Teen star Amanda Bynes is back – sober and ready to act again after her public breakdown. Should we worry?
RRemember Amanda Bynes? You might do from such teen comedies as What a Girl Wants, in which she discovers her dad is Colin Firth and comes to England to de-Englishize him. Or She’s the Man, in which she masqueraded as a boy to play soccer and charm Channing Tatum. Or before that, Nickelodeon’s The Amanda Show.
Alternatively, you might remember Bynes for her subsequent, very public flame-out, induced by a toxic combination of body-image anxieties, child-star pressures and dangerously easy access to both narcotics and social media. During the 2000s, print and online media alike reported on Bynes’s escapades and misfortunes with relish; many of them read like episodes from a stoner comedy. Like her courtroom appearance for allegedly throwing a bong out of her 36th-floor window when the police came calling (the case was dismissed). Or the time she reportedly started a fire in a stranger’s driveway. There were no charges brought against her but she did accidentally douse her dog in petrol and have to go into a store to rinse it off.
Bynes did give the press plenty of ammunition via her Twitter feed, regularly picking fights with the likes of Drake and Rihanna, or commenting on her own appearance and cosmetic surgery, and posting risque selfies. All of which made for more “You won’t believe what Amanda Bynes has done now!” stories, even when it was clear the stoner comedy was more of a substance-abuse and mental-health problem. By 2010, aged 24, her career was effectively over.
But now Bynes is back. In a new interview with Paper magazine she seems in a better place: healthy, four years sober, studying fashion and marketing, Twitter history erased; full of regret and remorse. “Everything I worked my whole life to achieve, I ruined it all through Twitter,” she says at one point. “It’s definitely not Twitter’s fault, it’s my own fault.” She could also blame the industry,
the press, or those of us who lapped it up. Perhaps history will look back on the 00s as the worst time to be young, female and famous. Bynes was just one of a number of casualties: Britney Spears, Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan.
Should we worry that Bynes has expressed a desire to return to acting? For one, this is not Drew Barrymore in the 90s. It isn’t easy to put the past behind you. Bynes deleted her Twitter history but it’s still online. She might well look to Lindsay Lohan (last seen in Brit sitcom Sick Note, with Rupert Grint and Nick Frost) who has struggled to reignite her comeback. Failure could be damaging but success even more so, especially if it brings back old vulnerabilities and cravings, including media attention. We might also worry that Bynes is back on Twitter, posting a link to the Paper interview to her 3 million followers. At least she is in control this time.
Whole new ball game: Bynes in She’s the Man; and (below)What a Girl Wants Steve Rose