In a 2010 Grace Kelly inspired front-cover profile of Lohan for Vanity Fair, the Nancy Jo Sales we know and love states: “Lindsay looked a little raw. And yet shining through her worry and stress and whatever else was currently affecting her mood was her all-American beauty, finer and more delicate in person than in pictures. She still looked like a movie star. She smelled of cigarettes and exotic perfume.”
A very embarrassing thing I have fully embraced about myself is that my brain holds too much information about Lindsay Lohan. In a hypothetical quiz where I was presented with a random photo of the actress, I would swiftly be able to easily identify what specific era it is derived from, as well as extensive details that to someone unfamiliar with her saga would seem chimerical. When names like Patrick Aufdenkamp become familiar, I begin to wonder why I care so much. There is an element of irony in my admiration, but there is no doubt I do hold a positive stance about the starlett.
Tabloids and gossip magazines often report the behaviors of young stars. A large segment of the tabloids focus on those who act entitled and expect special treatment due to their fame. The inquiry ‘Don’t you know who I am?‘ is most frequently perceived as pompous, but maybe it should also be interpreted as the absolute cry for help. The person posing such a self-important question is so unaware of his/her reality that s/he needs others to remind him/her of it. The worth or lack of worth ultimately appears to fully depend on the recognizability of the individual.
In “The Schema of Mass Culture,” Adorno argues that the commodification of the cultural industry ceases its distinction from pragmatic life: “On all sides the borderline between culture and empirical reality becomes more and more indistinct.” Consequently, the individuals who find themselves in the culture industry confront the loss of their private reality, especially when their public presence is one in which they are investing in to develop a personal brand. As the person becomes the product, the risk of losing a part of their previously held individuality becomes grave: the personality features that are expected to generate more profit will comprise the new “person,” more representative of the brand/ product.
Earlier today Roxane posted about the merits of what she called “good stories.” She also invoked a discussion of the conventional/experimental split. I have just read her post and feel compelled to respond. (Thanks, Roxane, for providing such a provocative post!)
Let me admit right up front that this post is going to be impromptu, and therefore the organization of my thoughts will presumably be scattershot, and in no way comprehensive. I am not going to edit this post; I’m just going to type off the cuff and then post the post. I have to do it this way or else I’ll do like I always do, which is to say that I’ll tell myself I’m going to write a post responding to Roxane’s post, but then I won’t ever get around to doing it.
So here goes my thoughts as they occur to me…