Over the past 15 years the world has watched Lindsay Lohan transform from a young, hopeful actress to a lost and, as some would say, over-privileged, victim to the Hollywood machine, a vicious world of egos, drugs and disillusionment which has left many unfortunate artists washed up or, even more horribly, dead. Her struggles as a recovering addict have garnered more worry from the public than anything, as family and friends of the 27 year old starlet have scrambled to try and create for her a trouble-free path to salvation, a path that hasn’t gone untainted in the last year. After leaving rehab for the 6th time last summer, Lohan was approached by Oprah to film a candid documentary mini-series for the OWN network which originally aimed to showcase Lohan’s long awaited severance from her problem-stricken lifestyle and her rise to wellness and success.
The mini-series turned out to be painful realization for viewers: Lohan is battling a serious illness. I must admit what originally drew my attention to the show was the hope that I would finally see Lohan’s tragic over-drawn narrative resolve itself. I wasn’t interested in the celebrity gossip, but the doors to Lindsay’s life were being opened so that the world could at last have a fair-minded understanding of her story, and so I took the opportunity to learn. I wanted the happy ending; I believe all beings ultimately want to see these happy endings for one another. At first I was blown away and irritated by Lohan’s spoiled antics. She was tardy, unprofessional, ungrateful, immature and flat-out rude to the group of people trying to help her succeed in her recovery.
The series introduced the viewers to a group of determined people who surrounded Lindsay 24/7 and who wanted nothing more than to help Lindsay create a new, healthy life for herself in New York City. This group included a motivational life coach, a sober coach who came from Lindsay’s rehab center, old friends and an indomitable assistant with enough patience to wait on the entire world, to name a few.
They stuck through some of the most agonizing requests from a star I’d ever seen, like organizing the warehouse sized storage facility which housed all of Lindsay’s clothes and personal belongings from Los Angeles, or her refusal to film on days she didn’t want to, breaching the contract the documentary production company had pre-established with Lindsay (*I later discovered Lindsay had a miscarriage during the time when she was refusing to film, a well deserved excuse.) I felt very disappointed in Lindsay, I felt like she was spitting on one of the last opportunities that would be given to her to amend her lifetime of unhealthy choices. But then I came to a realization about myself and the celebrity culture. I decided to let go of my judgement and frustration surrounding Lindsay’s unsatisfying story. I let go of my need for the happy ending and became just a neutral observer of her life, which provided me with a higher understanding and perspective on the situation. Lindsay is a broken product of the Hollywood machine and an unstable family life which has been destroyed by money, drugs and the conditions of her early fame. Hey mother is also a recovering alcoholic, her father a Wall Street criminal, both of whom provided a dysfunctional environment for Lindsay and her siblings growing up. Moving away from the normal judgement that we so easily place upon stars, I felt compassion for a girl who, like so many other young artists, was enveloped into a world too fast for her own good. I can only imagine the type of developmental blockages someone faces as a child growing up in the fame culture. Society feeds this machine every day, buying into advertisements, tabloids and investing and attaching our opinions and judgements to these celebrity lives as if they owe us something.
The reverse can also be said about celebrities, that they attach themselves to our attention and constantly expect something from us, because without the latter relationship this world could not exist. But this relationship that we have with one another is the culprit of the problem of celebrity-fan culture. We expect, we judge and we blame.
These things are easy to do when it comes to ‘rich’ people’s lives. We easily jump to these perspectives and desensitize ourselves from the fact that these people are human beings. When we judge these people’s lives, we are doing nothing to perpetuate the betterment of our world. Instead, by choosing to observe and understand from the higher perspective, we can learn from these kinds of circumstances. In the end, I look at Lindsay not as the celebrity who the world loves to hate and who has been given too many chances, but as a vulnerable girl who has lived out her youthful choices in front of the world. She is fighting an illness that has warped the foundations of her morals and logic, and she has been brave enough to let the world see this. And I have to give it to her, she is trying. She is trying to amend her lifetime of unhealthy choices and self-sabotage. Her life stands as a microcosm of a bigger issue that involves not only the Hollywood machine, but the observers (us) of this machine as well. From her documentary series “Lindsay” on the OWN network, “You guys love this shit when I cry.. It’s a really fucked up disease and it’s really scary. I have addictions, but I’m not your typical addict, that’s not who I am. I’m a kind person, I know the difference between right and wrong, and idiotic, I know that... [wiping away tears with a tissue]. I have things that I can do [now] or people who I can surround myself with or not be with, I worked with a shaman and did a cleanse, had a really eye-opening experience of ayahuasca, it was really intense. I saw my whole life in front of me, and I had to let go of things from the past that I was trying to hold onto that were dark in my life. I saw myself being born. And I feel different ever since that... it’s being okay with the wreckage of my past and starting fresh. It was hard in the beginning of this series, it was scary. But now I’m working again, I’m doing good and I don’t want to mess with that. It feels good.
The biggest thing I’ve learned from this experience is that I have that fire back in me. I have that aggressiveness I used to have to keep going, to be happy, I’m feeding my soul again. That feels incredible, thank you.” .
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