Lindsay Lohan fills cups like double D’s. She’s the new Ann-Margaret, a flashing-eyed temptress, with the kind of self-awareness to make the housepets sweat. She’s got timing as an actress, as Freaky Friday and Mean Girls attest. But damn it if her transformation from one-to-ten tweener starlet into certified twenty freak machine is askew from discernable talent and parallel to purity. None of this bodes well for Hilary Duff. For a time quite infamously neck and neck with Lohan – cue kooky “E! News Live” fodder of stage mothers egging opposing cars and hating on their girls’ chinchillas – Duff lately has become the white toast foot patrol to her peer’s fiery salsa Rolls. If Lindsay’s the new Ann-Margaret, Hilary’s this year’s Melissa Joan Hart. It’s the sad ducket truth, even amidst the fog of FCC violations and goody-two-shoesness: We want a lady in the street but a freak in the bed.
Ludicrous? Of course! But as an indicator of 21st century culture’s jaggedly zagging EKG, this shit’s fascinating. Lohan’s flash flood development has ushered in a further constriction of the bizarro teen celeb algorithm. Like phenoms getting drafted right outta high school, the ten-day waiting period has essentially been waived. The Olsens were the last to enjoy such a grace period, even if the leer over their pending legalization grows more shrill each day. No, the relative deference that used to be afforded has been reported missing, in favor of a constricted theorem coldly calculated by these new tweener types and their respective spheres of handlers. Make no mistake – they know what they’re doing. And they learned it all from the Britney version.
Remember the late ’90s, and the masterful tease crafted by Spears and her people? That genius mixture of sweet and tart wasn’t new. But it was expertly rolled out, and acted as a manual for a new generation of hopefuls and their attendant stage parents. However, like any second version, the new model born was streamlined and cold, built from pleasure parts for the business of now. More tart than sweet, this T1000 starlet controlled her own levers of exposure – what was seen and not seen – like never before. And, more often than not, what was seen was more than not. Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets. And little man, little Lola wants you. With a few well-timed roles and a few more low-cut dresses, Lohan burst out of the Disney ghetto and into the golden clamoring limelight. To the Blogosphere, and beyond!
Duff didn’t see it coming. Despite a successful album (!) and the cute-enough Lizzie McGuire Movie, she was puttering along on milquetoast vapor while her competition nodded drolly on ‘SNL’. Maybe she was still F’d up over that tow-headed android Aaron Carter, who knows. The point is that Duff’s model for success has only reached as far as nice. It’s underestimated pop culture’s demand for – however unfortunately – fresh boob content. In short, she’s so yesterday. Spears, on the other hand, did recognize this contortion of the teen ta ta bell curve; teen-pop contemporary Christina Aguilera noticed it, too. However, neither handled their ramp-up successfully. Aguilera’s dirty transformation was an arguable success, if you use Li’l Kim as the ideal. But Britney unquestionably overshot her Southern belle sweetness, retreating in little over a year from Platinum darling status into a reclusive world of Juicys and cigarettes. She’s now a toxic shock butterfly, clipped and chastened by younger, wiser filly cheese. Turns out those career crossroads can be a real bitch to navigate.
Like poor Lenny Kravitz, Britney Spears has squandered her powers of reinvention, and is left with only the husk of celebrity with which to make a dime. It’s a surreal life, but one that was created concurrently with the fabulosity, waiting in a steamer trunk below for the bling to tarnish. (It happened to J-Lo, too.) Lohan’s fatuous overexposure flirts constantly with such an implosion – she doesn’t have enough on her CV for it not to. But in this New Model Girl, there seems to be an allowance for such a backlash, a sexy Sansabelt that’ll bounce the naysayers back behind police lines. Britney’s public persona might’ve been a whipped cream bikini, but at least it was sweet. Lohan’s look is one of perpetual sloe-eyed bewilderment. “I don’t know where these things came from, either,” she winks. “Let me just undo this button.” As her career has been buoyed more by such a stance than any perception of skill – as actress, comedienne, singer, whatever – it’s likely she’ll continue as the prime apple of persnickety eyes, nip slip watchers and “Celebrities Uncensored”, and somehow make it through the goofy red carpet gauntlet unscathed. It’s a safe bet – she won’t be joining Britney in the center square anytime soon.