Lindsay Lohan: Sex trade savior

Has celebrity humanitarianism hit its nadir?

By Mary Elizabeth Williams
Published January 12, 2010 2:13PM (EST)

Last month, Lindsay Lohan tweeted disingenuously about "Over *40 children saved* so far...... Within one day's work...... This is what life is about..... Doing THIS is a life worth living!!!" before she had even arrived in India to make a BBC3 documentary on human trafficking. Now, the first footage from her week-long sojourn has hit YouTube, and you'll be relieved to know, she did finally make it to the country.

Normally, watching the star of "I Know Who Killed Me" looking all wide-eyed and explaining the slave trade -- "The parents aren't necessarily in the wrong, the children are obviously not in the wrong, um, the traffickers are the ones in the wrong" -- would be like handing me a loaded shotgun and a barrel full of fish. A part-time fashion entrepreneur reinventing herself as a humanitarian? A network using a disaster-prone starlet to peddle a program no one might otherwise watch?  And all in the name of quelling exploitation? OK, that is pretty rich.

But I'm not yet so jaded that I can't see that an effort that raises awareness of a global epidemic – even one that employs a crazy hot chick – is still an effort. I doubt  girls being sold into prostitution give a rip about Lindsay's hood and leggings if that's what calls attention to their plight.  And while I'm pretty sure I can smell the self-promotion from here, I don't think a history of driving one's car into trees forever shuts one out from personal growth. Her mother Dina yesterday told People that Lindsay "continues to move forward in a positive direction."

Sounds like a good plan for everybody.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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