OWN offers us a candid look at the life of Lindsay Lohan in a new docu-series, but are Oprah and company causing more harm than good?
The Lindsay Lohan fascination baffles me. The vicious cycle of glorifying/vilifying/destroying female celebrities makes no sense on a human level1, it continues week in, week out. It happened to Resse Witherspoon, it happened (to a certain degree) to Taylor Swift, and it seems Jennifer Lawrence may be the next target. The goal seems to be to make these women train wrecks so that supermarket tabloids and Us Weekly can continue to perpetuate the myth that print media isn’t dead.
I use “train wreck” on purpose, because the new docu-series Lindsay on OWN tries to exploit the metaphor, though by exploiting the wrong part of the metaphor. Let me explain: what makes a train wreck fascinating to watch2 are the cars falling off the track, the sound of metal crashing, the whistles of the locomotive. It’s the spectacle of impact that is of the most interest. Granted, the emergency vehicles arriving at the scene with their flashing lights can be interesting, but you can watch that from home when all the local stations cover the story.
Lindsay takes place just days after Lohan exited rehab last summer, after the emergency crews have left and the derailed cars have been cleared. As the hero of this story, your instinct is to hope that she does well, which means no booze, no drugs, no parties, no drama. That goes against the instinct of what makes an interesting TV show. Instead, the premiere focuses on the underlying dramas likely fueling Lohan’s behaviors: inattentive staff, a distant mother, a possible hoarding condition.3 What becomes immediately apparent is the total lack of a support system Lindsay has in her life to reinforce her good decisions and guide her away from poor ones.
Perhaps the low viewership4 is a sign of how we can best help Lindsay conquer her demons. We should keep an eye on her, but perhaps not watch her.