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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 07/26/2007

Highbrow: Lindsay Lohan Zeitgeist Edition

By Liz Kelly

(Joe Hadley for

Sure, we all claim we're sick of Lindsay Lohan and her made-for-reality-TV antics, but what does her very existence say about our culture? I'm curious and would like to get your thoughts in the comments section -- but first, read what some other publications are saying:

Psychologist Harris Stratyner says in the NYT that Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears are "making a mockery of rehab." But is Lohan the victim of a permissive culture, shameless parents (registration required) or merely a typical addict, prone to relapse? Who cares? When it comes to celebs, the uglier the better, right? When it comes to predicting Lohan's future, though, look no further than the bottom line.

More Good Reads:
The Stiles Ultimatum (New York Magazine)
The Simpsons Go to Paris (Harper's Bazaar)
The Fug Girls See the End Times Coming (New York Magazine)
L.A. Confidentiality (Los Angeles Times)
Tender is the Psycho (The Age)
Bob Odenkirk Reveals His TiVo Secrets (Paper Magazine)
In Memoriam: Weekly World News Dies at 28 (Offbeat)

By Liz Kelly  | July 26, 2007; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Highbrow  
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Next: Morning Mix: Lohan 911 Tape Released, Nicole Richie Sentenced


I think this is a great question.

First, though, I'd disagree with whoever said stars are making a mockery of rehab. The truth is, younger people like LiLo very rarely "get it" the first time and, furthermore, it's very common for people to escape to rehab if they run into legal problems. Any attorney would advise this.

The mockery, imo, comes from places like Wonderland and Promises who have the nerve to call themselves rehabs and then, when one checks their websites, it's almost comical. Good rehabs are remarkably standard, and don't include pedicures and ocean views and trips off campus!

In LiLo's case, I do think her parents bear a lot of the blame - not for the addiction itself, but for her apparent lack of any coping mechanisms. The first lesson learned in a good rehab is to shut up and obey. This will be extremely difficult for Lindsay, who apparently has never had to do either.

If LiLo is to get past this, she needs to completely break from these toxic clowns until she's emotionally healthy enough to draw boundaries.

(I'm leaving Spears out of my comments simply because I'm not convinced she's an addict or alcholic. She has different issues, I think).

Posted by: Kendra | July 26, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

i agree. brit appears to have serious mental problems.

Posted by: b | July 26, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I assume Lilo didn't drive herself to the "Parent Trap" audition. And I've personally seen parents push their under 10 kids into photo shoots and commercials, and seen how quickly the kids change.
So no wonder the sweet little kid we saw (or thought we saw) in "The Parent Trap" is gone. Her parents sold her to show business.

Posted by: POS | July 26, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

POS, so then are we responsible when we go see Parent Trap, knowing full well that the little kids in such movies are being exploited by the guardians? How much are we responsible for LiLo and Brit? Not only did we drive them to huge success as minors, we (readers of Celebritoloty, OK, etc) also now drive the paparazzi that make it impossible for them to lead normal lives? (I'm not removing all responsibility for how they live, but obviously the paparazzi does not make it any easier for them to lead normal lives.)

Pivens' daughter might end up being fine after playing Will Ferrell's foul-mouthed landlady, but who's to say? If she doesn't, can we all pile on Pivens for "exploiting" her? (obviously, we can still pile on him for tipping waiters with DVDs of his terrible movies.)

Posted by: HS | July 26, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I feel sorry for both of them because neither appears to have a functional family or genuine friends who will tell them the truth about their behavior and help them get some real help (not Malibu rehab charlatan) to deal with their problems. They are also victims of their own success - they seem to believe they're above the rules and can get away with anything. Their money insulates them from the consequences their actions and their lifestyle insulates them from the real world. History tells us that child stars like these two (and they are still children mentally and emotionally) have to fall far and hard (i.e., into insolvency and obscurity) before they can see how much trouble they're in. Watch for these two to star in cable reality shows in 10 or 15 years.

Posted by: ikeaboy | July 26, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

It comes from kids thinking they're grown-ups. Parents or other adults are either too afraid or too awed to tell these children "no." I include Britney here because even though she is now a mom of 2 herself (I hope K-Fed is the good dad she claimed), she was practically getting naked on stage at age 17!! Where were this girl's parents?!? I can't speak for mocking rehab. The people I know who have been through it have typically been more than once, and they aren't superstars.

