sheer scale of the task ahead of her, but can Lindsay do it? And will we care about her any longer if she does succeed?
Unfortunately, many things point to the fact that Lindsay might not fully recover from her troubled past. The red-headed, be-freckled thesp definitely has her fair share of deeply-rooted insecurity issues, as director once commented to the LA Times:
She didn't see herself as a pretty girl. She'd criticize herself. She wouldn't leave herself alone.
And that low self-esteem may or may not be attributed to Lohan's family life. Last October, the star was in the news for having a violent fight with her own "drug-addled mother", who has been criticized by Lindsay's father for standing by and watching as Lindsay destroys her life with drug abuse. Right, Mr. Lohan. That's almost disgusting as trying to kill a guy and getting pulled over and arrested for DUI on your way. Oh. Take a seat, sir.
Quite apart from her numerous personal problems, Lindsay has to regain the trust of movie producers before her career can truly get back on track, as it was circa 2004. And that might not be as easy as she hopes. The Parent Trap might still be one of the most adorable kids movies ever and surprisingly still entertaining to watch while hungover, but that doesn't guarantee smooth sailing for Lindsay now. Producers typically take out insurance to protect their investments in case key cast members cannot complete a movie for reasons like, say, being admitted to rehab:
Some film industry executives suggest Lohan may be difficult to insure or inordinately expensive to cover on future productions.
This isn't to say it can't be done: Robert Downey, Jr., after all, once seen as a risk not worth having on a movie set, is now viewed as a "strategic cost" for studios and the world's most bankable star. But there are personal and professional challenges ahead for Lindsay.
Still, this recovery period feels different to the failed attempts of Lohan's past. Her post-rehab court appearance just this month saw her lawyer talk to TMZ of "Lindsay 2.0" and take a genuinely positive attitude to the star's personal crusade. And although her latest movie The Canyons - written by American Psycho's and directed by Taxi Driver's - has been met with mixed reviews, there has also been a lot of positivity surrounding her performance alongside porn star . Variety gave her a glowing review, claiming the actress showed a "raw conviction" in her role, and that:
There's a little-girl-lost quality to the onetime Disney teen princess that's very affecting.
After months of eagerly awaiting an indication of what to expect from Schrader's new movie, the 1930s style trailer was released recently. In between erotic scenes and a lot of nudity, Lohan says, "I guess I'd like to keep some parts of my life private," to which Deen responds, "Nobody has a private life anymore." Oh, the irony. Maybe The Canyons will awaken a part of the old Lindsay and give the fallen starlet some motivation to stay clean.
And despite some criticism that describes Lohan's performance as part of the movie's kinky love triangle as "bland and unfocused", Lindsay has gotten people talking about something other than overdoses and skipping court: She's back in the news for her true passion - acting. She may embody a lesson as to just how messed up a Hollywood career can get, but letely we've seen the rarest of things in Lohan's recent career: positive headlines. Take a look at this for a glimmer of hope:
Letterman gets millions of dollars a year for this sort of below-the-belt prodding, while Lindsay pulls off classy and composed in a way that we haven't seen for a while; she kept her cool and her wits about her, she came across as earnest and genuinely moved by Letterman wishing her well.
As well as putting on a brave public front, this time around Lindsay is sorting out her personal life, too. TMZ is reporting the LiLo has vowed to ditch her "toxic friends and influences", now that she's out of rehab. While completing her 90-day court-ordered stint, the actress is said to have reflected on those whose company she keeps, and after showing lists of names to her closest friends, Lohan has apparently decided to say goodbye to 80 of the pals she considers too toxic to surround herself with. I wonder if is among them...
On my watch, Lohan's now on her fourth release from rehab, and she's made celebrating her release with a bottle of bubbly a bit of a regrettable ritual in the past. It's early days, but perhaps Lindsay has really started afresh this time and will be the actually-very-talented leading lady everyone always says she is - just after they've ripped her to shreds for being a mess. No Hollywood career is ever really over and Lindsay is certainly still young enough to turn hers around.
Whether or not post-recovery LiLo will be able to reignite her career is largely dependent on whether the actress has enough strength and sticking power to stay out of trouble and out of rehab. But it's clear that general interest in the star's personal affairs will remain at a Hollywood high. As consumers of celebrity gossip, we've invested in Lohan for over 20 years now; she's become part of our abstract obsession with Tinseltown and embodies a psychological attraction that we can't let go of. When she falls off the wagon, it reminds us that everyone suffers. And when she gets back up and again and dusts herself off, it reminds us that we too can become unsinkable.
Such obsession is clearly beyond a simple desire to be entertained; it is at worst pathological voyeurism and at best harmless escapism. Either way, LiLo is at the center of this psychological need we entertain and whether she stays on the straight and narrow or goes under, she'll be followed closely every step of the way - for better or for worse.