Monday, October 24, 2011

When Good Girls Go Bad...

Lindsay Lohan through the years{images: google images}

An uncharacteristically deep post. I never like doing them because they make me all squirmy. Being deep means being vulnerable when normally, I like using satire and irreverence to both entertain my audience and keep myself protected. However, I think it's always important to keep my blog in line with how I feel. I'm setting the sarcasm aside today because something has really been bugging me. 

This might seem a bit disjointed at first, but try and hang with me. Last week, I was brainstorming for ideas for a new post when I was struck by how many stories I was seeing about various scandalous behaviours from some of our favourite train wrecks. I began collecting images of various starlets. But as I gathered these images, I started to lose my passion for putting this post together. Then as I was watching the British version of "The X Factor", one of the judges set off some controversy among the judging panel over Misha B's offstage attitude/behaviour.

{Misha B on The X Factor, image:}

It became an argument over whether or not the judges and the audience should factor in her offstage behaviour (which is shown as 'behind-the-scenes' tidbits) when it comes to judging her vocal ability. Apparently, Misha B isn't necessarily nice when dealing with the other contestants. Then I saw an article mentioning a "Lindzine". A mini-magazine tribute to Lindsay Lohan. I couldn't help but think "Why?!" 

Lindsay Lohan's mug shoot March 2011{image: google images}

That's when the passion for this post was reborn. If you're reading this blog, you probably follow celebrities, fashion and other similar interests of mine. Chances are you are familiar with Lindsay's many stints in rehab and jail. It's really easy to pick on Lindsay. With her series of bad choices, she's gone through a lot. But, this post isn't about Lindsay bashing.

Once upon a time, a scandal sank a person's movie career. 

{Ingrid Bergman, image: via}

In the 1940's, Ingrid Bergman had some serious acting chops. She could be the family girl that everyone loved but who could infer there was a sultry raging slut just under the surface in movies like "Notorious" and "Casablanca". Ingrid Bergman was America's sweetheart. She was married and had a child, and was arguably, the picture of what the American dream was supposed to be. Things took a nasty turn when she got pregnant while having an affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini. People took the affair personally. Colorado Senator Edwin C. Johnson denounced Ingrid Bergman as "a powerful influence for evil" on the floor of the U.S. Senate. A scandal, had a massive, near tragic, effect on a person's career. 

Today, we seem to take a good steamy scandal and make stars out of people because they make a sex tape. 

{left image: Harpers Bazaar; right}

They go on to make brands out of themselves and sell everything from sunglasses to perfume and people seem to eat it up. Why? I can't cast stones. If I'd been in a shop and seen that small Lindzine, I probably would've been curious, picked it up and looked through it. While I can proudly say, "I've never purchased anything associated with Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian", I have clicked through their online collections from time to time to see what they're about. 

Am I way out of line with asking what the hell is going on with us? 

{Britney Spears, images 1&2: google images, 3rd images from}

Am I alone when I sit here, gobbling up newsfeeds about celebrities, good and bad? I confess, I bought one of Britney Spear's perfumes for someone as a Christmas present once. It was exactly what they wanted. Why? Why did they want a perfume with someone's name on it, who was clearly struggling at the time? Is there really a believable illusion that Britney Spears has some sort of insight into the chemical magic that is perfumery? Maybe, it was just a lovely scent that the person felt they couldn't live without and it didn't matter to them if Britney's name was associated with it. If only I could've shaken the experience of talking to the employee who helped me get the desired bottled out from behind the glass. The employee waxed poetic about how much they loved everything "Britney" for at least 20 minutes and I couldn't escape without being ridiculously rude. Tact, manners and body language cues were not working on this star obsessed person. 

 I don't want to pick apart starlets/people. Instead, I just want to ask everyone a couple of questions. 

1. Do you ever find yourself rooting for someone who has gone horribly off the rails in the public eye, to pick themselves up and get back on top?
2. Do you think we have an obligation to ourselves, to demand a certain level of morality and decorum from people who are famous?
3. Do you think there's a correlation between our tolerance of bad behaviour from celebrities to our tolerance of bad behaviour in other sectors of society, e.g. financial sectors/government officials?



