An Open Letter To Ashlee Simpson
by Rusty W. Spell

Dear Ashlee,

It's okay if you just want to be a normal twenty-year-old. Don't let your mom or dad or anyone else tell you any different. So your sister became a superstar. So what? My sister was a cheerleader. I know you think you're distancing yourself from your sister Jessica by dying your hair black, wearing frumpy clothes, and singing songs that are more "rock," but you're missing the point. The point is, you don't belong in show business at all.

Some people might argue that all the young women in your field are without talent—Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, etc.—but those people are wrong. All of the above have lots of talent. Sure, they sing well or reasonably well, but more than that they are cut out for show biz. They can wear the costumes and do the choreographed dancing and have great pictures taken of them and—most importantly—can handle the job and the lifestyle. But, sweetheart, you stressed out for a whole episode of your reality show when you couldn't remember a couple of lines of song that someone asked you to change for the Orange Bowl.

I understand it's hard, Ashlee. I perform live music myself sometimes, and I go up there with a big binder full of my lyrics, as well as what chords to play, because I can't remember anything. But then, I'm playing at tiny little bars, usually for a handful of friends or people who aren't there to see me anyway. I'm not at bowl games or on MTV or Saturday Night Live or Top of the Pops. You are, which means you are required to get your act together. And the fact that you can't get your act together means that you are not cut out for this profession.

I know you want to prove something to the world now, especially since you were "caught" lip-synching, but I think you missed the point of your mistake there too. No one cared that you lip-synched, or shouldn't have, because it's a staple of the business. But, darling, when they play the wrong song, you roll with the punch, or start over, or spin it to your advantage, or pull an Elvis Costello—something. What you don't do is look up to God with a "Why me?" look on your face, proceed to do a jig, and then storm off stage. And you don't come back after the break and blame your band, the only people on stage who actually deserve to be there, because they know how to handle the situation like professionals.

Lots of young pop singers tell their fans that they are "just like them," and we all know how un-true it is. With you, however, it is true. You look just like a million other marginally-attractive college girls, only you're even more dumpy and less-composed than most of them. Ask yourself: is it a good idea to make your television program blur out your butt cleavage every week?

I mean, look at Avril Lavigne. When she began, she had the same idea as you: appeal to teens and pre-teens with a more "punk" sensibility, to offer an alternative to the complete bubblegum of her predecessors. But she didn't do it sloppily. She wears tops that are extremely fitted to her petite body, with just a little bit, but not too much, bagginess for her pants, and a few splashes of flavor like her necktie. Or Pink, who at first glance might be even closer to what you're doing, only her punkiness and dirtiness is extremely calculated, right down to the little gut she has. You, however, look like you're an eight-year-old playing dress-up with all the money you don't know what to do with, with a body that might be considered perfectly beautiful if you at least displayed it in such a way as to align yourself with the celebrities who you claim to be your peers.

Ultimately, the difference between you and every other girl your age is that you are famous. But you are only famous for one reason: because someone else decided you were. Your album sold so well because someone gave you a TV show, because someone had the bright idea, "What about Jessica's sister?" If you went to a college campus or high school, closed your eyes and spun around, and picked the person you were pointing at to star in a weekly TV show where cameras followed them around, they would be famous too. And then, if you wanted to, you could put that same teenager in hospital scrubs and tell them to operate on human bodies, but it wouldn't make them surgeons, no matter how popular their reality show was. They would crack, under the pressure of trying to be something they are not, and from being videotaped trying to be that something, and from failing and failing, over and over.

I'm worried about you, Ashlee. Just be the woman you actually are. You might be someone special under there after all, and not the hapless dink that you appear to be. I want your autobiography, indeed, but not the way it's been written and forced upon you by someone else. This fame might be fun for a while, if it's even fun at all right now, but you are going to be so sad in the future if you don't find yourself soon. Let your sister and Britney and the rest of them do their thing so that normal people like you and I don't have to. Some of us don't even need those stupid fifteen minutes, baby.




Copyright 2 Apr 2005 We Like Media.
You may email Rusty W. Spell.