I overheard a group of guys drooling over the fact that Lindsay Lohan posed nude for a recreation of Marilyn Monroe's famed "Last Sitting" with the very same photographer, Bert Stern. Out of catty curiosity and artistic indulgence, I pulled up New York magazine's Web site where the images are posted, thinking I'd find something to make me jealous. However, when I actually got through the gallery, I was utterly appalled.
I won't sugarcoat the facts. Lohan's connect-the-dot freckled and leathery skin, disproportionately large breasts, and pouty grimace make for a depressing recreation. Throw a moppy blonde wig on top and you have a dumpy Marilyn that makes Courtney Love look attractive in comparison. Perhaps only one or two photos do justice to both the iconic Monroe and the marginally-creative Lohan.
Granted, the shoot was not intended to be a verbatim revising of the famed last sitting as much as an allegory to the momentous artistic achievement by Stern. Stern admitted that he fancies bad girls and tabloid queens that have historically panned out to women in their decline. Monroe was found dead less than six weeks after her shoot with Stern. Many would argue that in modern times Lohan, who has three stints in rehab under her belt, seems to be taking that turn herself. Her participation in the shoot has, at least for me, started the countdown.
Yet even in her decline, those final images of Monroe are powerful enough that 50 years later they still draw tears from people who never knew Norma Jeane at all. Lohan's revisiting of that timeless shoot fell far from the awe-inspiring images Stern elicited in 1962.
My problem with this sad attempt at recreating history is that everyone aspires to be Marilyn Monroe. Year after year, another celebrity dons a blonde bob and feathered black eyeliner, yet no one tries to set that standard herself for the 21st century. Monroe possessed every nuance of sexiness from novel charm to unadulterated, dirty sex appeal, in addition to her brilliantly disguised wit and innocent humor. Looking at voyeuristic images of Monroe from shoots like Stern's final sitting is like staring at heaven through a keyhole.
While freckled skin and wigs don't make for a bombshell Monroe, they do keep her imitator, Miss Lohan, human. In that respect only, I'd say this modern shoot comes close to touching the original. Stern drew out the humanity of both women; the fading (and at the time severely drunk) Monroe and the seemingly awkward, over-baked, under-fed Lohan. I'd be lying if I said Lohan isn't beautiful in her own right and as much as I bite my tongue, I'll admit that she's better than this sad shoot. Like many perfectly styled and sculpted celebrities, she has the potential to be the next Monroe. But until she and all the other impersonators stop backtracking and find that compromise between sex appeal and the things that make them human, we may never see another Norma Jeane.
Kelly Ernst is a senior communication major who is beautiful in her own, special way.