In times like this we should help, not hate
By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor
Back in March I wrote about Justin Bieber’s then-recent string of incidents, many of which were negative signs of what thrusting a child into the spotlight can do to a person. But while Bieber is definitely a victim of being spoiled, he can be considered lucky compared to some of the more major celebrity breakdowns we’ve seen in the past couple years; this includes Amanda Bynes, as of late.
Between the likes of Courtney Love, Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan (to list three out of dozens of examples), the public has a history of condemning celebrities who suffer breakdowns. Turning a blind eye to such things is extremely easy to do, as is shaming people who are in clear need of help. Between the three people listed, Spears’ 2007 breakdown is considered one of the worst, spanning from shaving her head, to a wide panning of her performance at that year’s MTV Video Music Awards (many poked fun at the fact that Spears had gained some weight), to having her children taken away. The saddest note of all is that the then 26-year-old Spears received very little public sympathy for all this.
In the six years since, many more celebrities have had their fair share of breakdowns—Chris Brown, Mel Gibson, and Charlie Sheen are a few whose public images will likely never fully recover, unlike Spears’. What makes the 27-year-old Bynes’ breakdown especially shocking is that the little girl once known for cracking jokes and enjoying herself on All That and her own The Amanda Show seemingly broke down out of nowhere. Signs first emerged throughout 2012, when Bynes had several separate court appearances regarding a DUI, reckless driving, and driving with a suspended licence. These charges all seemingly came to a close when Bynes was finally sentenced with three years of probation on May 9 of this year. With the number of celebrities whose breakdowns appear to have kicked off with car-related incidents, I feel like we should start taking driving charges as a warning sign.
On May 23, Bynes reportedly threw a bong from her 36th-floor apartment window, and it’s all been downhill since. In this time, she’s been active on Twitter, writing a number of horrible and questionable things to other celebrities (from “Chris brown beat you because you’re not pretty enough” to Rihanna, to “Stop living! Kill yourself!” to blogger Perez Hilton, amongst many others), including those who have attempted to reach out with concern (albeit still over Twitter).
Prior to all this news, Bynes had a fairly positive public image, thanks in part to her roles in Hairspray (2007) and Easy A (2010). Unfortunately, she hasn’t been in film or television since Easy A, which is a shame in its own right, but—without trying to cause speculation—there’s a chance a lack of work may have contributed to this breakdown. I need to stress again that I hate speculation; it’s that guessing and insinuating that keep paparazzi and the likes of TMZ and Entertainment Tonight in business, a business that thrives off of and encourages people like Bynes, Spears, and even Sheen to fall apart. But it is still important to take note of signs when these problems arise.
Once a person begins to recognize an image that’s been placed on them, whether it’s some celebrity or your own friend, they’re going to either go with or lash out at that image—sometimes both. There’s no simple reason for why people suffer breakdowns; that’s something they need to sort out themselves, but doing so is difficult when they’re convinced they have no support. Bynes’ recent breakdown is no different from a stranger suffering and falling apart from a crippling addiction. Celebrity in itself is its own weird addiction, and it’s one that should be taken seriously (keeping in mind that most addictions are primarily mental). I sincerely hope people are learning to be more compassionate in times like this, because it would be devastating to see this young woman never recover due to something as trivial and cruel as the general public lashing out at her for needing help.