Lindsay Lohan’s slow meltdown: It’s all about Dad

The actress's painful public drama is a lesson in how hard it can be to grow up without a good man in your life

Topics: Lindsay Lohan, Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

Lindsay Lohan's slow meltdown: It's all about Dad

How much longer can the slow-motion train wreck that is Lindsay Lohan keep going? Lohan, a young woman whose main fame these days seems to arise from her Twitter feuds, has finally managed to chip away almost every other aspect of her persona — once promising actress, sexy starlet, aspiring singer — to assume the mantle of America’s most shining example of father-daughter dysfunction.

Many of us who had shitty dads — and folks, we are legion — can’t help feeling a little heartsick watching Lohan take that deep, instantly recognizable anguish and act it out on such an epic scale. Because while lots of us have baggage, few have made a music video called “Confessions of a Broken Heart” about it. Or tweeted about being “kidnapped” by a “crazy” person. Lohan’s most recent publicity stunt/cry for help came earlier this week, via an eyebrow-raising photo shoot for Tyler Shields that features the actress cavorting in underwear against a bloodstained backdrop, brandishing a gun, and posing with her stilettoed feet far above her pretty head. And just in case you might somehow accidentally not see that last provocative image everywhere, it’s now Lohan’s Twitter page background.

It’s generally assumed that mothers are the No. 1 cause of screwed-up behavior. Thanks, Freud! And judging from her public persona, it’s unlikely Dina Lohan is the cream of the maternal crop. Shoddy fathers, similarly, take many forms — I’ll take my absent, indifferent one over an abusive one any day. But the Lohan family drama is, more than anything, a potent and painful example of what can happen to girls without good men in their lives. Michael Lohan, whose most recent stunt was to call police to Lindsay’s home for a “welfare check” on her sister Ali, seems to take crappy parenting to a level others can only aspire to. It is any wonder his daughter is appearing in guns and blood photo shoots?

You Might Also Like

Of course, it’s possible to grow up with a less than stellar father and still remember to wear underpants and not drive off the sidewalk. You might wind up an Oscar-winning actress  or the president of the United States. And there are probably all sorts of other reasons Lohan, who refers to Michael as her “ex”-father, is the hot mess she is today. She may not have been dealt a bumper crop of mentally healthy, substance-abuse-resistant genes from the get-go. She had wealth, notoriety and beauty when most kids her age were picking pimples in public school.

But the thing Lohan herself seems to keep circling back to is her dad. Despite her ongoing insistence that she wants no part of Michael, she seems incapable of suspending their very public dialogue. Oh, Michael Lohan, you compulsively Twittering, limelight-hogging ex-con, you, what have you done? Dogged by paparazzi, scrutinized at every turn, your daughter is far from being in the optimum place to work out the considerable issues you seem to be making your life’s work to shove on her. Instead, you keep bringing it, fuck-up-style – tweeting to Lindsay (whose famous face graces your Twitter page) that “Ur junkie assistant is causing a lot of problems for you.” Yeaaaah, it’s her assistant who’s a problem.

That’s why, awful as the whole shabby spectacle is, we keep watching. We know that girl. We’ve been that girl. I think of my own daughters, how lucky they are to have a devoted dad who adores them, and how much harder the road was for me because I didn’t. And I look at the image from her recent photo shoot — the one of Lohan with a gun aimed squarely between her vacant eyes — and think how many of us understand, that’s exactly what it’s like when your parent bombs out. You’re vulnerable and numb at the same time. You feel everything — and nothing. As a friend whose own father was a manipulative, alcoholic jerk says, “You know how much I’ve acted out – and I’m not even rich and famous.”

Lohan is a grown woman and responsible for making her own way in life now. Yet the actress, who was recently drop-kicked from the cast of “The Other Side” for allegedly not being “bankable” and may be headed to the slammer for violating her DUI parole, still managed to take time from her roster of personal disasters to tell reporters this week, “No one should ever have to worry about their father saying those things publicly against them.” It’s not impossible she might just evolve into an amazing, powerful woman. Drew Barrymore, another wild child whose father was no prize, managed to turn her life around while still in her early 20s, and it’s precisely that rough patch that seems to have deepened her subsequent work.

Having a bad dad is like being born with a missing limb. It doesn’t have to handicap you, but it will always define you. It makes you keep reaching for that phantom, even when you know there’s nothing there. So if you ever need a reminder of the power of a man in a girl’s life, if you question whether or not fathers matter, take a good look at the girl with the gun to her head. Because she’s everywhere.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>