The Free Britney Spears documentary has clearly sparked multiple reckonings over the way we as a culture treat young famous women, especially in tabloids and interviews with powerful media figures. The latest resurfaced video to make people cringe: a 2013 late-night chat between David Letterman and Lindsay Lohan.
At the time, Lohan was preparing to check herself in for a 90-day court-appointed rehab session in lieu of jail time for two misdemeanor convictions and a shoplifting probation violation. Sometime before her stint, she appeared on The Late Show to promote her upcoming project, Scary Movie 5, and even make a few self-deprecating jokes. Things started off well. She tells Letterman she intended to come out in a dress with the tag still on and attempted to “steal” Letterman’s mug. Then, Letterman moved on to the subject of rehab.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in rehab?” the host, who was in his 60s at the time, asks a 27-year-old Lohan as if she would be in his studio if that were the case. At first, Lohan cooly answers his questions, but without the lighthearted flare from the beginning of the interview. How long will she be in rehab? “Three months.” How many times has she been in rehab? “Several.” However, when he starts to question what she will technically be in rehab for, Lohan tells the audience, “We didn’t discuss this in the pre-interview.”
Lohan then tries to be diplomatic and move on. “I think, to be honest, I’m happiest when I’m working and the healthiest and I think this is an opportunity for me to focus on what I love and I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I think it’s a blessing,” she said.
However, it seems Letterman was gunning for some kind of scoop. “Do you have addiction problems,” he prods. That’s when Lohan tells him he sounds like “Dr. Phil.”
The interview goes on and on like that, even when Lohan points out that they’re meant to be talking about her project, Scary Movie 5. At one point, she grabs a list of Letterman’s questions and jokes and is clearly unhappy with what she sees. “You can’t make a joke of it,” she tells Letterman. “That’s so mean.”
The Face Magazine editor Trey Taylor unearthed the eight-year-old interview on February 13, tweeting, “This Lindsay Lohan interview on David Letterman in 2013 is horrifying to watch now.” The full interview can be viewed here.
Many on Twitter agreed. “This clip is horrifying in so many ways but one thing that stuck out to me is it is the perfect example of when women try to politely advocate for themselves in a way that society would hopefully deem “not bitchy “ and yet they get steamrolled and ignored,” one user replied to the clip.
“This is vile on so many levels,” another wrote. “The misogyny. The blindsiding. The stigma of addiction & rehab. The hypocrisy of wanting people to recover, but then judging how they choose do so. I hope Lindsay Lohan knows how loved she is. The world has treated her and many others so unfairly.”
Some Twitter users pointed to other uncomfortable Letterman interviews with artists like Cher and Janet Jackson, while many contrasted the late-night host with Craig Ferguson, who has been praised for an old monologue defending Britney Spears.
Towards the end of this interview, Lohan begins to look visibly shaken. “She’s tearing up a bit,” Letterman shares with the audience. “God bless you.” In the full video, as opposed to the cut-down clip shared by Taylor, it’s unclear if she is tearing up after the stress of the interview or in response to Letterman complimenting her on having “enough spine, enough sense of yourself, enough poise” to do the interview, but it doesn’t really matter.
Like Spears, whose past interviews with Diane Sawyer and Matt Lauer have gone viral over the past week, Lohan was repeatedly berated and ignored for our entertainment. She deserved better.