Is Hollywood truly the den of iniquity we mortals perceive it to be?
Based upon the travails of fallen/trainwreck starlet Lindsay Lohan and racist/insane person Mel Gibson (as well as so many others), perhaps it is. Some stars manage to make it decades in the biz and come out relatively unscathed—or at least it seems that way. Jodie Foster, Natalie Portman, and Leonardo DiCaprio seem to have made it through. Drew Barrymore (who struggled with very young drug addiction and rehab) , Christian Bale (whose insane rant on the set of Terminator: Salvation made for one of the catchiest remixes to happen in the last ten years), Christina Ricci (who spoke openly about her eating disorder) , and Winona Ryder (who randomly shoplifted from Saks Fifth Avenue) , went through well-publicized rough patches, but either through great PR or sheer tenacity, made it back to the top.
Lohan, whose first starring role at age 11 was in the Disney remake of The Parent Trap, has had a long, horrible history of drug abuse; her relationship with DJ Samantha Ronson was front-page news for ages; her family prefers to publicize their issues on Twitter rather than settle them in a normal fashion. The girl is seriously not okay. Everyone in the world seems to realize this…except the Lohans. Lindsay was recently sentenced to 90 days in jail due to an incident a few years ago whose details I can’t even remember. She checked into a rehab center owned by her new celeb lawyer Robert Shapiro in a last-minute effort to avoid jail time (while certain idiots publicly wonder whether she’ll be a target for lesbian gangs in jail if indeed she goes to the big house) . Etc, etc.
For a time in 2008, I was glued to the computer, horrifically rubbernecking what was termed the “Britney Death Watch,” during which Britney Spears locked herself in her house with her toddlers and seemed to have a complete mental breakdown. We will only idly mention Scientology and Tom Cruise’s “Oprah” couch-jumping.
Lohan’s colossal trainwreck is the same: we can’t seem to look away, and yet by hitting websites, by tuning into E!, we’re giving the Lohans the attention they so crave.
Gibson, whose anti-Semitic rant to police officers was serious and scary enough that it made international news, is back in the news the last week or so because of a series of horribly misogynistic, racist, cruel audio clips that ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva released to the media (ostensibly because she feared for her life). Hear one clip here, but be forewarned, it contains extremely NSFW—or life—language. Gibson has been acting for 30+ years. Quite frankly, I’ll never look at the Lethal Weapon movies in the same way. Sure, the guy has talent. Sure, he was charming in a number of roles. He’s also a completely racist, misogynistic psycho.
The question is, why is Lohan granted the fame (or perhaps infamy) and fortune and the enablers with whom she surrounds herself? Why has Gibson managed to make it in showbiz for so many decades with no one outside the scene the wiser to his crazy?
Is it the artifice of acting, the fact that you must be slightly unstable to take on a profession in which you become someone else for a time? (Considering how many actors seem to basically be functional, this doesn’t quite fit.)
Is it the town itself, nestled in the Southern California hills, isolated from the rest of the world, insulated by smog and the atmosphere of awesomely huge egos?
Is it Lohan’s pitiful, gold-digging family or her upbringing as a saccharine-sweet Disney kid? Is it Gibson’s erstwhile action hero status and ability to draw enablers to kiss his shoes?
Is it simply the state of the media? The instant gratification of the internet means more paparazzi are out there to get paid, more celebrities are caught in ugly moments, and at times, the world seems to hinge on the dumbest things: what Katherine Heigl is wearing on the set of her new movie; what jeans Katie Holmes wore today; and who the hell are Speidi, now? Hell, even the President knows how to use social media to his advantage (boy howdy).
Drew Barrymore recently rebelled–hard–against the term “celebrity” when applied to working actors/directors/producers/etc. Lohan, I think, classifies as a “celebrity,” but Gibson is, like Barrymore, an actor, producer, and director. What’s the fundamental difference?
As a society, we’re in a very strange place right now. What say you, Fourth Wall readers? Thoughts on the antics of today’s actors/celebrities, and why they get away with so much while we mortals slave away under fluorescent lights or in the hot sun all day?
(All photos copyright their original owners.)
Julia Rhodes graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Communication and Culture. She’s always been passionate about movies and media, and is particularly fond of horror and feminist film theory, but has a soft spot for teen romances and black comedies. She also loves animals and vegetarian cooking; who says horror geeks aren’t compassionate and gentle? Google+