Posted by: InUSA1 | July 26, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Or from parents not knowing what it means to be an adult. We have reached a point in this society where the majority of people act like 2-3 year olds. They are"entitled". If the world does not comport with their view of things, they deny, demand, or simply operate as if it DOES comport with the way they see things (see, e.g, Bush Administration--what we say, is, despite all evidence to contrary). Others are to blame when things do not go as planned. Me first is the new credo. It is not just these celebrities, it is the people throwing tantrums because they have to wait while someone writes a check, it is the idiots using cars as weapons when someone 'disses' them in traffic. Everyone is so self-important and no one pays attention to anyone around them. Simple courtesies are seen as weakness. Everyone needs to stop, take a deep breath, and focus on what really matters in life and stop living it to get to the next possession, next high, next oh-so-important meeting. Own up, take responsiblity for one's actions, and be kind.

Posted by: Jo | July 26, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Friends have a beautiful, precocious red-headed daughter who was "discovered" at age 3 and had a healthy little modeling/acting career...that is, until her mother heard her tell another little girl, "I'm a model and you are not pretty enough to play with me." End of career. Period.

Posted by: True Story | July 26, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Lindsay and Britney didn't take rehab seriously and neither did Promises and Wonderland.
Promises didn't test Britney for drugs 15 days until after she arrived. Lindsay was able to go to come and go when she pleased and meet with the film producers at the center.

I think the A.G. Office of California should investigate Promises of Malibu and Wonderland to find the success rate of treatment, the qualifications of the staff, etc. There are too many questions about Promises and Wonderland.

Posted by: Lisa1 | July 26, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Jo, and, this sounds trite, but if everyone did one nice thing, even letting someone on the Metro car before you, each day, it would really go a long way toward changing the whole vibe around here. I think we are missing that these days, in DC and in Hollywood.

Posted by: Lily | July 26, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

My grad degree is in criminal justice; one of the prevalent theories about crime in the population turns on parenting. Lack of, negligent, poor or bad parenting tends to have a bad effect on kids.

My bet here is that Lindsay, Britney and these other "out of control" pop-tarts have been able to shrug off parental guidance from a young age, get through adolescence and young adulthood without any limitations or coaching on what being an adult is about, and then have spectacular flameouts-- which the media seems to take an unhealthy delight in covering.

Bad parenting, no punishment, staying a media darling (especially for bad behavior)... is it any wonder these girls are train wrecks?

Posted by: DB | July 26, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Great story, True Story! Kudos to that mom.

HS - That's an interesting question, but I'd guess there's still a way to "do it right" for the child star. And this applies to any wonderkid.

Check out what Mandy Moore has said about her parents, for example. Or look at someone like Tiger Woods.

I tend to think the parenting is always the key, whether we're talking starlet or kid next door.

Posted by: Kendra | July 26, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

and look at Linday's mother--the woman is trying to get her own tv show! What has this woman done beside ride her duaghter's coattails (and enable her behavior)? According to Perez, the younger duaghter is now in the fray, posting her position on the mother/father dispute on line (he posts her letter). It is deeply sad.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

It really just breaks my heart that the sweet little girl from The Parent Trap has fallen so far. I place the majority of responsiblity for this tragedy on the shameless parents. They had positions of trust and responsibilty and totally blew it. Even now they are fighting over how to raise the other two children still left at home. The permissiveness of our culture is very difficult to overcome when someone is NOT in the limelight much less someone who is addicted to it. Very sad indeed...

Posted by: momof3boys | July 26, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

interesting parallel here with the baby beauty pageant article in the Magazine. Lots of little Lindsays in training

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I think that most parents who would allow their young children to get involved in the entertainment, modeling or child pagent business at a young age - and then rely on them for family income, validation etc - have issues. This is passed on to the child and fanned by the sychopants, hangers-on and other outsiders with a financial interest in the star. They tolerate behavior that is unacceptable and indulge/enable their destructive behavior.

Few of these kids have a chance. It's amazing, frankly, that so many of them turn out to be ok - and are not dumped out of the bottom of the porn industry.

Posted by: ex cap | July 26, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

The whole "young celebrities on the rocks" phenomena is a truly sad commentary on the American obsession with fame and its trappings.

People and Us magazines have replaced newspapers as our predominant reading material. So-called reality TV shows (in which the characters are manipulated and played against one another to maximum effect) are often the main conversation topics in our places of work.

And our children, fed a constant diet of "late-breaking celebrity news," are being heard to say, "I want to be like Britney (or J-Lo, or Diddy, etc.) when I grow up." Yeah, that's what we need: an entire generation of starry-eyed, clueless, and self-absorbed idiots whose biggest concern is finding a finding a pair of party pumps to match their new bikini, before jetting off to South Beach.

