How Our Attention Spans Have Failed Amanda Bynes

Psychosis, much like the advantageously released sex tape, is another marketable aspect of the ever-expanding entrepreneurial lexicon that connects absurdity to celebrity. But from socially incoherent tweets to a 72-hour 5150 psychiatric hold (now extended an additional two weeks), a brisk downward trajectory is impossible without public coxing.

Amanda Bynes’ breakdown can be tracked in rhetorical increments of 140 characters and her mental state reduced to a hashtag, while late night hosts joke about a volatile situation because comedy has that uncanny ability to subvert the apparent shortcomings of the celebrity-obsessed public consciousness. All semi-pleasurable byproducts of an increasingly cynical society that craves the oldest form of entertainment: pain.

We, the Romans with our love of the spiraling pseudo-celebrity, the wretched chained to stake; we the lions with our perpetually diminishing attention spans. Once the masses have had their fill of blue wigs and cheek piercings, she’s gone. Overtaken by the newest One Direction tattoo (probably Harry’s) or a video of a puppy falling asleep in a water bowl. When she does resurface, it is in the form of a semi-reported on DUI or a nostalgic gif set featuring the Bynes of yesteryear.

We hear, in passing, that she has checked herself out of rehab. A decision we know that always ends poorly. Bynes was escorted from a restaurant for yelling at the wait staff – at least, according to the guy that sits in the desk next to us. A video surfaces of the Nickelodeon alum outside of the local McDonald’s, going on a rant about how the entire world is “ugly.” It’s autotuned. But we don’t listen, because who listens to autotune anymore?

Then, one way or another, she ends up in the hospital, possibly for another psychiatric hold. It is at this point that we really lose interest, because this is the moment where, in our minds, she becomes human. No longer a personality, but an actual person.

The Amanda Bynes to which I have previously referred is not flesh and blood actress, rather the cultural phenomena. A visage. A joke. We then feel bad, almost dirty, because we recognize that we, in some small part, had put her in this position. But we push this supposition to the back of our minds.

Because it had become uncomfortable, we no longer find it entertaining.

Grain of salt be damned – some things should take course outside of sardonic BuzzFeed posts and parody Twitter accounts.

Spears. Sheen. Lohan. We have all seen enough breakdowns in the past few years to know that they follow a pattern, to which we have become jaded. The shaved heads, the “winning,” the supposed jewelry theft. When these transpire, we think to ourselves, “Oh, come on! Get it together!” because we don’t want those articles clogging up our Yahoo newsfeed anymore.

So, aware of this process, why do we still sit eagerly waiting, guessing the next crash? Maybe this time it will be Bieber, I mean, didn’t he buy a pet monkey or something? Or there is also that Miley kid.

Finally, we trick ourselves into a lack of concern about Byne’s current mental propensities because, with time, we know what the ultimate outcome will be: a recovery. After a few more months, a rehab stint or two and a final tiff with the police, we will all find ourselves rooting for Bynes’ comeback.

Because who doesn’t love an underdog story?

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