© Leeloomultipass | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
I felt a little sick to my stomach when the wax model image of Lindsay Lohan in prison garb flashed on the TV, with a ten-year-old girl posing adoringly next to it. What a Kodak moment for her proud mama. Lindsay and the little girl even had matching alcohol-detecting ankle bracelets.
And yet, it’s hard to look away.
I muster my will power and flip the channel quickly. There was a report about Britney Spears declaring, “Now I’m a Brainiac!” while playing topless truth or dare with some college kids.
I feel dirty, and not in a good way.
I turn on my computer to learn that Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s recent antics have inspired a new porn movie: “Paris and Nicole Go to Jail.”
Their parents must be so proud.
I’m repulsed by these girls on so many levels; I hardly know where to start. Yet I’m attracted to them too, like a train wreck, I can’t look away. Their dalliances with sex, drugs, high-speed car chases, fame, millionaire boy toys and fashionable clothing are more over-the-top than any plotlines on Days of Our Lives, yet still they hold my interest.
What kind of a person am I that I know more about Paris and Nicole than I do about Hezbollah and Darfur?
Why are these girls and their predictable plotline patterns –watch how the mighty fall, rise, forget to put on their panties, and fall again–so fascinating? Little girls may be in danger of wanting to grow up to be like Lindsey and Britney, but I certainly don’t look up to them. I mean my gosh, they’re so skinny I could crush them both with my left elbow.
So why do I continue to follow their hijinks? Is it some kind of attraction repulsion compulsion syndrome, or is there actually a lesson to be learned from their stories?
I suppose on some level their screw-ups make me feel better about myself. As Nora Ephron wrote, “How fabulous to look at those Hilton parents and say to yourself, well, whatever I did as a parent, it wasn’t that. Whatever my regrets, whatever my failings, whatever my ineptness, however much I worry that I forgot to tell my kids about how to use the soup spoon, at least I am not on the phone to Barbara Walters in the middle of the night trying to negotiate a television appearance for my daughter on the occasion of her release from prison.”
My friend Louise thinks we should all stop reading the tabloids and watching the Rehab All Star News because our interest in girls behaving badly actually causes it. “I mean, how shocked are you that these girls whose every body part, boyfriend, and bad hair day has been publicly debated, scrutinized and drooled over have a few issues? We should all just leave them alone.”
If only I could, but their stories are hard to avoid and a lot easier to digest than the rest of the news. Perhaps that’s the real reason for the explosion of gossip on TV, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet: real life is too scary to deal with right now. Paris, Lindsay, Britney, Nicole–they’re just scary enough.
I may feel dirty, but I’m not above a shameless plug. If you’d like your daughters to read about some positive role models for a change, check out Leslie’s new children’s book, “Women in Charge” (Child’s World 2007) available at LeslieDinaberg.com
Originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on August 10, 2007.