We are fascinated by celebrities, are we not? As reflections of our imagined/fantasy “best selves,” we’re fascinated when they do well and we’re perhaps even more fascinated when they fall apart. Some celebrities appear to take deliberate advantage of this proclivity, working controversy and bizarre outfits to their commercial advantage (Lady Gaga, Britney Spears) or walking the line between eccentric and unhinged so skillfully that we sometimes cannot tell whether they are truly bananas or brilliant (Joaquin Phoenix, Charlie Sheen, Lauryn Hill). But we love to wonder, don’t we? And right now, America is wondering about Amanda Bynes.
In 2006 actress and “fashion designer” Bynes was named one of Teen People’s “25 Hottest Stars Under 25”. Her credits include her own TV show The Amanda Show, a co-starring role with Emma Stone in the 2010 hit comedy “Easy A,” and awards four years in a row at the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards. However, even with these and other solid successes under her belt, in 2010 Bynes appeared to flounder. In June of that year, Bynes announced via Twitter “I don’t love acting anymore, so I’ve stopped doing it.” A month later, she had an apparent change of heart and “unretired.” At the 2011 MTV Movie Awards, Bynes told People Magazine that she was merely taking “time off.” Then, in September 2012, Bynes announced that she had once again retired from acting to focus on “launching her career as a fashion designer and rapper.”
Recently, Bynes grabbed headlines with a series of bizarre demonstrations of behavior typically displayed by celebrites losing (or very skillfully playing) their marbles. Her antics have the attention of celebrity gossip sites, news outlets and at least one music industry executive. “She’s phenomenal, and that’s the crazy thing about this,” producer and Chinga Chang Records label CEO Daniel Herman told the Huffington Post on Tuesday. Chinga Chang Records, a small New York-based music group, reportedly sees a rap star in the 27-year-old and has extended an offer for a record deal to drop her first album.
“More Gangster Than Drake”
Before reaching out to the former child star’s attorney to propose the deal, Herman received the go-ahead from The Orchard and Sony Entertainment, reports the Huffington Post. “Right now you have a Nickelodeon pop star masquerading as a gangster rapper,” he added. “I know she has talent. I grew up with Nick[elodeon] and the orange couch. I’ve heard her sing when she was younger. I wanna get her in the cutting room in NYC and see what she has. Why the hell not?”
Herman goes so far as to say that the actress, who recently told celebrity gossip outlet TMZ that she turned down a Playboy Radio gig to focus on her rap career, is “more gangster than [hip-hop star] Drake.”
“You’ve got a girl that’s very attractive and very talented,” he said. “If you look at her actions and attitude she represents hip hop a lot better than Drake. Musically, this girl carries herself. She is hip-hop…she is not crazy, she is not on drugs. She’s just hip-hop! She’s a great talent who is going to make some great records with some classic producers.”
She’s Come Undone
On March 7, 2012, Bynes was pulled over for talking on her cell phone while driving. On April 6, she was arrested after side-swiping a police car in West Hollywood, but was released without bail. Then on June 5 Bynes was officially charged with driving under the influence. On September 4, Bynes was charged with hit-and-run related to leaving the scene of two separate accidents without providing proper information.
On September 6, 2012, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspended Bynes’ driver’s license. On September 16, Bynes was caught driving on her suspended license and had her vehicle impounded; on September 21 she was charged. She pled “not guilty” to two charges of hit-and-run on September 27 with a court date set for December 17. A settlement with the other parties in the alleged hit-and-run incidents was reached before her court date, and the charges were dismissed. On May 9, 2013, Bynes pled “no contest” to the charge of driving with a suspended license. She was sentenced to three years’ probation.
On May 23, 2013, police were called to Bynes’ apartment on West 47th Street in Manhattan when the doorman reported “someone smoking marijuana in the lobby.” After a short investigation she was arrested for reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence and criminal possession of marijuana. Her alleged toss of a bong out of her 36th-floor window was reported by celebrity gossip outlets such as TMZ.com and PerezHilton.com. Related to this incident, Bynes was taken in for mental evaluation. Bynes denied throwing a bong out a window and accused a policeman of sexual harassment. She was later evicted.
On May 30, TMZ.com featured video of (allegedly) Bynes on the street in Buffalo, New York. Pursued by the camera man who asks her repeatedly “What are you doing in Buffalo?” Bynes replies “I’m not in Buffalo, and I don’t know who you are.” When pressed again as to her reasons for being there, an evasive Bynes reiterates over her shoulder “Dude, we’re not in Buffalo New York.”
Crazy Like a Fox
Bynes has also engaged in “battles” on Twitter with pop star Rihanna and Miley Cyrus, tweeting to Rihanna that “Chris Brown beat you because you’re not pretty enough,” and tweeting a picture of Cyrus with the commentary “u r ugly”. When questioned about this, the New York Daily News reports that the former child star insisted she “loves” Rihanna and finds her to be “a beauty” that she’ll one day collaborate with on a song. The hateful tweets, Bynes said, were a result of her account being hacked.
With near-daily media attention over the past few weeks, offers of record contracts, radio shows and product endorsement, and with “Amanda Bynes twitter” clocking in as a current “peak search term” on Google trends, one really has to wonder, is the girl crazy, or is she “crazy like a fox?” Is she melting down, or manipulating the press to her advantage? Brilliant or bananas? Only time will tell.
Other Celebrities Who Are “Crazy” in Real Life
In researching this article, I came across this one on Complex.com (a pop culture site): “25 Actors Who Are Crazy in Real Life.” I’ll just, well, I’ll just let you read it for yourself. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing (wink). Clearly Bynes has some stellar examples to follow in this “game”. In closing, here is one of the top 25 “Brilliant or Bananas” contenders showing us (and Amanda Bynes) how it’s done:
Written by Cybelle Clements