Why is America Googling Lindsay Lohan's fingernail?
By Alexandra Petri
I doubt Lohan is alone in writing surreptitious messages on her finger. If we’d been able to see the close-up daguerreotypes from the Scopes trial, we would have noticed that Clarence Darrow spelled “zounds” on his hand. If they’d only zoomed in on Elena Kagan during her memorable hearings, we would have seen that she was tapping out “I find these hearings vapid and hollow” in Morse code beneath her sensible blue suit. The last time I was in court -- I was looking for the restroom and had gotten confused -- I had written a list of reminders on my hand that I’m sure would have looked bad to the judge, since I needed to buy a screw and a copy of Democracy in America, in that order.
But, honestly, I don’t understand all the fuss. Not in the sense that I never understand what the fuss is about Lindsay Lohan, because I missed the two movies in history in which she was apparently good, or because I think there are more important things we should be doing, such as fundraising for Alvin Greene, or against Alvin Greene. I’m just curious about who, exactly, cares. I understand all the concern about Justin Bieber’s apparent feud with North Korea -- that could have spawned a major international incident -- but who are all these people frantically Googling “Lindsay Lohan fingernail,” currently the nation’s No. 1 search? Don’t they know that pelicans are dying and there are wars going on?
In an effort to find out, I used Google Trends to conduct a comparative search of “Lindsay Lohan” and “things that are more interesting than Lindsay Lohan.” Lindsay Lohan was winning by more than 100 percent. Apparently, no one ever Googles “things that are more interesting than Lindsay Lohan.” I Googled it and Google took me to Lindsay Lohan’s biography. I asked Google “Who are these people who are googling Lindsay Lohan’s fingernail?” “Do you mean Who are these people who are googling Lindsay Lohan fingernail?” it asked, taking me to breaking updates about Lindsay Lohan from Huffington Post.
I know that Lohan is proof that even celebrities are not above the law. I know that we watched her grow up and so we care about her in that special way we also care about other things we enjoyed in the last couple of decades, such as Monica Lewinsky’s testimony about her dry-cleaning preferences, or prosperity. And I understand the disappointment that accompanied this revelation about her finger. We thought she had learned this time. We thought that the system was working. Instead, she’s been sentenced to 90 days -- and maybe more on the way, now that everyone’s spotted her fingernail calligraphy.
This is the point where I am supposed to say something about how Lohan is emblematic of our vast cultural refusal to grow up, or, alternatively, about how she is a perversely inspiring outlaw figure in the sense that someone who cuts off her nose to spite her face, repeatedly and publicly, is perversely inspiring. Or maybe I am supposed to say, “With all the real problems that are going on these days, maybe Americans just want to laugh and obsess and opine and worry about something that doesn’t actually make a difference, something as frivolous as the star of Freaky Friday’s fingernail.” Instead, I have written a rude message on my finger and am repeatedly shoving it in the direction of the screen. Why, Lindsay? Why, America?
Maybe if we just ignored it, it would go away. Instead of Googling Lindsay Lohan fingernail, let’s Google “something substantive.” Right now, when I type that, Google responds “Did you mean, something substantial?”
| July 7, 2010; 2:03 PM ET
Categories: Petri | Tags: Alexandra Petri
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