  1. You're so interesting and thought-provoking, my dear. I suppose I'm an anomaly because I've never really been too interested in celebrity gossip. Even as a teenager, I found it to be silly and a waste of time. Now that I've had time to reflect upon it as an adult, I can probably say my feelings are mostly due to the fact that I do not want to support, in any way, these people I have no respect for. Question #2 is the big one for me: I believe we should absolutely expect more from people who are famous. Then again, oftentimes they are merely giving the public what we want. It's a vicious cycle and a reflection on our time just as much as it is anything else, I think. I think we need to have respect for ourselves, too; enough respect to say, "I'm not going to contribute to the millions of dollars Celebrity X is making for having a sex tape, making terrible movies, etc."

  2. I dont buy into the celeb culture so am largely very ignorant of it - it certainly isnt remotely aspirational to me - i think to a large degree peoples private lives are just that however if you are publicly constantly seeking attention in a negative manner you cant really be surprised if that is what you get x

  3. 1. I honestly never have, except for Rihanna. She was a victim and has tragically gone through everything in public. I think the others have a bit of responsibility in their downfalls. We should forgive, but I have a hard time doing so with celebrities for some reason.
    2. This is a tough question. It always leads to the teenage pop singer debate. Celebrities know that they have an impact on the world and youngsters at that. Some of them are reckless and always will be. Others have a choice. I also think there is a way to conceal your ways. Take Halle Berry. She's uber famous, but usually keeps to herself.
    3. Absolutely! I think the politicians especially have become celebrities in their trysts. Take Elliott Spitzer. After the right amount of time, he was offered a position on CNN. What does worry me is the effect on a younger generation. They're going to think sex tapes are normal and affairs are acceptable. This is not right.

  4. oh man. I am so glad that I don't follow celebrities... I didn't even know who Misha B was until this post. One of the things I really HATE so much is Teen Mom. I dunno how I even got to know about this since I don't actually watch TV. But what in the hell is wrong with people watching this show? What is the message we are sending when we support these kids who are so convinced that willingly having children at their age by watching that show? UGH!

    I think people should be more careful of their reputation. I mean, people can have fun and all that, but they should take the extra step to think about the consequences of their actions.

  5. You know, it's so easy to hate the Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohans of the world but yet I've always found myself rooting for them, hoping they'd get sober or, in the very least, strive for a better life for themselves. I can't help but believe that these super-stars that have fallen hard are somewhat a product of us wanting them to fall hard. It's like we, as a culture, want blood.

    To think we should hold celebrities to higher moral standards seems silly, yet, if I had kids I certainly wouldn't want them thinking it was cool to make a sex tape or flash your girl-parts to cameras. Although, we survived Madonna as a role model didn't we?

  6. Can't answer these deep Qs atm, though I do recall always being a fan of Lindsey. And if she ever came back onto the acting scene, professionally, I'd be excited.

    And boo, you did move to Seattle too late for you to enter my contest! But how'd you like today's sun? Don't get used to it <3

    te amo,

  7. Setting aside any personal beliefs or interests, I find it quite easy to say why we (the public in general) love scandal. We thrive on finding just how human celebrities really are. The public looks at them as if they were superhuman because they make millions, they have dream houses and beautiful spouses/partners/etc. The truth is that, when they commit crimes/cheat/whatever, they become more real to the public. This is just like seeing someone you envy fall in front of other people, you shouldn't, but you kind of smile inside because you realise bad things happen to them too.

    As for rewarding them for having indecent behaviour, that I cannot condone. Some celebrities get away with a lot that a common person would not get away with, which is quite frustrating. But I believe in looking out for yourself and forgetting about what is going on out there.

  8. Hmm.. tolerance for bad behavior for celebrities giving way to tolerance for political figures.. interesting. I never thought of it like that, but you're totally right. I think like how Reese Witherspoon said a while ago that if you were a young person and messed up like them, you would hang your head and not be proud of it. I think that's how normal people (non-celebrities) are, but it's interesting that we're not punishing them for their bad actions, rather giving them reality tv shows and careers out of their fame.

