The Sad Story Behind the Passed-Out Lindsay Lohan Meme
Everyone knows the paparazzi-photo-turned-meme, but few remember the weekend that preceded it.
This Week in 2007 is a weekly column looking back on Lindsay Lohan, the first iPhone, George W. Bush, and everything else we loved about the year 2007.
Ten years before cops found Tiger Woods allegedly passed out behind the wheel, an X17 paparazzi shot an image of Lindsay Lohan sleeping in a car that still makes rounds on the internet today. A wisp of red hair met her open pink lips, and a gray hoodie circled around her milky, makeup-free face. Lindsay's future paramour, Samantha Ronson, extended a helping hand behind her. "SMASHED," blared the New York Post headline, but like many troublesome pop culture images, Lindsay looked beautiful: bare-faced and more genuine than she had appeared since her Mean Girls days.
Fans have since memed the photo into the canon of Hollywood controversies, with one particularly popular image displaying the photo next to Gian Lorenzo Bernini's 1652 statue "The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa." She lays back with her eyes closed and breast out as she connects with the Holy Spirit. Like Lindsay on Memorial Day 2007, she looks unconscious. A statue of Cardinal Federico Cornaro stands over her, pointing an arrow at the half-nude nun. The sexual overtones stem from Teresa's own writing: "In his hands I saw a great golden spear, and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails." The statue and the pap shot are equally pleasurable for the viewer. Both deal with a beautiful woman in her subconscious state; each sums up their respective time.
Read more: How 2007 Became a Meme
Fans may celebrate the photo, but it encapsulates a very bad month in Lindsay's life. She started May 2007 by telling Allure, "It's so weird that I went to rehab. I always said I would die before I went to rehab." Lindsay's big summer film, Georgia Rule, flopped after reports said her "exhaustion" prevented her from showing up to shoots. Instead of returning home to cope, Lindsay crashed in hotels, where she lived throughout the mid-2000s.
Her Memorial Day weekend began on Friday, May 25, with an evening of partying in West Hollywood. In the wee hours of Saturday morning, Lindsay drove her 2005 Mercedes SL-65 into a curb on Sunset Boulevard. Following a second DUI in July, she reached a plea deal on August 23, 2007, agreeing to one day in jail, 10 days of community service, 36 months of probation, and extensive drug counseling.
But before Lindsay copped to her behavior in August, she partied on Sunday May 27 at the Roosevelt Hotel. Once a watering pool for Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra, the Hollywood Boulevard establishment had gone the way of the rest of the boulevard: Reality stars and vagrants now lined its halls that needed a paint job.
Lindsay left the hotel in her now infamous, sleeping car ride with Samantha Ronson. Later that Memorial Day, Lindsay entered the infamous Promises Malibu Center rehab. It would be the second of three rehab stints in 2007.
The debaucherous week has overshadowed all of her other headline-grabbing incidents, because people remember images, not the incidentals of tabloid reports. Lindsay asleep in a car has become the pop culture equivalent of George W. Bush posing in front of a "Mission Accomplishment" sign two months into the lengthy Iraq War. It's a meme that sums up a collective cultural moment with a dark irony. Lindsay looks beautiful, but unlike the holy Saint Teresa, she was far from ecstasy when she went to sleep.