The fact that so many of these post-adolescent role models are now going to jail and checking into rehab facilities (or spa resorts masquerading as rehab) should be setting off alarms in the heads of responsible parents everywhere. It's not like the kids are going to emulate only the best, most admirable qualities of their heroes. Alcoholism, drug addictions, STDs and other life-threatening travails that stem from bad judgment and a lack of education don't differentiate between the rich, middle class, and poor.

I'm as progressive as the next guy. But it's time we took a long, hard look around us at the celebrities, the products, the values, and the choices being mass marketed to those less aware than ourselves. And having done so, we need to begin to ask ourselves and each another, "Am I really satisfied with a lowest-common-denominator, ultra-commodified, faux culture for my family, my friends, and my neighbors?"

Posted by: niceFLguy | July 26, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The behavior we have seen and heard about from Lindsay's mother is very similar to stories I remember hearing about Drew Barrymore's mother.
Most of the time I think the idea of blaming the parents for their children's problems is bunk, but in these cases I think it is a large factor. The problem is about parents who were more interested in going to inapporpriate parties with their children, and wanting to be friends, not parents.
Let's hope that Lindsay will eventually be able so stay clean and break from her mother.

Posted by: Remember the past | July 26, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree that is comes down to parents. There are talented young actors (the Harry Potter kids, for example) that are learning the craft of acting, not becoming stars. Some may say its the same thing, but I think its a huge distinction. Acting is a real talent, whereas stars just master a few poses and hire publicists. As long as you teach your kids that just because you appear in a movie or a tv show does not make you better or more entitled than anyone else, then you can create a child actor that can continue to grow in a positive way. Of course, Lindsay never had that, and that's why she turned out like this.

Posted by: JK | July 26, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Brit and Lindsay actually make Jessica Simpson (currently best known for shilling an acne product) look healthy and sane ... and Jessica and her sister Ashlee (anyone heard from her lately?) had the original Show Biz Dad From Hell who once bragged in public about Jessica's breast size. And HE used to be a Baptist minister!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Well said, Jo and Lily! Show some common sense, demonstrate a little courtesy in our daily dealings with others, and make responsible behavior and accountability our top priorities. Is that so much to ask?

Posted by: niceFLguy | July 26, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Wait a sec: I have to *register* to be a shameless parent?

What a rip!

Posted by: byoolin | July 26, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

i repeat, it's all walt disney's fault. i was trapped in the waiting room at an auto dealer the other day and between trying to read my book i kept finding myself looking at the disney channel...

how many of the kids on those shows are going to grow up to be normal and productive?

Posted by: b | July 26, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

what's left of our culture is wallowing in the gutter, reduced to the lowest form of rubbernecking schadenfreude. Wallow on, Wal-Mart masses, Rome is burning.

Posted by: erm | July 26, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Ok, so if you sroll through some of the posts on "Idontlikeyouthatway" which is mentioned in Liz's NYT's article link there are pics of Lilo without underwear @ the Venice movie awards.

First Brit now Lilo.

GOD...why can't they wear underwear?? No one wants to see your shavded and scary @#%!!!!

On the other hand, I'm going to save a ton of $'s since I won't have an appetite for a week.

Posted by: Guy in DC | July 26, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Guy? We don't really care that Lindsay doesn't wear panties. Honest. That's kind of the point of this "Highbrow" thread. Please check back later for the "gutter-wallowing WalMart masses" thread.

Posted by: Wrong thread, bubba | July 26, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

hey, niceFLguy and Jo and Lily, let's start a movement: the Just Let It Go and Be Polite Movement. It will never catch on, but will be fun to try

Posted by: TJ | July 26, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Look, I didn't have much parental guidance as an adolescent either. And I made some bad decisions (still do sometimes), but all in all I turned out to be a pretty decent human being. Dare I say, a success even.

Granted, I wasn't a celebrity with a virtually bottomless bank account or paps following my every move, but I would venture a guess that Lilo's "hard partying" isn't much more excessive than your average partying 21 year old. We just happen to be fortunate enough to have documentation of it, whereas, in my day as long as we showed up for school on most days, things were pretty much okay.

And Britney, well, I know her type as well. She's just trash with money but without the mental capacity to deal with what she's become. Sad but totally predictable.

