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.