Maybe it's time to lay off Lindsay Lohan?
The howls of derision began in the preceding week as the reviews hit the presses; particularly scathing was The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman, who said (among many other blistering salvos), "Lohan is woeful as Taylor from start to finish. But, whatever you do, don’t miss Liz & Dick. It’s an instant classic of unintentional hilarity. Drinking games were made for movies like this. And the best part is that it gets worse as it goes on, so in the right company with the right beverages, Liz & Dick could be unbearably hilarious toward the tail end of the 90-minute running time. By the time Lohan is playing mid-’80s Taylor and it looks like a lost Saturday Night Live skit, your body may be cramped by convulsions."
On Lohan's own Instagram, the masses went to town; "Still on crack?" was one of the kinder (and more printable) offerings from the armchair critic set.
Between the breathless coverage of the telemovie's awfulness - which can, according to the coverage, all be blamed on Lohan - and the trolls, this perfect storm of breathless derision has left me with a bad taste in my mouth (and I say that as someone who spent over 1500 words on Sucker Punch, which I probably don't need to remind you was a movie, not a human being with feelings).
This isn't about whether or not Liz & Dick is terrible or not, since objectively, the project was doomed to failure from the get-go; Lohan's a good actress (or was), but she's no Elizabeth Taylor, and how Grant Bowler managed to coast over the Pacific without his "Savings Brand Richard Roxburgh" tag intact and score the role of Richard Burton is truly a wonder.
One need only watch a moment of the telemovie to know it's a howler:
It is a stinker.
As the New York Times' Alessandra Stanley put it, "The film’s real failure is that it’s not terrible enough. Instead it is a respectful and oddly cramped tribute to the legendary love affair between Taylor and Richard Burton that isn’t vulgar enough to be entertainingly campy and is too wedded to the myth to riff imaginatively on the couple’s gaudy, outsize celebrity."
In this era of snark, of course, this was cause for an outpouring of scorn directed solely at Lohan: not at Lifetime for green-lighting the whole sorry affair, or the director, or Lohan's agent, or anyone else for that matter.
And whether or not the Huffington Post's piece about Lohan being "devastated" by the critical response to Liz & Dick is true (it probably is, given the tabloid circus her life has become), surely I can't be the only one concerned about what such a storm of gleeful slanging might do to an already-fragile person?
There's a meanness to much of the Liz & Dick coverage that is striking; it goes beyond mere criticism and somewhere more personal. And for what? I appreciate that Lohan has been flaky for some time now, but she managed to clock this project. Where was the similar coverage back when Robert Downey Jr was drinking and drugging his way around Hollywood?
(It's also hard to dismiss the sense in all this that there is a large community of people who won't be satisfied until Lohan has been hounded to an early grave.)
Lohan needs decent rehab, a better agent, a break from her family. She needs constructive criticism, sure, but not meanly gleeful mockery. Taking on a role that's too big for you might be an ill-advised career move, but I don't think Lohan really deserve out-and-out hatred for taking a chance on a gig that probably seemed - after years of failed projects and iffy guest-appearances - to be a dream come true.
If that makes me hopelessly old-fashioned, then so be it. But at least I'm not an arsehole.