  9. Thought provoking post. I'd post a rebuttal but I completely agree and feel what you are trying to say.

  10. Interesting post. I feel it's sad that people like Lindsey and Britney are mocked and shamed for all their crazy antics. We shouldn't condone them but "regular" people are doing these things all the time, I don't think we should expect them not to because they're in the public eye.. but on the other hand, I hate how celebs get an easy ride in terms of justice, people like Paris Hilton serving hardly any time for serious offences that would see others in jail for a lot longer.

  11. Thank you for the sweetest comment, dear.

  12. interesting points. I think we've gotten to where we are today in terms of attitudes towards these types of behaviour is largely due to the media feeding people what they want to see. Scandal and sex sells and the more they feed the machine, the more the people demand it. i think some of root for the fallen to get back up and rise again but others only want to see them fall.

    Tolerance and encouragement of poor behaviour, whether its celebrities, wall street, or politicians seem to have increased as social mores have relaxed. How this benefits society is yet to been seen.

  13. This is so crazy to see. She's definitely an example of someone who just looks nothing like she did when she started out. No more adorable little freckle faced girl. )=

  14. Nice post!:)
    1 - Yes, I do root for celebrities who have had a rough time. I believe we're all humans, we all make mistakes and we all deserve a second or third, or forth...chance in life. I always liked Lindsay Lohan (I guess I feel a connection with her cause she was born just one day before me) and it's sad that she is destroying herself like this. I guess a lot of these girls lacked guidance from their parents and simply got lost. I also think we expect a lot from celebrities. They need to be thin, beautiful, interesting, talented and when they slip once we're very quick to judge, which I think is very unfair. For instance, when a celebrity doesn't lose her baby weight immediately we jump on them like they committed some crime. Surreal!
    2- I don't think who should demand anything from anyone. Just that they don't break the law like everyone else. It's ridiculous to me to demand that someone like Miley Cyrus, for instance, has a certain behavior just because a lot of her fans are kids. She has the right to live her own life. It's the parent's job to educate their children. My sister is 10 and she loves all those tv shows. It's my parent's job, and mine, to prevent her from being educated by celebs. I used to love the Spice Girls as a kid. Their lyrics were charged with sexual content but I wasn't a promiscuous teen because of that. It's all about the environment you live in.
    3- I think the reason's we're tolerant with celebrities is very different from why we're tolerant with politicians. Most of people don't understand politics. They're not familiarized with the financial system and most of the times don't realize what's happening. For that, I believe people become lazy and just go with flow, instead of taking action. With show biz celebs is different. I think we'r tolerant, first because their lives amuse and entertain us and second, cause at the end of the day, we'r all people and we'r all in this together!
    Sorry for the very long comment!

  15. I love long comments! And I love a good discussion. I think you brought up some really interesting points. I do think we have an obligation to make sure the environment we create for our kids is a good one and not leave it to the media to lay their moral foundations. Perhaps I should have phrased asked another question on top of those. "Do you think the media has a greater moral obligation to society about what they report about celebrities?" Or, "In today's economic conditions, most families are required to work more, which leaves a lot of kids without a lot of guidance. Therefore, to the benefit of society, should media shoulder more responsibility about the images they portray since they are so influential?" Yay!! I really love great discussions and you brought it! It's fantastic so don't ever apologize for it. ;)

  16. Yeah, I have always hoped she would get herself straightened out. She's getting to an age though, where it's hard to believe she might manage it. :(

  17. I'm risking it for a biscuit as they say around here, and venturing forth a hypothesis that might be a bit incendiary. I think we may have seen how it benefits societies in the past when morals begin to decay in a society. Many great Empires have risen and fallen throughout time and there is usually a marked unravelling of their moral code during the process of their fall. Decadence and corruption played massive roles in the fall of the Roman Empire as well as many others. :(

  18. Whole heartedly agree. I don't think a lot of celebrities are punished severely enough simply because of who they are. The whole mess where Charlie Sheen accidentally shot Kelly Preston, or pulling a knife on his wife Brooke Muller - practically no repercussions at all. I don't think we should cast stones when it comes to people failing since none of us are perfect, but I do believe we should all have equal repercussions to bad behavior and not varying degrees of it simply because some of us are more famous or have more money.

