The release of The New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears on HULU has sparked a public acknowledgement of the way celebrities deal with difficult issues such as addiction and mental illness and how the public discourse around these moments used to tilt so strongly toward negativity.
Anna Nicole Smith died in 2007 from an overdose of prescription medication, all the while being lambasted by the media for her previous addiction problems. Britney Spears ended up having a very publicly advertised mental breakdown which lead to the now-infamous conservatorship.
And Lindsay Lohan was publicly berated by people ranging from Oprah to David Letterman. Letterman's clip from 2013 in particular is receiving attention for how particularly nasty it was.
More than one person has pointed out the misogyny in who became public punching bags and who didn't.
This Lindsay Lohan interview on David Letterman in 2013 is horrifying to watch now. https://t.co/lZxKVvbVB0— 𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐲 𝐭𝐚𝐲𝐥𝐨𝐫 (@𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐲 𝐭𝐚𝐲𝐥𝐨𝐫)1613242068.0
In the segment from his late-night talk show, Letterman continually pressed Lohan to reveal more and more details about her rehabilitation plans after blindsiding her with the question about going to rehab.
Letterman also used the actress's stints in rehab as the punchline for several jokes, with Lohan growing visibly more and more uncomfortable.
The whole situation, says the internet, was a recipe for Lohan being triggered.
@treytylor This gives off the same vibes. I don’t know how he got away with it . https://t.co/wT8oJEySCJ— Ryan Cortez (@Ryan Cortez)1613248708.0
@treytylor This is vile on so many levels. The misogyny. The blindsiding. The stigma of addiction & rehab. The hypo… https://t.co/Qdbdcke9a1— Frank Costa (@Frank Costa)1613247256.0
Please don't do this to someone in person or in front of an audience. We don't have to make it harder for people to… https://t.co/YXWJsiAqPO— Shephali Bhatt (@Shephali Bhatt)1613279617.0
David letterman was so DISGUSTING to Lindsay Lohan here! And everyone laughing at her for going to rehab. Nuts to s… https://t.co/nfJR6evsQW— DanielNewmaη (@DanielNewmaη)1613270409.0
Lohan also protests Letterman's jokes and appears to tear up at the end.
In a longer, unedited version of the clip, Lohan tears up when Letterman thanks her for being brave enough to come onto national television to talk about her problems.
@treytylor People are pointing out that Letterman made Lohan cry, but OP’s clip edits out what he said that made he… https://t.co/9URZgrilhS— polythene spam (@polythene spam)1613290851.0
However, many folks pointed out Letterman humiliated many women on his show, including Janet Jackson after her 2004 wardrobe malfunction during the Super Bowl.
@Dizzleman1008 @treytylor David Letterman was like this with almost everyone that he hosted, he sort of humiliated… https://t.co/es2pf9yPfR— Diego B (@Diego B)1613329284.0
I have.... so much respect for how Lindsay Lohan handled Letterman's blatant attempt to blind-side and humiliate he… https://t.co/pn9E2ecG4X— ella dawson (@ella dawson)1613256889.0
My sister ended up in the same program as Lindsay Lohan at the same time on financial aid. No one I respect would l… https://t.co/MJttZM4iRc— Lindsey Boylan (@Lindsey Boylan)1613266808.0
There is only one professional on that stage and it’s Lindsay Lohan. https://t.co/9lFe7IkKEy— will (@will)1613248048.0
David Letterman owes Lindsay Lohan an APOLOGY LIKE YESTERDAY. This is disgusting. I’m tired of interviewers weaponi… https://t.co/Ks9ARrmMjS— Rachel Leyco (@Rachel Leyco)1613253232.0
Lohan's addictions and vices were major topics of conversation throughout mid-2000s celebrity culture.
Other celebrities participated in harassing her. For example, P!nk's music video for her song "Stupid Girls" featured a grossly exaggerated version of Lohan driving a car into various pedestrians, and also makes fun of several other prominent celebrities of the era such as Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton.
i love britney, i support britney, and im so glad people are giving her the love she deserves. now let’s reflect… https://t.co/QNdnRE0OvC— the masked katie (@the masked katie)1613310302.0
@treytylor Lindsay Lohan is alive and well. That’s the best revenge she could give to all the naysayers who aimed f… https://t.co/pMWDCm8FXz— I never said that (@I never said that)1613260049.0
I’m less horrified by that Letterman/Lindsay Lohan exchange than I am astonished by the way she took control of it.… https://t.co/dvZqGT2RuL— Stephanie Zacharek (@Stephanie Zacharek)1613275754.0
Remember when Lindsay Lohan was almost put in a conservatorship? #FramingBritneySpears https://t.co/WgmFSnkkys— 💎 (@💎)1613247947.0
we all owe lindsay lohan an apology https://t.co/cxAehpZgtf— sleepy joe more like sleepy jayn (@sleepy joe more like sleepy jayn)1613253402.0
Humans are forever retrospectively looking back at their former behaviors and cringing. In the new era of the United States which we are entering, where states like Oregon have de-criminalized all drug offenses and offer rehabilitation services as an alternative, re-examining this period in shaming people for their addictions makes sense.
Hopefully, humans learn compassion and empathy from this.