Yesterday was a great day for Paris Jackson, who dropped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show to discuss her late father, quirks and all. The interview provided insight into the life of a young girl who’s suffered great tragedy and somehow managed to maintain a sense of normalcy. Also scheduled for the program that day was Lindsay Lohan, who dropped out of the taping at the last minute. The missed interview was yet another down in a long string of ups and downs for Lohan, who found fame (in 1998’s The Parent Trap) around the same age Jackson is now. In that light, it’s a sad thing to consider what has become of the once promising actress in the last 13 years. How did she go from poised preteen to a Playboy bunny grasping for (and once again bobbling) her last chance at relevance? And what was the point of it all?
The Ellen interview could have been a bounce back for Lohan, who has been personally and professionally buoyed in recent weeks. Not only is she on the road to sorting out her legal issues, but it seemed like the buzz around the Playboy spread could have fostered a career boost in the tradition of Drew Barrymore or Kim Kardashian. For the first time in a long time, she was receiving attention for something other than her drug addiction and/or unhealthy romantic entanglements. Yes, Playboy, is a nudie mag, but it’s the carefully controlled, artfully airbrushed kind that has shown many notable names, from the Real Housewives to Lohan’s icon Marilyn Monroe (on whom she styled her spread), in its pages. Now that Lohan flaked on the Ellen taping — a prime promotional opportunity — could all this potential be wasted?
It seemed like Lohan was taking back control of her life. If nothing else, Ellen would have been her first chance in years to tell her side of the story. By missing her plane from Hawaii, she forfeited that luxury. It’s indicative of Lohan’s life that something so personal and frivolous as a vacation was the cause of yet another professional misstep. As early as 2006, Lohan became known as an undependable party girl, setting the wheels spinning on her very real, very current inability to hold onto a role. In another 13 years’ time, you have to wonder if she’ll be asking herself, “Was it worth it? Was any of it worth it?”
Perhaps what’s at the core of this issue is the fact that Lohan never had control over her life in the first place. It’s interesting that on the show, Jackson discussed her father’s insistence that she and her siblings wear masks in public. She admitted it was “weird,” but qualified, “I kind of realized the older I got, like, he only tried to protect us.” Weird or not, Michael Jackson exercised certain controls over his children to keep them away from the public eye and give them as average a childhood as possible. This cannot be said of Dina and Michael Lohan. They thrust their baby into the spotlight when she was 3 years old and never looked back, idly watching as she moved to the Chateau Marmont at 16, counting their money even as she crippled her career, and — seeing Lindsay’s prospects shrivel — sought out their own fame in reality shows and tabloid sellouts. Lohan couldn’t regain control over her life because she never had it to begin with.
There’s no telling what will become of Paris Jackson. She’s just at the start of her journey — whether it includes fame or not. For Lohan, however, this may have been just another Sisyphean slog up the hill of her increasingly depressing life.
What do you think, PopWatchers? Was Lohan’s Ellen flake out that big a deal? After the Playboy leak, did she miss a critical chance to drum up interest and magazine sales that could have helped her career? When it comes down to it, do you think she will ever (or can ever) get it together?