Earlier this week, CBS affiliate WUSA in Washington D.C. announced it would no longer cover Lindsay Lohan.
Fred D’Ambroisi of WUSA first suggested the Lohan ban on his twitter. After an enormous response, D’Ambrosi tweeted, “OK. Due to popular demand, we just killed the :20 #LindsayLohan story in @wusa9 @5. The people have spoken!”
The ban followed reports that Lohan’s assets had been seized by the IRS for failing to pay taxes, and that Charlie Sheen had given Lohan $100,000 to pay some of the debt.
It has truly been an awful fall for Lohan, who does seem to be genuinely disturbed and drug dependent. However, there’s a hardness to her actions, a manipulative quality that does not lend itself well to sympathy. The latest arrest, last week, allegedly occurred after Lohan punched a woman in the face inside New York’s Avenue Lounge for wanting to hook up with a member of The Wanted. Lohan then screamed “are you kidding me” at cops as they hauled her out of the club.
The incident merely repeats a violent scuffle earlier in the fall, where she was involved in a dispute inside a hotel. Indeed, Lohan’s legal backstory for the fall alone is dizzying. Yet, it’s a different kind of dizzying than previous celebrity downfalls.
Charlie Sheen’s was funny, Britney Spears’s sad, and Whitney Houston’s positively devastating. Oddly, Lohan’s downfall conjures no distinctive emotion at all, other than exhaustion.
Comparing Lohan’s overexposed woes to those of Britney Spears during her 2007 divorce-fueled breakdown elicits some key distinctions.
Most importantly, the public’s appetite for Spears news was insatiable, which is not the case with Lohan. In 2007, Rolling Stone wrote “the multibillion-dollar new-media economy rests on [Spears’s] slumped shoulders, with paparazzi agencies estimating that she has comprised up to twenty percent of their coverage for the past year.”
The optimist would say that people were still rooting for Spears, reading news updates in the hope she had finally sought treatment for the circus of divorce, motherhood and career uncertainty that left her mentally unstable. The realist would say that Britney’s sugarcoated, bad schoolgirl tease of an image begged to be destroyed and devirginized. An accurate conclusion, looking back, is a synthesis of the two. Audiences wanted to see Spears spiral, but retained enough investment in her music and person to believe at least in the possibility of her redemption.
Maybe it’s a cruel lack of sympathy on the media’s part, but Lohan’s redemption seems not only implausible, but fundamentally uninteresting.
Lohan floundered too early in her career to have built a strong relationship with filmgoers. Yea, Mean Girls was funny, and she gave a good performance, but it was one film. In an irony of high school Queen Bee proportions, Amanda Seyfried who played the film’s ditzy dope Karen, is now a more legitimate actress than Lohan.
These days, even Lohan paparazzi photos fetch fractions of what Spears photos did, even though they are often far juicer.
The CBS ban is a sort of “enough is enough” move by a media leader, to argue that we may be becoming part of the problem.
Regardless of whether other media outlets follow CBS’s lead, one thing has become clear: we are no longer witnessing a fall, but an anticlimatic fade.
There is a cold edge to Lohan that suggests lawlessness is her new career, almost begging anyone to challenge her. Jail, court dates and TV movie flops have been her normal since roughly 2006, when she got her first of two DUis and two arrests for cocaine related charges.
Now, in 2012, the media can no longer frame Lohan stories as the temporary derailment of a promising young star. Now, the number of stories is the news, with nothing fresh to say. Frankly, she has no career to be derailed from.
Even if Lohan does magically get it together through treatment, counseling, or simply adult responsibility, her biggest risk is not failure–it is that the public will not care about even an authentic comeback, having been entirely desensitized to the depth of her tragedy.