At the core of recent public fascination with the travails of Amanda Bynes is uncertainty. Is her last year of erratic behavior a young-adult rebellion? Mental illness? Evidence of drug use? Performance art? Bynes's Hairspray co-star Nikki Blonsky recently claimed that Amanda is having "not a breakdown, but a breakthrough," underlining the paradox at the center of the modern American young adult experience: The rumspringa we expect, roughly, between the ages of 18 and 25, bears enough similarity to a manic episode or deranged art project that sometimes we cannot tell which one is happening.
When the breakdown/breakthrough plays out in public, we also face confusion over what, if anything, we should do about it. Look away? What if we can't?
Long hair don't caretwitpic.com/cnhlbk— Amanda Bynes (@AmandaBynes) May 2, 2013
As "proof" McCarthy provided tweets from "celebrity publicist" Jonathan Jaxson announcing, "I just spoke to @AmandaBynes and she is soooo messed up on drugs and please @NY_POLICE find her and help her." He also tweeted, "I don't know her address! @TMZ." If Jaxson's name is familiar, it may be because Kim Kardashian recently sued him for "falsely stating he was Kim's publicist." In 2007 he made waves with a claim that he hooked up with married actor Cuba Gooding, Jr.
McCarthy and Jaxson later deleted their tweets about police intervening on Bynes.
I personally decided to delete certain tweets because the last thing I want anyone to think is tonight was about me. It was about another!— Jonathan Jaxson (@jonathanjaxson) May 2, 2013
The latest chaos comes shortly after In Touch interviewed Bynes about her mental and chemical states. From In Touch's print edition:
IT: What's the worst thing you've read about yourself lately?
AB: That I'm mentally insane.
IT: Why do you think people are saying that?
AB: I have no clue. Every time I've heard it, it came from an ugly person's mouth, so I don't care.
IT: Do you think you have any issues with addiction?
AB: I don't drink. I'm allergic to alcohol.
IT: There are photos of you with what looks like a joint.
AB: I don't smoke pot. I smoke tobacco.
Unfortunately sanity and sobriety are hard to prove, in part because the insane and drunk have been known to claim the same. "Records of the human condition are often kept by its least reliable narrators," Sarah Nicole Prickett writes in a recent New Inquiry review of bipolar female memoirs. When 27-year-old Prickett describes her own diagnosis, she moves seamlessly from the language of young-adult disaffection to a description of illness: "Always there were moods you had that others did not, moods that were your organizing principle. Now they become your undoing. You weren’t wrong to think nobody else was like you. Not many people are. Almost nobody would want to be, and that’s where — in your wilding moments — you were wrong. I was."
I'm not proposing a diagnosis for Bynes. McCarthy's concern and In Touch's questions, however, point to the rubbernecker's version of Prickett's revelation: a desire to pinpoint the difference between emotional extremis and actionable unwellness in others.
When it comes to the growing pains of young adulthood, Bynes's most ready foil is Miley Cyrus. Both are cherubic brunettes-turned-blonde with roots in tween entertainment. Now they are "acting out" in parallel — but one seems "troubled," the other healthy. For every Bynes behavior that In Touch questions, there is a Cyrus corollary. Bynes pierced her cheek; Cyrus pierced her nose. Bynes was photographed inhaling; so was Cyrus. Bynes tweets strange videos; so does Cyrus. Gossip outlets routinely juxtapose Bynes's and Cyrus's nude moments, shaved heads, and tattoos. But Cyrus's sanity has never been called into question. She records songs, seems normal in interviews, pulls off TV cameos. She is engaged. (We think.) While Bynes seems to spiral in a semi-isolation, Cyrus is "just out there becoming" an adult — an occasionally messy process, but nothing to panic about. We may obsess over Miley's tweets, but we would never call the cops. (Or suggest so in earnest on Twitter.)
Prickett, who writes both for a living and to record her mood for therapeutic purposes, notes that there "comes a time when writing is just another symptom." In the age of social media, is there a time — as Jenny McCarthy seems to imply — that tweeting is just another symptom?
Most Viewed Stories
Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna Reportedly Broke Up
It’s Finally Possible to Understand What Happened to Amanda Knox
The Very Uncomfortable Experience of Rewatching Election in 2016
Outrageous Party Photos From Andy Warhol’s Factory Days
Chelsea Clinton Says She Didn’t Initially Know Her Mom Had Pneumonia Because She Was Trying to Power Through It
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
Ask a Boss: My Co-worker Wants Everyone to Call Her Boyfriend Her ‘Master’!
This Lipstick Was Designed by a Woman Who Can See 100 Million Colors
YogaToes Cured My Lifelong Fear of Bunions
The Y Has Returned in a Big Way to YSL
From Our Partners
Who What Wear
powered by PubExchange
Latest News from The CutLean In’s Workplace Inequality Report Doesn’t Tell Us Anything We Don’t Already Know
They’re not telling women anything we don’t already know.Here’s a Very Good Argument Against Stadium Proposals
What was supposed to be a simple Yankee Stadium engagement turned into a disaster.Yes, You Can Buy a Stylish Coat for Under $200
It can be done.Extravagant Makeup Inspired by Marie Antoinette’s Insane Beauty Routine
CR Fashion Book’s latest shoot.Preschool Teachers May Be Racially Biased Against Students, a New Study Found
The findings of a new study show how deeply rooted racism may be.Ask Polly: Should I Try to Help My Alcoholic Friend?
You’ve already done all you can.Kim Kardashian Says She Developed Thick Skin for the Haters Thanks to Kanye West
She says she used to cry when mean things were said about her.Chelsea Clinton Says She Didn’t Initially Know Her Mom Had Pneumonia Because She Was Trying to Power Through It
She says she found out when her mom showed up at her apartment on September 11.Men Who Protested Ryan Lochte’s Presence on Dancing With the Stars Are Charged With Misdemeanors
Two men were charged with two counts of misdemeanors on Monday.Serena Williams Refuses to ‘Stay Silent’ About Racial Inequality
“It’s not how far we have come but how much further still we have to go.”
It’s a devastating plea.The Y Has Returned in a Big Way to YSL
This is what Saint Laurent looks like post-Hedi.The Most Dramatic Backstage Photos You’ll See All Fashion Month
Preview the book Landon Nordeman: Out of Fashion.Even 100 Years Ago, People Were Worried About Technology Ruining Relationships
An old cartoon echoes some very modern anxieties.This Lipstick Was Designed by a Woman Who Can See 100 Million Colors
Maureen Seberg can see so many more colors than you.Brad Pitt Skipping Premiere to Focus on ‘Family Situation’
The actor may be gearing up to tell his side of the story in the tabloids this week.Please Help Wesley Snipes Find His Leather Jacket
He will be cold without it.The President of NARAL on What Abortion Means in This Election
It signals how the candidates feel about women.YogaToes Cured My Lifelong Fear of Bunions
The stretch feels like a backbend—but for your feet.Amy Schumer Just Broke a Major Milestone for Women in Comedy
She’s the first woman to land on Forbes’s list of the highest-paid comedians.