While it is almost certain that both men and women have always been subjected to some form of peer pressure for personal fitness and to conform to a certain physical perfection, there is no doubt that has come to a high point given the constant bombardment of advertisements that we all see in today’s digital lifestyle.
In our lecture with Professor Rebecca Tiger of Middlebury College we spoke about, among many other really interesting and insightful topics, the way that Lindsay Lohan’s drug addiction was represented by various celebrity gossip bloggers, but then also the way that the readers (and commenters) of those blogs reacted as well.
The results were not completely unexpected; many wrote that Lohan should go to rehab and that addicts like her need to be sent to prison and then subsequent rehabilitation programs.
What I found most interesting, however, was that nobody (of at least the posts Professor Tiger pointed out) was the simple fact that Lohan needs to go to prison simply because she did something illegal, regardless of the dangers (perceived dangers?) of drug use. It was almost as if the concept of addiction itself was the criminal act that needed to be corrected. Not the simple (yet somewhat controversial) fact that the drugs she was using were illegal. And, as such, she deserved to go to prison.
This tells me that there is something going on here besides the pure illegal activity that Lohan, or other drug users, behave in.
Perhaps it is jealousy; we look at these celebrities and see that they often get away with all sorts of illegalities that us “regular folks” get away with.
The other answer is more sinister, and it is that we -as a society- have bought into a specific style of self, one that must be adhered to.
In Jeffrey Cohen’s “Monster Theory” he looks to read “cultures through the monsters they engender”. In America, the monsters we have created are the addicts.
Why specifically addicts though? Quite simply, excessive drug and alcohol use will result in a decrease in health. In as such, it deviates from the norm and thus is inexcusable in our society. (This of course ignores the potential racial aspect, but that is for a whole different blog post)
Thus, despite our self-obsessison with the “self” in our neoliberal version of America, we have only adopted the belief that an individual is responsible for his (or her) personal choices. Addicts are responsible for their choices and drug use (which is illegal) is thus not condoned.
Which raises the interesting question of why we insist that these people go to prison, or even further, why they must go to rehab. These are publicly funded rehabilitation center, and gives the indication that then society is at least somewhat responsible.
This is not a completely well thought out post, and I do apologize for that. In a way, that represents the contradictions in our society surrounding drug use, addiction, and the self.