The issue is not how terrible these two and others like them are. In my experience, they're not much different from many people I grew up with - including myself - in terms of the partying and inability to take personal responsibility for their actions. The problem is that we all seem to think it's our business. It's not. Yet here we all are....

Posted by: FormerTart | July 26, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

That would be really great, TJ. Except that I'm often just as guilty as the next person. Especially in moments of heavily congested Beltway traffic. My girlfriend says the term 'defensive driving' does not imply that I should get defensive with the driver who just cut me off. But the Zoloft and the meditation lessons seem to be leading me in a more forgiving direction. :-)

Posted by: niceFLguy | July 26, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I know, niceFLguy, but here's a trick. It is hard, but worth practicing, when you find yourself with the rising blood pressure ask yourself, how will my raging/hitting steeting wheel/being upset change a thing? It won't. It will just make it worse by a factor of a million. Again, this is easy to say and hard to do, but try, next time, to take five deep breaths and say to yourself--it doesn't matter, I cannot do a darn thing, so I am going to think about something else. It really helps, whereas waling away at the hurricane doesn't affect the hurricane and breaks your boat.

Posted by: TJ | July 26, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

TJ? Did my girlfriend pay you to come on here and reiterate one of her favorite object lessons? Lol

Or maybe you ARE my girlfriend, traveling through cyberspace incognito!

In any event, your kind words are indisputably true. And I really am trying to be more courteous towards those who wrong me. Maybe electroshock therapy would help. Not me, silly - I was speaking of Britney and Lindsay.

Posted by: niceFLguy | July 26, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Hey, 1:00--don't knock the Proactiv!

Posted by: tamerlane | July 26, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

It really irks me when people give the whole "she's only 21, it's normal" excuse. I am 23, and I don't know anyone who has problems like that and if I did, I'm pretty sure I'd think they had some serious issues, too. People act like she is doing what every red-blooded American twenty-something is doing, except that her business is in the news. Sure, people drink to excess all the time. But most of them don't carry around coke and get busted multiple times for DUI. If anything, having your mugshot or pictures of yourself passed-out in every supermarket aisle in America should make you embarassed and ashamed, not ready for more. She likes the attention, and this is an easy way to get, no matter if you kill people for it.

Posted by: A | July 26, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm on board with the "Just Let It Go and Be Polite Movement"! Yah! (And I'm in California, so it'll be a coast-to-coast sea change! :-)

In addition to being good for ourselves and good for others, it creates good karma. "As you sow, so shall you reap" is 100% true, and I'd also like to emphasize that being kind and courteous does NOT mean being a doormat. It goes hand in hand with having healthy boundaries and sticking up for yourself.

As for the whole celebrity train wreck situation, LiLo, Brit, etc. ... the bottom line is no one's gonna change if she doesn't want to. These disasters need to WANT to change their behavior, or no rehab center or therapy or whatever's going to make a bit of difference.

As well, they need to be taught how to live in the real world after they get out of rehab. Sure, it's easy to do the right thing/have the best of intentions in the insulated confines of rehab or a therapist's office, but the real work begins when they get out in the real world and STILL have to do the right thing in the face of what may well be overwhelming temptations to do otherwise.

Posted by: Californian | July 26, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

My feeling is that the groundwork for Lindsay's behavior was laid when she was very young but the responsibility for her current behavior is her own. We're all formed by our parent's influence (or lack of it!) Eventually, personal responsibility and maturity has to kick in or you'll end up w/train wrecks like LL or Britney or Paris or whatever.
Parents want to be their children's friends and that's not their job. Their job is to teach them to be good, productive citizens. Courtesy is part of it, so is obeying the rules, understanding the boundaries.
I have empathy for LL re: her addiction issues because getting and staying sober is hard. For some people it's hard every*single*day. I hope she's able to find the help she needs to stick with it because her career won't be worth much if she can't.
In the 'breath of fresh air" department, read the piece about Julia Stiles.

Posted by: methinks | July 26, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

What a lot of great comments! I especially like pop tart :-).
People who kick their addictions with the help of the 12 Steps believe an addict has to hit bottom before recovery can start, and that hitting bottom is different for everybody.
For the pop tarts,bottom would probably be to be ignored.Why don't we do them a favor and try that? Or at least remove them from "entertainment" news.

Posted by: sophie | July 26, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Sophie has a good point. A lot of regular people have addictions, and it's not reported on the news, which IMHO enables the behavior.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Help! All links to Celebritology chat for the 26th lead to "Can't Find". I need my weekly fix!

Posted by: gina ellis | July 27, 2007 2:01 AM | Report abuse

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