The public in its infinite judgmental prurience loves to symbolically burn witches at the stake via their tabloids, and if you don't count bimbos like Nicole or Paris or Britney as being really "in the game" as far as stretching the boundaries of public eye debauchery to crucifixion-ready levels (and you shouldn't) then that leaves just one knife-wielding bi-sexual hot mess incarnate to drool fire over, Lindsay Lohan. She's a lot of things, but nobody's bimbo... now.
I don't need to regale you with what she's been up to. How can you not know? It's all over the place, it infects and informs our entire tele-cine-visual-trasho-wunderland! So then, what's the deal? Is she gonna go to jail? Or is it all just a fantastic wonderful show? Even if it's real, what is reality, anyway? Beautiful starlets like Frances Farmer (above) getting the rough treatment from a brutally repressive patriarchy that punishes beautiful, brilliant women when they get out of line, that's sure real enough. But can even that be made into kind of a show, like pro-wrestling?
If you go back in time even earlier you have the famous feud between Fred Allen and Jack Benny, or WC Fields and Charlie McCarthy -- fights that basically provided writers with material and made great press and headlines, and no one ever thought they really were going to kill each other or anything. Then Take Mr. Fields' drinking. Since he was old and a man it became a source of much comical merriment his booze problem found a home in the cultural canon. Lindsay's drunkenness has no place in that context, because why? She was once a Disney girl? Oh come on!
Before you judge, try hanging out with those kids sober, see how long you hold out. Have we become even more repressive a society than we were in the 1930's, when Mae West was banned from radio for daring to play Eve in a saucy Adam and Eve sketch? The man who wrote the sketch, Arch Obler, wasn't banned, he was later praised for his show Light's Out, and even then was one of the first to regularly get on air credit for his work.
What's the difference between a middle-aged mom of five getting all schadenfreude excited over reading Lindsay might serve jail time vs. say, Ken Starr making Monica Lewinsky describe every hand motion she makes during fellatio or the hysteria of Salem and the early 1980s that led to my great x 8 aunt Mary Easty being hung as a witch? Is this not just a macro-version of the bratty sister who can't wait to tell mom how you got in trouble at school? Are we a nation of tattle-tales?
My friends, why not stop projecting your inner worm squirm guilt and fear and desire onto brave little Lindsay and just grab that vodka bottle out of your husband's or parents' cabinet and down a huge shot and then start hitting golf balls off the roof, or flicking cigarettes out the window at the passers-by beneath your second floor West Village apartment (like Courtney Love was recently observed to be doing)? Be the sibling who helps the in-trouble brother deal with the parents; be the Barney Frank who patiently talks the Lewinsky affair into a non-issue; be the breath of sanity in an insane world; see the light at the end of the tunnel and stop--as they say in AA--confusing your insides with other people's outsides.
It's a nice zeitgeist coincidence that the Stone's kickass classic, Exile on Main Street, gets re-released this week. When the Stones nod off and light themselves on fire it's art - when someone like Lindsay goes for it--gives the social order the finger and goes careening through life with a cigarette and Jack Daniels bottle it's not art, it's a shame. Burn the witch! You want to destroy the person who's free in order to reinforce your decision to stay cowering in your cubicle, to show Lindsay that cowering in the cubicle is the only way to avoid being burned! I'm right to cower, see, LL! Taste the fire!!
The thing is, when you live vicariously through, say, the excesses of Tony Montana then you revere him as a genuine badass even after he's shotgunned in the back by that bald guy in sunglasses. But since LL is a cute waif-type, you want to throw stones and bedeck her in a burka. It's not entirely your fault- her kind of cuteness taps into a protective instinct, so we want to follow her around picking up her messes, paying her bar tabs, and scaring off tattooed suitors and shady dealers. She makes it damn hard for us to take our villainous mustache finger away and shout bravely "I'll pay the rent!"
For Lindsay is more than another ditzy sheep in fake tanning oil and peroxide, moving from one dumb boy to another, she's way cooler than Britney or Paris. Lindsay is a titan of self-destruction, like Keith "Just one drink / and I fall down drunk" Richards. Lindsay is a queen of drunken coke-whoring righteousness; she's Courtney Love with a better singing voice, and she's cuter too, and doesn't have a Frances Bean around to create any real concern about the safety of a minor; I say rock on, little Lindsay! Rock on! And when you want to come in from the cold, call me and I'll show you the best beginner's AA meetings in NYC and hold your hand during the serenity prayer!! As Long John Silver said to young Jim Hawkins: Certain we will!