FANTASTIC VOYAGE

Can Lindsay Lohan Be Great Again?

In the wake of her bizarre pro-Turkey agitprop, the ‘Mean Girls’ star is trying to mount a comeback.

An iconic scene in Mean Girls involves girl-world newbie Cady Heron’s introduction to the perils of the three-way call. But while getting verbally gang-banged by two plastics might be the stuff that early Aughts nightmares are made of, 2017 Lindsay Lohan is facing an even scarier predicament: Nobody is picking up the phone.

In the pantheon of former It Girls, no female celebrity is more primed for a comeback than Lindsay Lohan, aka LiLo. First off, and perhaps most importantly, she’s universally beloved. Like good Disney Channel content and first-generation iPhones, LiLo triggers a deep, burning nostalgia in a generation of girls who grew up looking around every corner for their Parent Trap twin. When Lohan was good, she was very good—plus, she pulled off an impressive British accent for an 11-year-old. Lindsay managed to make horrible-sounding projects palatable (I’m looking at you, Herbie: Fully Loaded). Her tireless appeal even allowed for a rare crossover from tween acting success to teen music stardom. Lohan’s 2004 album, Speak, peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, and sold more than 200,000 copies during its debut week. Not bad for a record Slant magazine called “one giant market-researched disaster.”

If Lohan’s appeal and acting talent weren’t enough to fast track her comeback application, there’s also the matter of our complicity. Like her contemporaries Paris Hilton and Mischa Barton, Lohan was the product of a rabid tabloid era fueled by hard-partying young stars and a voyeuristic public that probably should have known better. As Lohan headlines increasingly read like cries for help, Us Weekly subscribers undoubtedly started to get the sense that the once-limitless redhead had been irrevocably exploited. After all, the Lindsay Lohan story isn’t lacking for pathos—complete with early-onset stardom and a fame-hungry father who, to borrow a trope, seemed to have gotten into the parenting gig for all the wrong reasons.

When Michael Lohan isn’t being arrested or trying to make money off his famous progeny, he has a penchant for talking to the press about all things Lindsay. Back in 2010, the actress was on a bad-behavior bender that included Twitter meltdowns, rehab, and reported financial ruin. Sensing some sort of opportunity for himself, Michael Lohan sought to establish a conservatorship over Lindsay a la Britney Spears. While Lohan undoubtedly needed a life vest, many observers—and Lindsay Lohan herself—wondered if Michael was the man for the job. According to a 2010 article from The Daily Beast, a confrontation with her often-absentee father caused the actress to tweet, “let’s not forget, that my father KIDNAPPED me from a COURT ROOM when i was 4 years old and is CRAZY.”

While Lindsay Lohan could have benefited from some parental guidance or at the very least a pal, it’s impossible not to mention the role that constant surveillance and tabloid attention played on her psyche. After all, the star’s frequently cited paranoia—examples include allegedly accusing Nobu chefs of spiking her food with nuts, which she is not actually allergic to—is a fairly reasonable response to being followed, monitored, and photographed 24/7 since pubescence. Lohan may have said it best herself in “Rumors,” the first and only single off of Speak: “I’m tired of rumors starting / I’m sick of being followed / I’m tired of people lying /Sayin’ what they want about me / Why can’t they back up off me / Why can’t they let me live.”

Unfortunately, the life that Lohan would like to live is frequently undermined by Lindsay Lohan herself. In November 2014, Radar Online wrote that Lindsay was “Planning [a] Major ‘Movie Star’ Comeback.” But in March 2014, Lindsay Lohan left a Scattergories score sheet containing the names of her alleged past sexual partners in a hotel lobby. In November 2015, People magazine asked, “Is Lindsay Lohan Making a Comeback?” Also in 2015, Lohan dressed up as Sharon Tate on Charles Manson’s birthday, announced that she “may run for president,” and wore white to another woman’s wedding. But nothing was sadder than 2016’s proclamation, courtesy of Page Six, that Lohan had moved to London to be with her boyfriend Egor Tarabasov, was cutting out negative influences from her life and “aiming for a comeback.”

In an earlier Page Six article, Michael Lohan had popped up to pronounce that “Egor is not a good influence; he’s a great influence.” This is the rare instance where a father’s approval reads like a red flag, and rightly so. Tarabasov quickly became a central figure in one of the biggest Lohan tragedies yet, when the star was taped fighting with her fiancé and accusing him of trying to strangle and kill her. In an August 2016 interview, she accused her ex of assaulting her on multiple occasions, drawing a parallel between the Russian rich kid and her abusive dad, saying, “I’ve become my mother.”

There’s no right way to come back from an abusive ex, and Lindsay Lohan should never be shamed for her coping mechanisms. That being said, there is such a thing as being non-judgmentally confused, as many of us were when Lohan started carrying around a Quran and spouting off Turkish propaganda. But converted Muslim or not, Lohan doesn’t seem to be letting her newfound spirituality interfere with her pop culture comeback. After all, nowhere in the Quran does it say that believers can’t also be working on a Mean Girls 2 treatment. Lohan’s latest bid for relevancy is a new reality-TV show called The Anti-Social Network, which Vanity Fair reports “is being shopped around to various networks.”

The Anti-Social Network trailer opens with an “I’m back bitches”—not the first time Lindsay’s been compared to Britney Spears (even in this article!) and probably not the last. The star then goes on to explain that, “I love social media. I am social media!” And according to social media’s biggest fan/the human embodiment of social media itself, the cardinal rule of social media is never to leave your phone just lying around. Because, as the old adage goes, if you leave your phone unattended, Lindsay Lohan will apparate into your apartment and play an elaborate prank on you.

The show consists of Lohan taking charge of contestants’ accounts and issuing increasingly mortifying challenges. Full disclosure: I would watch this show. Unfortunately, I may never get the chance to—Lohan shared the trailer on Twitter, asking fans to retweet “if you are excited about my new show.” So far, she has 2.3K retweets, putting her somewhere between a really well-read New York Times article and a really great Ken Bone meme.

In addition to ruling over all social media, Lohan has announced a new fashion line, also via Twitter. The biggest obstacle facing all of these ventures is that Lohan’s brand is fairly toxic anywhere outside of Turkey. That’s why, presumably, her Mean Girls 2 treatment hasn’t gone anywhere, and why Disney hasn’t signed her up for that live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. It’s not that Lohan isn’t talented, or that her return to the big screen wouldn’t get nostalgic millennials racing to the box office. It’s just that a Lindsay Lohan comeback has become The Boy Who Cried Wolf of Hollywood fairytales. Still, in a strange, ever-changing world where Apprentice hosts become president and Tyra Banks is back on ANTM, why not give Lindsay Lohan one last chance?