Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and Paris Hilton flash for success and distract the masses

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We've been peering up the skirts of starlets for many, many decades now. Marilyn Monroe provided one of the iconic images of the 20th century when she straddled a subway grill in The Seven Year Itch with her skirt billowing around her waist. A little coy, yes, but filmmaker Nic Roeg would nail the subtext of that particular image exactly 30 years later when he re-created the scene in the 1985 film Insignificance . In Roeg's version, we get to see the working stiff operating the wind machine under the grate. He gazes upwards at the most prized and holy quim of the modern era—a muff that would, in the margins of American history, end up taking a nonspeaking role in the assassination of a president; a Pandora's box that couldn't have been more wedded to the atomic age if Monroe had managed to drop Fat Man and Little Boy out of her perfect ass.

Today we've been given star pussy in bulk. Googling the words "celebrity upskirt" yields a mere 1,850,000 results, although you can winnow it down to about half a mil if you throw terms like "nip slip" in there, too. Web sites like The Superficial offer exquisitely bitchy commentary along with knee-level shots of wardrobe malfunctions and minge emerging from limousines, although any office worker intent on squirting pecker snot all over his desk should dig a little deeper. Off-road voyeur sites like Rob's Celebrity Oops! not only are breathtakingly comprehensive but also often link to high-resolution downloads of such recent favourites as Paris Hilton's twat climbing out of a car, Britney's twat climbing out of a car, and Lindsay Lohan's twat climbing out of a car and a boat.

Ah, yes! Paris, Britney, and Lindsay—the Holy Trim-ity of putative pop-tart snatch. Few things have approached the excitement and shuddering drainage of desire that came with the debut of Lohan's yacht pussy last September or Britney's limo flash shortly after. In either case, the distraction was enough to knock other less well documented stories—the onset of World War III, for instance—from the front page of the collective mind. It's comforting to assume that the only conspiracy here is between Lohan and her dirty little mitt. Or maybe Spears was simply ramping up interest in a sputtering career when she decided to throw her knickers to the wind. Or perhaps it's a game of brinkmanship. Since Spears recently shaved her head, scrawled 666 on her noggin, declared herself the Antichrist, and began attacking cars with umbrellas, keep your eyes on Lohan to do something even more ridiculous—like carve a swastika into her forehead.

The bottom line for now is that any attempt at explaining a popular culture intent on serving up so much gynecological spectacle will fall short. To put it bluntly, it's just fucked, like pretty much everything else right now, and not only because there's malice embedded in those flash-drenched images of the skeletal Lohan's desiccated firecrotch—which is about as inviting as a dehydrated cheese scone with hair on it—or Britney's labia stretched gruesomely between her cellulite and her cesarean scar. Mmm.

Look hard and long enough—and I did—and there's Serena Williams, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, the Olsen twins, Fergie (both versions: meth head and royal), and even poor old Charlotte Church spilling out of her dress in a London nightclub. By aiming squarely for the groins of men and the schadenfreude of women, a tabloid mentality run amok has bedazzled us while elsewhere the world burns. It's a notion that coalesces quite neatly in perhaps the most unexpected and shocking "oops" of them all: a photograph of the next imperial president of the U.S., Hilary Clinton, giving us an inadvertent glimpse of below-the-beltway, senatorial beaver. (It exists, but it's not pantiless; check out www.staroops.com/H/HilaryClinton/ .) It must have done wonders for her album sales. Now, what was that about somebody dropping bombs out of her ass?