In case you needed a little refresher course in what American cultural imperialism looks like, all you gotta do is take a peek at the first episode of “Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club”, which has now aired on a network that has the nerve to still call itself MTV, beaming to the masses a vision of Mykonos that veers between totally warped and terrifyingly accurate.
While entrepreneurship is not to be knocked, and there’s no doubt that Lohan has had her share of ups and downs and deserves kudos for realizing that anyone in Hollywood has by definition a short shelf life so exploring other options is prudent, in terms of entertainment, there are a few takeaways here.
In the first episode, we realize that not only are all the male VIP “ambassadors” Lohan recruited last summer complete egotistical soulless hollowed-out semi-humanoid dumf*cks who might scarily actually be capable of reproducing, but that the real diva of the show is not Lohan who’s just trying to steer things straight but her bitchy business partner Panos. His most telling quote? “Selling, selling, selling!” he hisses to his staff. “It’s all about money.”
$hocker, shocker, shocker!
This, as the smooth, self-styled Mykonian pirate pressures his ambassadors to sell beach club guests who ventured beyond the more celebrated confines of the Paradise and Super Paradise (the most famous beaches on Mykonos) on cabanas that cost (according to the show) 1,500 euros a day. Hell, next to that, a cold refreshing Lohan Colada is a steal at (according to the cocktail menu) just 15 euros!
Now it’s no secret that Mykonos is a place where the thicker your wallet, is the more welcome you will be. You might say that of many places, but Mykonos is tiny, so the glitz and glam and price-gouging is only magnified and the danger of that to folks watching Beach Club is that it perverts the optics of the actual Greek island experience — or what that experience should be. Don’t look for this show to present any alternatives: with its well-oiled fixation on branding and profit, it would not be inaccurate to label the show’s producers as cultural fascists. Make no mistake: They are.
At one point, Lohan suggests that having some of her staff feed the local cats is a way of “giving back.” On an island under severe environmental strain from the boatloads of tourists dumped on its shores um, no: feeding cats doesn’t count. Maybe just let those poor suffering kitties, um, eat cake?
Whatevs. It’s the personality of Panos and what it projects that is truly toxic: whether MTV intended it or not he comes off as the Tattoo foil to some seriously questionable money—after all, can you name 10 people who have an honest two thousand bucks to throw around per day at a beach bar? Not that MTV is one to ask questions. But what this does, inter alia, is project the most base, reductive side of American capitalism, and because despite the Internet MTV still monopolizes a distribution network, this should be seen for what it is: good old-fashioned corporate Yankee cultural imperialism. We need this?
I don’t begrudge Lohan at all for trying to take her (mostly) lazy staffers to task, for forcing one of them to dye her hair pink, or to somewhat ludicrously fixate so tightly on building her brand: wherever you are in the world, in Beverly Hills, Cleveland or Mykonos, trying to run your own business is never very easy. For that much, LiLo is to be commended (but for some other things, less).
But the show is not doing the island of Mykonos any favors — it is doing MTV favors. And as much as MTV represented a new creative age of pop music in the 1980s, that’s how much the network is trivializing and misrepresenting travel in Greece now through Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club. Equally problematic, it does this while very accurately representing the current sorry state of me-me-me American values.
Values which are now so self-absorbed, so fixated on profit, that some U.S. corporations are glibly conflating the notion of “connecting people” with empowering terrorists.
And what’s good for la Lohan is not necessarily good for America — but then it’s not clear if she really cares. Why should she? Last we checked she says she has relocated to that well-known bastion of freedom and democracy, Dubai.
But don’t expect Abu Dhabi Daquiris to show up on Lohan Beach Club’s drinks menu anytime soon. Maybe in Season 2.
— Antoine de Grant