Amanda Bynes is unraveling and the whole world is watching with bated breath.
Bynes began her career as a successful child comedian, but then stepped out of the spotlight in 2010 after starring in smash hit Easy A. She was launched back into the public eye when she was arrested for driving under the influence in 2012, and has since taken permanent residence in America’s psyche. With reports of increasingly erratic behavior and a breadcrumb trail of alarming tweets, Bynes is at the center of a new story every day.
After revealing an eating disorder on the social media platform last week, Bynes has threatened to sue every publication who speaks disparagingly of her, as well as to denounce her parents and her friends. “I don’t speak to my parents anymore, they don’t talk to reporters on my behalf. Don’t believe anything you read about me unless I tweet it,” she tweeted. When Bynes made the startling admission on Wednesday night that she “had to shave [her] head because of hair damage” and therefore wears a wig, the parallels between Bynes and another fallen teen idol could no longer be ignored.
Britney Spears, much like Bynes, skyrocketed to fame at a young age before plummeting to rock bottom at an even greater velocity years later. We all watched in horror and grotesque delight as 25-year-old Spears shaved her head, attacked a paparazzi with an umbrella, and then checked herself into rehab. The same year marked the downward spiral of yet another child star turned trouble starlet — Lindsay Lohan was arrested for her first DUI.
Both Spears’ and Lohan’s misadventures were fed to the public secondhand, through the media. With Bynes, the general population is privy to her idiosyncrasies directly in a way that wasn’t possible before Twitter captured the world’s attention. And we are eating it up. Bynes’ tweets are shared through the Interweb ethos with a frequency that has tabloids debating whether they need to dedicate a column to the young woman’s antics, and the laymen making her name a trending topic on Google news every day.
The reaction to each of Bynes’ confounding tweets is fascination and gleeful curiosity. The Twitterverse practically giggles as it wonders, What is she going to do next? And the expectation for each move is that it will be more absurd than the next. What’s crazier than threatening to sue the tabloids? Announcing an eating disorder! What’s more alarming than an eating disorder? Shaving your head and disavowing your parents! And on and on it goes.
But where does it end? In following Bynes’s every move, where do we hope she will end up? We have our own theory bubbling — that Bynes will unveil her hijinks as a ruse in a matter of months — but more likely is that Bynes will take one of two paths. The first option, preferable if you consider Bynes’ health, is that she will check into some sort of treatment center, be it for drugs, body image, or mental health. But more likely — and more despicably — is that the Internet-reading community won’t be satisfied until Bynes has a massive Britney-style meltdown. It will be messy, it will public, and it will be met with ecstatic relief and a cathartic exclamation of “Finally!”
But for Bynes, it will be tragic. Beneath the hoopla and media frenzy will be a scared, lost young woman in desperate need of help. If Bynes’ Twitter is to believed, she needs help now. And yet, here we are, waiting for her to hit rock bottom.
Bynes has made it clear that she reads tabloid stories about herself. Amanda, if you’re reading this now, stop. Stop reading. Stop worrying about what pictures magazines and websites post of you. Stop obsessing over the attention. Stop denouncing your friends and family. Stop tweeting. And go get the help it seems you so desperately need — you won’t find it in the spolight. You don’t need to prove everyone right.
Follow Abbey On Twitter @AbbeyStone