  19. omg laura, I so agree with you. I have personally boycotted that show Teen Mom. It's disgusting. How on earth can someone sit straight faced and portray that as an educational show instead of the exploitive usury that it is? Glamorizing teen pregnancy so that other teens might be misguided enough to fall into the idea that this is a great way to get rich and famous. Gag.

    I do wonder, if our tolerance of bad behaviour gives a young impressionable portion of society, the mis-perception that it's OK to do things they wouldn't otherwise do. :(

  20. Great questions! I know I should probably ignore them and get back to work but I can't help myself. :-)

    1. In general I'm always rooting for the down and out; even those who find themselves in situations based solely on a lifetime of poor decisions. Granted, I'm disgusted by the behavior of entitled celebrities, yet on occasion sheepishly find myself clicking a link to read about the latest indiscretion, but I'm certainly not gloating over their pain or downfall. If anything, like you, I'm discouraged. However, I can't help but think back to the many shady or stupid decisions I've made in my somewhat mundane life, and I'm confident that many of them could easily have had negative results. Was I lucky? Maybe. Did I make fewer bad decisions than Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears? probably. But that certainly doesn't allow me to stand in judgement. These people are completely isolated and have been for years. The more popular you are the less perspective you have; objectivity is impossible to maintain when you allow yourself to be surrounded by parasites, smothering you with adulation and affirmation simply to benefit from your success. What would I be like if my peers simply told me I was awesome? Probably just the opposite.

    Let's take Brittney Spears as an example. Am I happy that she seems to have kick-started her career again? Sorta ... on some level I don't really give a hoot for Brittney Spears, but I did notice and had a brief thought that it was cool that she's no longer a train wreck, but to say I'm happy for her is going too far. She's in the same career doing the same things (insert long diatribe about objectifying women here) that probably contributed to her first downfall, and if I had to guess there's another one just around the corner. If I root for anything it's that these people will leave the public spotlight and possibly even leave their chosen career path. Their very actions speak to deep anxieties and a lack of satisfaction with their lives.

    2. I have really strong opinions, and while I'd love to berate Hollywood, etc. for their moral depravity and hedonistic world view, I don't think that's a battle worth fighting. I'd love to see celebrities acting decently and I'm completely drawn to stories of the rich and famous acting with honor and self-respect. I'm tempted to put them on a pedestal; a lighthouse in the storm so to speak, but invariably these noble behaviors are followed up by those that disappoint. I'm no longer surprised. If we have an obligation, it's to stop consuming crap. We vote with our dollars and if we continue to watch television and movies that put human depravity on display than so be it; we made the bed we're sleepin' in.

    3. Yes, in as much as our entertainment can numb our sensitivities and lead us to often implicit conclusions that certain behaviors are acceptable. Every time we watch or hear something that glorifies something negative (think Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men, or some of the offensive-to-all humor on South Park) we lose a bit of our innocence and clarity. We may say something along the lines of, "some people may live like that, but not me," which is simply a form of moral relativism. We're trained to be tolerant of other's behavior just so long as it doesn't affect us (directly), because we can't all agree on a source for morality. It's a combination of moral decay, tolerance, and a whole slew of other factors (what your first commenter said about ignorance, cynicism, etc.) that certainly contribute, at least partially, to this laissez faire attitude towards the behavior of those in the other sectors you mention.

  21. Hi Mark! That is a very beefy response. I'm glad I sparked some discussion with this article.

    I have to agree that the behaviour of certain entitled celebrities horrifies and disgusts me. The Charlie Sheen melt down and his pursuant tour debacle where people stampeded their way to go see it in person, was really sickening. I agree that we do vote with our dollars and I find it saddening that it's possibly making these behaviours seem acceptable to the impressionable.

    I too, am not perfect and have made some really questionable choices. If I had been under the public's scrutiny, I'm fairly sure that wouldn't have gone very well. I also have never made a ton of money off of those bad decisions.

    Here's my inner geek shining through. If I were to root for anything it would be that we stop throwing money at people to entertain us with good and bad behaviours and start throwing money at people who do things for the betterment of humanity. Although, I would still probably be picking through links to see what our entertainers were up to. ;)