Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception... for a better now

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lindsay Lohan will Have her Revenge on Seattle

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?

Consider Andy Kaufman and the way he would stage big battles, say against the wrestler Bill Blassie, and make it seem like they couldn't get through a talk show without trying to kill each other. Consider Andy's alter ego, the bullying lounge singer Tony Clifton (left). Was it just an act. for shock value, or something more artistic and genuinely subversive? To call attention to the way media hypnotizes us into believing and feeling things and having opinions on issues where we don't even know 90% of the story, this is to show us the way to freedom. Is this not the appeal of professional wrestling? We love to remember fake fighting as a child, the cathartic freedom and love that develops when you "pretend" to be mad, to fight, or to otherwise expose negativity as a fraud. Unlike the brutish mugs on wrestlers and thug mechanics, we believe the person with the cutest face and most pleading voice, unaware they could be the killer the whole time --as if noir taught us nothing. But just from our cliche'd expectations, we'd be willing to attack a giant dude in red spandex tights and a black mask if we saw him chasing her in the forest, when in fact he's just a one-trick Mickey and we're unaware she's setting us up for MURDER!

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.

But instead of Mae or Fields we have LL, and her downward spiral. Well, I've downward spiraled many times and I can tell you this: she'll either die or she won't, but unless you're a traffic cop and she's swerving down the road, or you're a relative--or a producer who's already paid her an advance on an upcoming role and the insurance company is making 'glug glug' gestures behind her back--then it's really none of your frickin' business if she wants to drink herself into an early grave, sneak off to Cannes and promote a film barely in the preliminary stages of casting instead of going to out-patient rehab, or blow holes in her own car with a shotgun like Nina Simone, or set herself on fire like Richard Pryor. It has nothing to do with you directly, or your appreciation or lack thereof for her music and movies - unless the flames of fires she starts singe your hem or your property or otherwise effect your actual physical space directly. If your only connection to her is via screen or print then your reactions are due to a director or journalist pushing your buttons to get you to 'hooked.' If it takes getting you into a self-righteously indignant "burn the witch!" tizzy to keep you reading, then you should look at your own self in the mirror and realize that all you need is a pitchfork, a tri-cornered hat, and a lit torch and you could go chase the monsters and virgins around with the rest of the frightened peasants.

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!"

 There's a saying in AA about when you're a down and out drunk there's only three outcomes: Locked up, sobered up or covered up, i.e. with a sheet in the morgue. Like any true drunk, LL is taking her time to decide which of the three her roulette ball will her rest upon. She's been spinning that wheel for awhile but the mind has great ways of hiding the harsher truths from itself. Whatever path she takes, we will lose a great rager and we will miss these days of crazy headlines and shocking paparazzi booze pics. While she's alive we should celebrate her every self-destructive moment as if she had been dead 20 years and become a James Dean-Monroe-Presley-style dorm poster icon, a rebel at a disease and despair-infused time that compares only to the 1950s as far as hysteria-driven moral conformity.

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!

Meanwhile, for the haters out there, I wouldn't worry too much about the social order toppling under her wobbly heel. The constrictive force of our quasi-repressive society wont weaken from a single millionaire wretch peeing on it. But... if the rest of us can rise up and follow in her wake... if we can show the same casual disrespect of our national system of constraints and punishments she has, what dirty victories we might achieve! The 1970s shall return at that time, and instead of WC Fields, the kids will have Lindsay Lohan up on their walls, not for her music or acting, but because she's the hot thin female Richard Burton / Keith Richards of a new era. She's Queen Jippo! Top of the world, Ma! KABOOOOM!! God bless the button-cute hammerhead, while we can.


  1. They should cast LL as Janis Joplin if her biopic ever takes off - she's certainly lived the role!

  2. I barely remember her as an actress, but I completely forgot the singing thing. Thanks for reminding me.

  3. never forget... I should post that awesome video where she lives in a department store window and longs to sleep with her father.

    And J.D., she would have to gain some weight like Charlize for Monster, but she'd definitely get an Oscar and make everyone forget about Bette Midler.

  4. She lives on Twitter, so if you're a tweeter, twit this to her tweet catcher and I bet you she'll see it and twat you back.

  5. I tried, god knows if I got write Lindsay. There's a lot of copycats, man. But thanks for the suggestion! xoxx

  6. Good on yer for pointing up the hypocrisy: the likes of Richard Burton, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Keith Richards and Keith Moon plough drunkenly through life, inflicting the ravages of booze, broads and brawling upon their heroically self-destructive psyches and they're hailed as pop-culture icons. A smokin' hot redhead in her early 20s does it and the moral majority want her head on a plate. I join you in giving a rousing cry of Go, Lindsay, fuck 'em all.

  7. Hello there - just thought I'd drop by and say I'm enjoying your blog. You might find something of value or interest at my own humble contribution to popular film culture - The Celluloid Highway

    Hope to see you there!


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