If you were to believe the trending topics and nightly entertainment shows of the last couple weeks, you’d think Amanda Bynes were one of the biggest stars in the world. Everyone, it seems, wants to talk about her, but not me. This sudden media obsession with Bynes makes me very uneasy, and more than a little sad for her and her family.
Bynes isn’t the only celebrity under intense scrutiny, I realize. Kim Kardashian has been one of the most talked about celebrities for years, but I don’t worry about her. She has a lot of family support and seems well adjusted enough. Justin Bieber is also a media favorite, but he’s one of the biggest pop stars in the world – he has to expect scrutiny in this day and age. The difference with Bynes, though, is that she was never anywhere near as famous as Kardashian and Beiber, and hasn’t acted in a film or television show in over three years. So why is she receiving such intense media scrutiny? Sadly, it seems to be because there’s something very obviously wrong with her mental health.
Or at least it seems very obvious. Late night talk show hosts, Perez Hilton, comedians on Twitter, and a whole lot of others have been more than happy to make light of her situation. To them, Amanda Bynes and her unraveling are ripe for comedy. Can’t they see it isn’t funny? Or is it that they see, but just don’t care?
No good can come of all this media scrutiny. In all likelihood, it’s only going to exacerbate Bynes’ problems. When I see her unable to leave her home without being crowded by paparazzi, when I see her face on television repeatedly, and when I see her being discussed all over the Internet, all I can think is that this is the worst thing possible for someone with mental health issues.
I was talking about this with a friend who said that she thought that the hyper scrutiny of celebrities in traditional and social media today might be good for some of them. She mentioned Saturday Night Live star Chris Farley, whose drug and alcohol addiction happened largely outside the media in those pre-Internet days. If his problems were called out to the world by TMZ and the like, she said, perhaps he would have been forced to face his problem. Also, Farley went on a long binge before his death that his friends and family were unaware of. Today, the whole world would have known almost immediately, and his loved ones might have been able to check in on him. That is all conjecture, of course, and it’s also very possible he would have been worse off if he were alive today. It’s impossible to say, but there’s one thing that’s for sure – Bynes lives in a very different time.
I hope that Amanda Bynes finds help (or her way) in the days to come. If she doesn’t, though, everyone who has rubbernecked her life will have played a role, especially those who have made jokes about her problems.
*photo courtesy of imdb.com