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The Lindsay Lohan Labyrinth

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I wasn’t planning to write anything about Lindsay Lohan today (or any other day for that matter). I only know who she is through my four year old daughter, and Lindsay seemed to be like any other child star in whom my daughter shows an interest. Unfortunately, this morning I picked up the local paper and there was a surprising photograph and story about Lindsay’s upcoming interview in Vanity Fair.

I glanced at the story briefly but could not stop looking at the picture, which to say the least, was very provocative. I had not realized that this girl was so grown up. I knew she had battled eating disorders or whatever from overhearing reports on the news, but that was about it. Judging from the photograph, she seems to have bounced back and appears rather healthy for the most part.

It just so happens that last night my daughter (4 years old) and I watched the movie Life Size (2000) on the Disney Channel. This stars Lindsay as Casey, an 8th grader who has lost her mother, and Jere Burns as her widowed father Ben. They aren’t doing so well after her mother’s passing away, and somehow or other Casey manages to cast a spell that brings her Barbie-like Eve doll to life. Eve (played by a lovely Tyra Banks) is forced to see the world from a real perspective, something very different than the plasticine perfection she has known; predictably, Casey learns more about life and friendship from this life-size doll than she could have ever imagined.

While the movie is short on probability, it certainly showcases the young Lindsay’s talents. My daughter was riveted to this story, in part due to her fascination with the dolls she currently owns and their similarity to the Eve doll/person. I also think she (as so many little girls obviously do) really identified with Lindsay’s Casey, who wants to be popular and wants to be happy and desperately wants her mommy back (which is why she somehow changes Eve into a living thing in the first place). Lindsay can laugh, emote, throw a mean football, and cry on cue better than any other kid actress around (at least it seems to me).

So you can imagine my surprise this morning when I saw what the current version of Lindsay looks like. The picture, while certainly showing an alluring young woman, also depicts someone who seems inherently sad. I saw in her face (particularly her eyes) that all that brimming vivacity from the movie was gone. What had happened to this freckled face child? How did she go from such a shining star to this? Perhaps I’m the only man who was looking at her face rather than the rest of her today, but it was the expression of almost despair that bothered me so much.

I suppose you might start understanding what I am worried about here. My daughter likes Lindsay, and she has been watching her movies and no doubt will continue to want to watch them. I have only seen this and two other movies starring Ms. Lohan: The Parent Trap (1998) and Get a Clue (2002). Having watched them with my daughter, I could see she really appreciated what this girl was doing, but this is now 2006 and that Lindsay is gone. The newspaper article indicated that Lindsay is 19, and of course that means technically she is no longer a child, but how her evolution as a celebrity and actress has brought her to this moment in time doesn’t concern me as much as what my daughter will think of it.

I’ll give you an example. My thirteen year old niece sort of grew up with Britney Spears. I recall getting her Britney’s first album for her birthday (I don’t even remember how many years ago that is now). All I know is she wanted it and she got it. Now, we know what has happened to Ms. Spears (gone from virgin teen queen to mommy in what seems like a very short span). Over the holidays I asked my niece if she still likes Britney, and she says that “she’s so long over.”

“Okay, so who do you like now,” I asked.

Not missing a beat, she replied, “Eminem and Mariah Carey.”

Did things go from bad to worse here? I thought, but said nothing. This morning on my way to work I thought about all these things, and I understood that the Lindsay Lohan Labyrinth is not such a puzzle after all. How did she get this way? She grew up. I can remember my mother looking at a picture I had of John Lennon when I was a teenager (he had long, long hair, a beard, and was wearing a black hat) and asking, “Who is that?”

I answered, “That’s John Lennon.”

“You mean the Beatle? My God, what happened to him?”

Yes, it is as old as rock and roll and film and everything else. Stars begin shining, sometimes early on, and they can radiate and then start to alter right before our very eyes, and sometimes even explode (think Elvis, Kurt Cobain, John Belushi). Entertainers are what we want them to be because they in essence become what we want them to be; then, usually after some success, they become maybe something of what they want to be. Oftentimes this causes them more distress than us; however, we must understand that it happens and deal with it.

I don’t know if my daughter would even recognize Lindsay in her current incarnation. I recently showed her a picture of another star all grown up (actually two stars: Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen). My daughter watches reruns of the show Full House on cable and knows little Michelle as she was, not as Mary Kate and Ashley are. She didn’t believe me at first, but after a while she accepted the significant change in their appearance (and even the fact that there were two of them playing one child).

I am not sure where Lindsay Lohan is going. She seemed to have a mega-talent in those older movies. I wish her the best and hope she has a long career and finds happiness; after all, she’s like a daughter that has grown up before my eyes. Now, I will have to deal with that and hope my own child doesn’t grow up too quickly.

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charlie Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.
  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    You mentioned a sad look on her face. I agree, and it makes me very sad ans I think about the future my two daughters face in life.

    But then, I’m not above linking to a website I recently found called Lindsay Lohan doesn’t change facial expression, which documents at least eight variations on a vacuous theme.

  • Bliffle

    That’s what happens. Enjoy your daughters while you may. Too soon they will be grown and gone. In the meanwhile they will learn to denounce you, but this gives you a chance to learn how to Roll With The Punches, a skill that will become your most valuable personal psychological asset. If you are lucky they will give you grandchildren, whom they will persistently underestimate, and who will Make It All Worthwhile. Shhhh: keep it a secret, lest someone contrive to disappoint you.

    Remember all those snapshots you made of your happy children jumping, running, dancing, smiling and laughing? In the forests, at the beaches, in the living room? Sleeping happily in the back of the car on the way back from the lake when you carried them dreaming safely in your arms to their own beds while they dozed with their little arms around your neck? Scan them all in and post them on the internet. Where anyone who knows their names can easily find them. Like boyfriends, husbands, growing children. When they protest, claim they are just for yourself to remember whereever you are. Claim to be too dumb to make them private. Offer them the password, the website ownership, a new computer, whatever they need to change them to a private access. It helps to cry. You may even get a look of recognition and intimacy from a boyfriend or husband who has discovered that His Beloveds father is not as bad as he was told. That the poor girls childhood was not as terrible as he thought. It could happen to you.

  • http://wisdomandmurder.blogspot.com Lisa McKay

    What I find particularly sad are the types of role models that young girls choose – vacuous pop stars who trade more on sex appeal than actual talent. One hears too many stories about smart girls who go to great lengths to hide their brainpower in school because it’s not considered to be an attractive trait.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    oohhhh, brainy girls sexy, me like; stupidity is always ugly, even in a pretty package.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Thanks to all for the comments. I know I wrote this thinking about my own daughter the whole time. Once in a while you think, “When am I going to start losing her?” I think Bliffle has a good answer for that. Thanks!

  • Vern Halen

    There’s a lot of personal sadness in this thread – too heavy for Blogcritics. It makes all the stuff about the war & politics and free speech and church and state and the nature of art seem trivial. Thanx for the nudge back into reality.