While everyone is still patiently waiting for the photos of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s little baby, North, talking about the Teen Choice Awards (what do you think Don Cheadle will wear for his acceptance speech for Best Chemistry?!), or just plain living life to the capital F-fullest, I’m focusing my attention on a growing story. The ongoing eccentric tendencies of Ms. Amanda Bynes.
If you haven’t been following the tale of Bynes, navigate your cursor towards Amanda Bynes’ Twitter. A strange experience awaits you: blurry “selfie” pictures, enthusiasms about getting her next nose job, and calling various other celebrities “ugly” — including as most recently, The Obamas, Sarah Hyland of Modern Family, and rapper Drake; the same rapper who only a few months ago she expressed a desire to “murder her vagina.”
Bynes has also been receiving attention from her various legal troubles. It started with a couple casual DUIs here or there – no biggie – to eventually getting her license suspended. Now, her latest antics include (allegedly) throwing a bong out of her West 47th Street apartment window; a charge that resulted in various court dates, an accusation by Bynes stating she was sexual harassed by a police officer, and a check-in to the local looney bin for a mental health assessment.
It’s a story that has many media outlets concerned for the starlet, wondering if like many other young stars, Bynes is finally crushing under the pressure of Hollywood. Yet, this writer can’t help but question the sincerity of Bynes’ new image, with various red flags suggesting something much more juicy is cooking beyond the ratty blonde wigs and cheek piercings.
For this, I like to review the earlier, yet similar case of Joaquin Phoenix. Phoenix, if you recall, quit acting in 2008 to start a rap career. It was a story that resulted in a lot of media attention for the young Academy Award-nominated star. Remember the infamous David Letterman interview where he stuck his gum under the talk show host’s desk? It was parodied by Ben Stiller and Natalie Portman at the Oscars in 2009.
Phoenix looked like he was on a one-way train to Crazyville, meeting his friend Anne Heche for some tea and a little bit of down time with the voices in their head. Phoenix’s behaviour was eventually revealed to be a hoax for a mockumentary with director and friend Casey Affleck, titled I’m Still Here. The behaviour soon ceased with the film’s release, and the once troubled star we all worried about returned to normal; proving he was a jerk, but a mentally stable jerk.
I bring up Phoenix because, much like him, Bynes exhibits this same insane, almost unbelievable behaviour patterns. For one, an extreme change in appearance. In 2008, Phoenix, the once clean-cut actor, grew his beard and his hair out; his face becoming a matted mess that made late-season Gossip Girl look polished and well-edited. Much like Phoenix, Bynes sports an insane new loo. The once-blonde starlet known for her clean and mature – if not, boring – red-carpet look, wears blue Nicki Minaj wigs, Air Jordans, and cheek piercings. And her new career plans? Recording a rap album with Waka Flocka Flame as her producer (sound familiar?).
The proof also appears within the legal trouble Bynes faces. According to TMZ, Bynes received a mental health evaluation when she was arrested in May, which if it is true, suggests that Bynes is sane enough to still walk the streets. In fact, when Bynes addresses her fans and the public through her tweets, she appears coherent, alert, and not at all on the verge of any form of breakdown.
But why would Bynes do this? What does she have to prove and acquire for taking such extreme measures for attention? Lots.
Bynes’ Nickelodeon days, which she rose to fame from, are over, and she is working hard to escape the child-star zone – something that is difficult to do (Jonathan Lipnicki, Haley Joel Osment, and even Dakota Fanning, anyone?).
It’s a tricky slope that Miley Cyrus appears to be having success with; working with producers like Mike Will Made It, and crafting a new sound and image, and while all in all emerging successful, still trying to pop that Disney/Hannah Montana bubble that is on the verge of bursting.
So far, the risk seems to be working and the struggle doesn’t seem in vain. While Bynes is getting a lot of negative attention with this new career route, small signs show that this ploy is working to a minor level of effectiveness. Bynes’ dark tortoiseshell Céline sunglasses she’s been wearing around New York are a style trend, with frames appearing around the city, and my own source in fine eyewear saying that their customers can’t help but get a little glimmer in the eye when he says, “These are the Amanda Bynes.”
Bynes’ new habit of calling celebrities “ugly” is nothing short of incredible, taking one of the milder words someone could call you, and making it into a signature insult that feels so empty in its repetition that you almost can’t tell whether she’s being sincere or not. Even the negative legal attention Bynes has received so far isn’t that negative, with her recent legal trouble of being caught smoking marijuana in the lobby of her apartment building being quite tame. The evidence of the case feels non-existent, and Bynes looks to be facing a small slap on her wrist for the crime, at most. All the while soaking up more media attention and press than a What I like About You reunion would ever be able to produce, and all the while allowing Bynes to become more distant from the version of herself that acted beside Paul Giamatti and Frankie Muniz in Big Fat Liar.
Nothing is cemented in this unfolding story of Bynes, and given her silence by resisting in-person interviews and only letting her Twitter be the place where she will deny or address rumors, Bynes has remained silent and mysterious in an industry that demands everything be spoken and shown now, or let the public draw their own scary conclusions. While this is a theory I’m running with faster than Gwyneth Paltrow on a cleanse trying to find a toilet, I tread with caution knowing the slippery nature of a troubled celebrity. Bynes could in fact be in real trouble, and while I don’t believe it, that doesn’t mean a level of care or procedure shouldn’t still be enforced.
If we work with the assumption that I’m using in which Bynes is faking her recent behaviour, she still has a tricky next step to overcome. Using Phoenix once again as an example, and his excuse of his movie I’m Still Here, Bynes needs to present some form of motivation or outlet for her new look and attitude, showing her fans and the public that she wasn’t so much duping them, but rather using her life as a form of art.
If Bynes isn’t faking it, it’s another young star we need to worry about, or not; like Lindsay and Britney, a star that felt that she showed enough depth to bypass an avoidable negative scenario. But here we are: a bald Amanda, accompanied by strange behaviour, stranger tweets, and a growing audience waiting for her next move. If you read this all the way through, you know what I mean.