The other day, I was talking to a friend about my reluctance to even watch this interview. At a certain point, more exposure for Lindsay Lohan seemed just too voyeuristic to handle. My friend said that it seemed like Lindsay had become “a zoo animal that keeps peeing on herself – all for the entertainment of the masses.”
But I was holding out hope that, of all people, Oprah could keep the public urination to a minimum.
I don’t know Lindsay. We were both young actors, working in Los Angeles at the same time, but we never met. There seems to be this idea that we all know each other, like we all hang out by a pool somewhere, comparing paychecks and criminal charges while Molly Ringwald braids our hair.
If this ever happened, no one invited me to the party.
Both Lindsay and I started working in the film industry when we were pre-schoolers, but our paths went in dramatically different directions. I think she has made some terrible choices, but one thing keeps sticking in the back of my mind: if I hadn’t decided to retire from acting and leave L.A., I could have been in that mess, too.
It’s pretty easy to become a child-actor sob-story, as a result of the chaos, pressure and loneliness that comes with the job. I just had two things going for me: a good support system and a non-addictive personality. So, in some ways, watching the interview felt like reading the alternate ending in a Choose Your Own Adventure book.
The whole interview was pretty straightforward. It felt like it came right out of a “How to Apologize on Oprah” manual that publicists must pass around. Lindsay admitted to being an addict and expressed remorse. She took responsibility for her actions and said that she had changed. She said things like “surrender” and “gratitude” and “one day at a time.” She offered up a veritable buffet of rehab lingo. Other than a somewhat adorable moment in which she confessed to having acid reflux, it was a parade of perfect talking points.
When Oprah asked her, in several different ways, about the root cause of her alcoholism, Lindsay never came up with a straight answer. I immediately assumed that she didn’t know and still had a lot of work to do on her recovery.
But then it hit me. Why does she need to tell ME? Maybe she is very clear about the causes, but why should she have to share that information with anyone other than her therapist? What gives me the right to demand any kind of “realness” from her? Does a 2 million dollar paycheck necessarily buy soul-spilling honesty? Should it?
There were clearly moments where she opened up. Lindsay talked about the chaos in her life. I can say first-hand that growing up on film sets was a chaotic existence. When most kids had a bed time, we had a call time. School was an afterthought and consistent relationships were nearly impossible to maintain. There was always a buzz of activity and much of it centered around us. Children tend to acclimatize to anything and assume their daily existence is the norm. So, in those moments of quiet when life calmed down, many kid actors – myself included – didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Lindsay said she got addicted to the chaos and tried to create some of her own. For the most part, she succeeded.
I have compassion for her. It’s different from sympathy. I’m annoyed by the repeat offenses and entitled behavior, but I understand where she is coming from and I think she needs someone in her corner. Not everyone can survive under the microscope of Hollywood and I just hope she knows that happiness available in many different places. Starting over is always an option.
Lindsay said that at one point she was hoping that she would go to jail, just so that she could just stop for a while and find some peace. I thought that was both devastatingly sad and a disturbingly common feeling for so many people. We all get lost sometimes, make mistakes and disappoint people. But beneath the excuses and apologies, we all just want to find a little peace. I hope she can find some of her own. And I hope she can find it somewhere other than a jail cell.
Featured image via Oprah.com