Daniel Spielberger created a popular Tumblr page that pushed him in and out of Lindsay Lohan fandom.
Four months ago, I woke up from a nap to countless texts and Facebook messages about Lindsay Lohan’s recent engagement to a 22-year-old Russian oligarch. Overwhelmed, I posted a Facebook status:
My journey to becoming a Lindsay Lohan scholar of sorts began in the fall of 2011. I was drunk and started waxing poetic about what Lindsay “really meant” to a few of my friends. I learned one of them had a pop-culture-themed Tumblr. Inspired, I chugged another beer and created my own Tumblr account: lindsaylohanslastfan.tumblr.com. Originally, the blog was intended to be a satire of stan culture, showcasing how one “last fan” could furiously and irrationally defend Lindsay through courtroom drama, nightclub brawls, and relapses. Over the course of the Tumblr’s existence, however, my project transformed into what I came to think of as a cyber-drag performance. I developed a character, a lonely and confused adolescent girl who would obsessively Google Lohan and had memorized her entire film oeuvre. She would be Lindsay Lohan’s Last Fan. It was only a matter of time before my friends and family started to constantly update me with the latest news regarding the star.
Throughout the first decade of the 2000s, Lindsay transformed from a successful child actress to a tragic hero of the tabloid-industrial complex. Her narrative—filled with public drug and alcohol use, indecent exposure, and a series of failed comebacks—was heading towards the seemingly inevitable, unfortunate TMZ headline, which would be followed by collective thoughts of what society could have done to save her. While gossip bloggers and comedians took pleasure in this textbook case of schadenfreude, Lindsay Lohan’s Last Fan took an alternative route, projecting her own life onto the starlet’s in dark, confessional memes. The Last Fan interpreted each new scandal as another example of how she and Lindsay were two lost souls, moving parallel in an increasingly pixelated and alienating universe. Lindsay was dropped from a failed Linda Lovelace biopic because she was deemed “impossible to insure”; the Last Fan was grounded by #Daddy for refusing to take her Adderall prescription. I boiled each meme down to a clear formula.
During the premiere of the critically panned Elizabeth Taylor biopic on Lifetime, Liz & Dick (2012), I live-memed the Last Fan’s reactions to the movie.
A couple of days later, I saw that BuzzFeed had used some of my memes in their article “21 People Who Genuinely Loved ‘Liz And Dick.’” The Last Fan’s confessions were sandwiched between tweets of people who genuinely enjoyed the film. My work was being received as sincere; I was just another voice screaming amongst a sea of fans. At that moment, I felt that I had lost control of my creation, and, no matter what I did, that my intent would be misread and that my cyber-drag was a failure.
I have long been fascinated with drag performance as a form of empowerment. Once, during a 3 am drag rendition of Beyoncé’s “End of Time” at a gay bar in Portland, right when the song was hitting its triumphant climax, the performer’s wig fell off. She then proceeded to pick up the wig, throw it at the audience, and march off the stage in her six-inch heels as we all screamed, YASSSS. It was the best piece of theater I have ever seen. Great drag is an exaggerated presentation of gender that is so powerful and liberating that it allows the crowd to collectively escape socially imposed boundaries and experience a fleeting moment of transcendence.
The Last Fan was my escape, but for everyone in the crowd, it was just more darkness. While that queen’s Beyoncé signified defiance, the Last Fan was being defeated by #Daddy, vodka Red Bulls, and that crush who never texted you back. Nobody ever cheered me on; they just reblogged my memes, simply adding “:(” or “same” as a caption. Over time, I accumulated a large following, mostly blogs devoted to other Camp icons (Anna Nicole Smith, Lana Del Rey, Britney Spears) and actual Lindsay fans. Amongst this community, I was the enfant terrible; my memes were deemed messier, more personal and reflective.
By the summer of 2014, Lindsay’s narrative had stalled. She spent most of her days either tanning on a yacht in Ibiza or tanning on a yacht in Cannes; she was another siren trapped in the Mediterranean Sea. Without more drama, the Last Fan had nothing to work with. That August, I wrote a formal farewell post to end the project. One of my last memes was a declaration of what seemed to be some sort of guiding principle in both Lindsay’s and her Last Fan’s life: Freedom is being in charge of your own destruction.
Lindsay in a Chelsea nightclub, trashed and blurry-eyed, looking at her socialite friend’s cell-phone camera, knowing that she is going to be late to court-mandated community service the following day; the Last Fan in her suburban bedroom, writing another epic poem to Lindsay as #Daddy shouts: COME DOWNSTAIRS. I was still on Tumblr after creating thousands of memes. And yet there was never a real sense of closure.
Months after my Facebook status declaring, “I don’t care about Lindsay Lohan anymore,” I went on my Instagram Explore feed and saw that my Freedom image had been recycled into a another self-deprecating meme about two millennial staples of indulgence—leftover pizza and La Croix sparkling water.
At first, I was upset that someone had blatantly repurposed my art. But then I realized that this was the ideal conclusion. Thousands of reblogs later, my memes were no longer about Lindsay or even the Last Fan’s devotion to her. They had become more ambiguous, signifying collective and contradictory emotions—comedy, tragedy, sincerity, and irony—that transcended the Last Fan’s initial obsession. My content had taken on a life of its own.
Lindsay’s engagement to the oligarch might still be on. The Last Fan has logged off and gone downstairs to reconcile with #Daddy. And me, well I want nothing more than a cold can of La Croix. Freedom.