About two years ago I rediscovered the joys of being a ‘gamer’. Having not owned a console since my early childhood during the late eighties, I was ignorant of just how far the world of virtual reality had come since Mario first discovered his penchant for mushrooms, fire flowers and turtle shells. One of the first games I was introduced to was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and it was love at first shoot-out. Along with the excitement of being totally immersed in the sprawling landscape of this sand-box masterpiece, I was amazed at how much it made me laugh. Parodies of all walks of life abounded and like many others I waited eagerly to see who else would catch it in the neck following the arrival of GTA V.
Having particularly enjoyed the refreshing self-deprecation of Danny Dyer, Shaun Ryder and Phil Collins (yes, THE Phil Collins) who all provided their voices in earlier instalments of the series, I assumed that even if famous game fans were grimacing on the inside at their two-dimensional counterparts they were at least grinning on the outside. That illusion was quickly shattered this week following the news that Lindsay Lohan has announced her intent to sue Rockstar for their apparent abuse of her public persona in the shape of Lacey Jonas, a young actress cum socialite seeking refuge from the paparazzi.
In the interests of playing devil’s advocate, there are valid points of comparison, and it’s plausible that Lohan was indeed one of the celebrities the writers had in mind during the conception of Ms. Jonas. But the fact that the character’s surname is also likely a reference to a popular boy-band is just one example of the broad strokes used here to lampoon a whole generation of tabloid stalwarts in one fell swoop.
But where Lohan has really tripped herself up is her identification with Lacey’s character profile. By blithely assessing the similarities; an unhealthy attitude towards dieting combined with self obsession and an arrogant swagger, she not only hangs herself, she buys the rope, builds the gallows and sends out flyers for a very public execution.
In addition, the image of the vapid, fame hungry starlet is equally attributable to the way the press constructs and perpetuates caricatures. As expected, GTA V’s creators have their own take on this too, courtesy of Weazel News, a news station which gleefully boasts the tagline – “Confirming your prejudices”. When it comes to Rockstar’s astute observation of cultural eccentricities, no one is safe. Significantly, when Michael – one of the game’s protagonists – questions Lacey’s relevance to his generation, she wastes no time undercutting his dismissal of her. “I test very well in your demographic!”, she retorts, reducing even him to a ‘dirty old man’ stereotype.
The question as to whether Lohan has a case which holds any water whatsoever is barely worth pondering for the length of time it will take you to read this sentence. I will however be disappointed if the trial doesn’t make a sly appearance in the next thrilling GTA instalment.