Politics isn’t just about government. It’s also about how we function as a society – who we lift up, who we tear down, and for what reasons. These collective impulses certainly shape our legislation, but they also shape our lives in more insidious ways that have nothing to do with “politics.” With that in mind, please consider the case of actress Lindsay Lohan.
On April 5, a homemade video collage of Lohan was uploaded to YouTube. Since then, it has garnered nearly 7 million hits. Created by an anonymous user, the video morphs together dozens of still photographs of Lohan’s face in chronological order from infancy to present day. The 25-year-old Lohan looks closer to 45 in the most recent pictures. While her well-documented problems with alcohol and substance abuse certainly contributed to her metamorphosis, the video is not really about substance abuse. It’s about fame and what happens to people who receive it before they can process it. Here are the results – in 75 seconds:
What a uniquely harrowing film. In just over one minute, we see the deep, devastating effects of our obsession with celebrities. Lohan is a unique case because she literally grew up in the public eye. Her first big role – in 1998’s“The Parent Trap” – came when she was just 12. She has been famous ever since. And it’s not the kind of fame that is earned. She’s not Stephen Hawking. She’s not even Stephen King. She is an attractive and charismatic young actress that a lot of young guys would like to sleep with. In recent years, she has made more headlines by posing for men’s magazines like Playboy than for her acting. How does a child or young adult handle such praise just for existing?
She reminds me a lot of Truman Burbank from “The Truman Show,” a man who grew up in a false world built just for him. But none of it was actually for him – it was for the millions of people watching. When he found out the truth of his existence, they tried to convince him that the world created for him was better than the real world. But is that the truth? Lindsay Lohan can get into any restaurant or club she wants. She has fashion designers throwing free clothes at her. She has no problem getting a date. But none of these things are actually for her – they are to improve the situation of the person or organization on the other end of that transaction. And that’s got to feel shitty.
The saddest thing of all is that, years from now, when I think of Lindsay Lohan, the movie I will remember her for won’t be “Mean Girls” or “The Parent Trap” or “A Prairie Home Companion,” all of which she was actually pretty good in. Instead, I will remember this 75-second reminder that in our modern society, when we lift people up for our society to celebrate, more often than not we are actually tearing them down.