October 14, 2014

MOSER | Amanda, Please?

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“She claimed her 19 year-old fiancé lives in Costa Mesa, California, and works in a bait shop,” In Touch reported last week. The magazine detailed an exclusive interview with Amanda Bynes in which she alleges she is engaged to a 19-= year-old, named Caleb.

The article was written with so much skepticism, it was almost as if the writer was trying to convey through subtext just how crazy Amanda Bynes seemed in their exclusive interview. For example: “The 28 year-old told In Touch Weekly exclusively that she not only has a 19 year-old boyfriend named Caleb, but also that they’re engaged! Her claim comes days after her arrest on DUI charges in California and a return to the concerning behavior that caused her to spend months under medical care.”

Children — especially girls — are often told what they say doesn’t matter, that they should be quiet, that they’re being precocious/annoying/obnoxious etc. …  and their opinions are dismissed by adults.

In the first sentence, In Touch is trying to be true to itself and report a celebrity engagement, and then in the second sentence, they’re saying “SHE IS NUTS, WE ARE JUST REPORTING WHAT SHE SAID, WE DON’T ACTUALLY BELIEVE IT, OKAY?”

This strange announcement came days before her string of tweets describing how her father had allegedly abused her as a child, which she then retracted claiming, “My dad never did any of those things The microchip in my brain made me say those things but he’s the one that ordered them to microchip me.”

The actress has requested that no one call her “crazy or insane because that’s a joke,” so out of respect for one of my childhood role models and personal heroes, I will refrain from addressing her current mental status, but just say that it deeply saddens me.

Amanda Bynes, when I was little, was more than just an entertainer. She was a young girl, proving that she had a right to be heard.

Children — especially girls — are often told what they say doesn’t matter, that they should be quiet, that they’re being precocious/annoying/obnoxious etc. …  and their opinions are dismissed by adults.

In Lena Dunham’s book, Not That Kind of Girl, she describes an incident as a young girl in which her teacher said something inappropriate to her. She told her parents and the teacher was fired. But then, when describing the incident to another adult, he told her to be careful because that was a really serious accusation to make. Dunham describes feeling ashamed for saying something and then goes on to say how often we don’t listen to children when we should.

Dunham’s story was particularly poignant to me, as someone who often felt like my voice didn’t matter as a younger sibling, perpetually increasing my volume to get attention (though I never had anything quite so serious to say).

And there was Amanda Bynes, in 1996, at the age of 10, doing stand-up at the Laugh Factory and demanding to be heard by the adults in the audience. And she was good at it too! Frankly, 10 year-old Amanda Bynes was better at stand-up than many adults I have seen doing stand-up comedy. There is a video on YouTube, which I highly recommend viewing, in which she jokes that she doesn’t know what her grades are in school because her teacher just wrote “Daughter of the Devil” on her report card. “Is that good?” said 10 year-old Amanda Bynes to uproarious laughter.

When I watched Amanda Bynes on All That and The Amanda Show as a child, it was like being told that it was okay to be precocious, that kids have something to say, that children, and girls, can be funny and deserve the chance to be heard.

Amanda Bynes certainly isn’t the first grown up child actor to have whatever kind of breakdown she is having now, and in my super unprofessional opinion, I think a lot of that must have to do with the type of parent who pushes their kid into fame (i.e. Dina Lohan.)

And there is hope — just look at Drew Barrymore. Her childhood included a role in E.T., but also a ton of alcohol, drug abuse and rehab. And now, she is a UN Ambassador Against Hunger and generally a great person and actress.

I guess what I struggle with is, how do we as a society have child actors, who I think are important and necessary for children, and then also make sure they are taken care of, when they were obviously not the ones who called the agent and booked the audition? I’m sure some parents of child actors do take care of their kids, but for the Amanda Byneses and the Lindsay Lohans of the world, I think we need to take some responsibility, as part of the problem. We are entertained by these people, inspired by them, and then laugh at them and call them crazy when they suffer.

For all of In TouchWeekly’s skepticism, I do hope that Amanda Bynes is really engaged to a hot 19 year-old and that she is happy.