It seems everyone is worried about Amanda Bynes these days. But Danielle and Andy Mayoras, listed as “Contributor” for Forbes (is that like when people have combined “Cathy and Igor Gembitsky” Facebook profiles?) take it to a new level when they wonder whether Amanda needs a conservatorship. There are definitely legit concerns about Amanda’s safety and the safety of others. She did get a DUI after running into a cop car. However, I can’t help but wonder whether this recommendation, based on genuine concern for Amanda, is tinged with a desire to make this misbehaving woman get under control so we can all feel okay again.
The Mayoras bring up Britney Spears as the example to follow here, noting, “Britney Spears’ career was likely turned around because of court intervention through a conservatorship proceeding.” But has her career been turned around? And is this really a good thing?
Autostraddle has an excellent piece on the Britney conservatorship called It’s Not Britney, Bitch, the sort of thing one expects a straight Alabaman man to share on this author’s Facebook. Autostraddle’s riese questions the idea of Britney’s career “turnaround”:
If Britney Spears’ defiantly lackluster performance of “Would You Hold it Against Me” on Good Morning America wasn’t enough to re-ignite your inner Britneyspearsologist, her new MTV I Am the Femme Fatale Special certainly will. In between almost exasperatedly mundane “behind-the-scenes” footage (Britney Spears needs coffee! Britney Spears has to pee!), interviewer Sway painfully delivers a set of Jamie-Spears-approved questions including zingers like “How did you feel when you saw all the props for your video?”
Britney, who seems just ever-so-slightly more bored than Sway, executes canned responses full of generalities, empty abstractions, the word “exciting,” and deferrals (constantly praising her “team” but not herself).
riese goes on to explain what a conservatorship means. “This type of court proceeding is normally used for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease,” she explains. And then she describes what happened to Britney:
This is all the doing of Jamie Spears, her (allegedly) emotionally abusive recovered-addict father, who finally succeeded in his wrestle for Brit-Brit Control in February 2008. That was the year Britney’s public trainwreck (detailed poignantly in this Rolling Stone article) bottomed out and, while Britney was in the hospital, Jamie’s lawyers arranged the conservatorship that granted him exclusive rights to Britney’s personal life and financials. It was supposed to be temporary, just ’til she got back on her feet.
So what has Amanda done, besides the DUI and two dismissed hit-and-run incidents, that puts her decision-making rights and abilities in the same category of someone with Alzheimer’s disease? The Mayoras write:
More recently, she tweeted to R&B/hip-hop artist Drake that she wants him to “murder her vagina.” Bynes has also been busy posting numerous pictures of herself topless and in lingerie.
Hmmm. How unusual are these activities? A few days ago Drake tweeted “DJ Khaled We The Best > EA SPORTS It’s in the game” to which someone name Jan. gave the non-sequitur response: “cum inside me’ which itself received 53 retweets. Is she a bad driver too? Get Jan. a conservatorship! So Amanda’s wording might have been a tad more… creative. Clearly to be propositioned on Twitter is not that rare an occurrence for the handsome and talented Mr. Degrassi.
And tell me, does a day go by when Rhianna fails to post a picture of her very fine self topless and in lingerie? It’s called being a starlet.
What does it mean that starkly asking for sex and exposing your body publicly makes the Mayoras so uncomfortable “for her safety” that they want her autonomy and financial independence legally curtailed?
The normal ramification for being accused of hit and runs and convicted of DUIs (her only legal offenses) is not conservatorship. It is fines, license revocation, driving classes, and/or jail time. I find it both coddling and degrading that Amanda has (to my knowledge) managed thus far to escape the full legal ramifications of her offenses but is now dealing instead with people saying she should lose the ability to make her own legal and financial decisions.
If Amanda is a danger to herself or others, should she not be dealt with in the same way everyone else in that category is dealt with? If not, is it because the way we deal with these people isn’t that great? If the established legal process isn’t what’s right for her driving habits, perhaps we should then change the process instead of providing exceptions for the famous.
Transferring Amanda’s legal and financial decision-making rights elsewhere is a huge step, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I think the issue here is that Amanda is less a threat to herself, or others, and more a threat to others’ sense of propriety. There may be some schadenfreude at work here as well; we tend to love to see celebrities get punished.
The solution to the problem of Amanda Bynes starts with examining why feel compelled to control her. Yes, she’s clearly a bad driver. But it appears we also feel threatened by her sexual expression. Instead of taking away her agency, maybe we can take this as an opportunity to examine why a women in lingerie asking for sex makes us so uncomfortable.