lifestyle

Lindsay Lohan is running for President. And the right thing to do is look away.

It’s funny. But is it? Really?

The pressure-cooker environment of the Hollywood Hills has seen more than one star fall from the sky over the years.

From Whitney Houston to Mark Wahlberg, Alex Baldwin to Charlie Sheen, it seemed that no matter how big a star you were, no one was safe from losing their marbles.

For us suburban folk playing at home, it was invariably a massive shock: there, in plain view, a glossy, polished celeb was behaving badly – just like one of us! Of course, within a few hours the slate would be swept squeaky clean by a genius publicist and all would be forgiven.

And then Twitter was invented.

Charlie Sheen. One of the first public Twitter meltdowns. #Winning.

Officially founded in 2006, Twitter started to seriously attract the Hollywood celebrities in 2007. Unlike the majority of us who sat in front of a patiently flashing cursor workshopping a witty insight (in 140 characters or less), celebrities took to the medium like wildfire. Finally! A chance for them to reveal who they really were, far from the vice-like grip their publicity teams had over what they could say, and to whom. It was a revelation.

Online relationships were forged between celebrities and their fan bases as direct conversations were finally made possible.

Fans delighted in having untouched access into the inner workings of their favourite star’s minds, moods, and mannerisms. But like the story of Icarus, as the heat was turned up, everything begun to come unstuck.

Take a look at some of the Twitter meltdowns (post continues after gallery):

The modern Hollywood meltdown plays out online. In addition to the omnipresent paparazzi loitering around every corner, the gossip columns, the glossy magazines, the reality shows, and the entertainment reporting; there was now hordes of greedy, needy, fans wanting a piece of them online, too.

Twitter, once a welcome instrument for setting the record straight and a mouthpiece directly to their fans, now became a stage in which tantrums were had, secrets were told, and the ugly truth of superstardom revealed. Many of the celebrities – especially the younger ones – were not always in a mentally stable place to be making these kind of statements to their online followers, which often numbered in the millions. But as an unregulated medium, their personal safety didn’t matter.

Case in point:

The iconic shot of Britney shaving her head.

It was these images of Britney that shocked the world – our perfect pop queen was clearly not well. But rather than reach out and ask “Are you OK?” we fanned the flames with endless reporting on her ‘meltdown’.

Britney Spears was lucky. Her meltdown happened in 2007, just as we sat on the cusp of fully-blown addictions with social media. She was spared the opportunity to take to Twitter to tell her side of the story, and yet other stars in the years that have followed have not been so lucky. Not only have they had Twitter available, but Instagram too – a much more destructive medium for, as they say, a picture tells a thousand words.

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Since 2007 we have looked on in shock (and sadly, with a perverse thrill) as stars like Amanda Bynes, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, John Galliano, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Winehouse, and Heidi Montag have taken to their social media accounts to provide us with a play-by-play of their meltdowns.

But one star who continues to shock with her unpredictable behaviour is Lindsay Lohan, who yesterday announced that she would like to run for president. 

In an accompanying Instagram post, Linds uploaded a photo of herself with fellow presidential hopeful Kanye West, with the caption:

These posts come after her Tweeting and Insta-ing about contracting a rare air-borne virus, apparently converting to Islam and repeatedly posting altered images of herself to Instagram, then deleting them.

Of course, our first reaction is to laugh. It’s so hopelessly unrealistic, almost child-like in its delivery, with the reference to Queen Elizabeth a fairytale dream. It’s sweet at best, confused at worst. But with Lindsay’s well-documented foray into drug and alcohol abuse in the past, everyone understood the darker undercurrent of the post: clearly, she is not well.

It’s reminiscent to the scary days of Amanda Bynes. Not unlike Lindsay’s knife photos and increasingly erratic behavior, Amanda too was showing very clear signs of mental illness.

She was donning bedraggled wigs, posting photos of her emaciated figure in filthy bathrooms, and was engaging in wild rants on Twitter accusing her parents of child abuse and the voices in her head.

Amanda Bynes, mid-meltdown: if this was your friend, alarm bells would start ringing. via Twitter.

In the end, Amanda got the help that she needed, and is happily in remission. But what did we do, her fans, her legion of supporters? We laughed.

So perhaps before engaging in the crucifixion of Lindsay online today, take pause to consider why you are doing it. Is it easier to laugh, than to offer help? Is it simpler to write off the sad decline of otherwise bright and talented young stars as just ‘famous person behaviour’, than actually consider the factors that cause the change?

Your actions online are forever.

What legacy do you want to leave?

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