It’s a sad reality of Hollywood. When actors or musicians begin their careers early — like preteen early — they are 78 percent more likely to end up with drug, alcohol or law enforcement problems by age 20. OK, I made up that statistic, but the basic premise remains true.
Just think about it. Drew Barrymore. Britney Spears. Miley Cyrus. Corey Feldman. River Phoenix. Lindsay Lohan. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Howie from the Backstreet Boys. These actors, actresses and musicians all had insane amounts of fame at a young age. And then they found themselves in a spot of trouble. Some made it out of their dark days, while other, tragically, did not.
As evidenced by the list above — which is just a sample, not a complete list — the problem is more prevalent among young female celebrities. It seems every time someone became popular enough to transform into a role model for young girls, they went and did something very un-role-model-like.
Drew Barrymore had drug problems. Britney Spears stopped dating Justin Timberlake (just kidding, she had a 55-hour wedding). Miley Cyrus was seen smoking a bong and started wearing more makeup than clothing. Lindsay Lohan began her downslide with two DUIs and a rehab visit.
Obviously, there are many exceptions to this rule, it wouldn’t be a rule if there weren’t. And my favorite exception was Amanda Bynes. Bynes got her start on Nickelodeon’s All That in the ’90s. She was so funny, she got her own spinoff, The Amanda Show. She was wholesome, which, let’s be honest, was the only reason I was allowed to watch her show growing up. I still miss The Amanda Show, especially the dancing lobsters.
And after her show on Nickelodeon ran its course, Bynes didn’t fall into complete obscurity, à la Kel from Kenan and Kel. She wasn’t wildly popular, but she held her own. She’s had a few funny small roles in Big Fat Liar (2002), Hairspray (2007) and Easy A (2010). She made What A Girl Wants (2003), a movie with Colin Firth. Cheesy, but it had its hilarious moments. She moved back to TV at one point with What I Like About You (2002-2006) on The WB, which had its loyal fan base.
Then She’s The Man happened in 2007. That movie threw her back into the spotlight, at least with young adolescents. A modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, She’s The Man is the story of Viola Davis struggling to prove herself in the male soccer community. It was a hilarious romantic comedy, but it also had a good message, appropriate for Bynes’ good girl image.
And so Bynes appeared to be beating the odds. Following her fame as a child star, she was neither fading into obscurity nor falling into a spiral of bad behavior. Her announcement at age 24 to retire from acting was a little weird, and we all sort of hoped she would pull an MJ and not stay retired for very long. But it also made sense: her escape from the world of acting to focus on herself.
For the past month, though, the 26-year-old
has not really been focusing on herself.
April 6, 2012: Bynes is arrested for a DUI after hitting a police radio car.
April 13, 2012: Bynes, focused on her phone more than the road, is seen driving into a red zone and through a stop sign.
April 16, 2012: Bynes attracts scrutiny for blocking traffic while doing a very slow three-point turn, looks wobbly when she exits the car.
May 4, 2012: Bynes sideswipes a pickup truck, but is very cooperative and has no visible signs of drunkenness.
According to People, Bynes has been partying a little harder lately. It’s not a meteoric descent from her wholesome childhood fame, but it is an unfortunate few run-ins with the law.
Now, I’m not naïve enough to believe that it’s only the celebrities that are getting in trouble or that it’s not at least a little bit overblown by the media. Everyone makes mistakes. It just seems like pretty big mistakes are inevitable among the young female crowd of Hollywood, which is a real shame.
But Amanda Bynes was a last beacon of shining hope for my cynical self — cynical at least when it comes to Hollywood. My reaction to her DUI last month was very similar to Obi Wan’s reaction to Anakin’s descent in Episode III: She was the Chosen One, at least to me. I wanted her to succeed, to show the up-and-coming girls of Hollywood that the good girl image didn’t have to just be an image, it could be a reality.
Maybe I’m making this into a bigger deal than this it is. Bynes might have just had a bad month. This might not be a lifestyle, but just an isolated series of bad decisions. It still confirms my thoughts on the wholly corrupting influence of Hollywood. Even Daniel Radcliffe felt the effects in the UK — he gave up drinking because he was partying too much and it was affecting his career.
I still love you, though, Amanda. I’m really pulling for you to get through this, and not to go Lindsay on us. But I’m thinking of transferring my hope to Hilary Duff. Lizzie McGuire did just have a baby.
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