I heard about Amanda Bynes recent “issues” not through TMZ or Twitter, but via pro-football channels. Makes sense, right?
The tongue-in-cheek NFL news site, ProFootballMock.com, broke the “news” that Bynes had signed with the notoriously dysfunctional NFL team, the Detroit Lions.
As I caught up on the Bynes shame spiral, I started thinking about the equivalent bologna that goes on in the NFL and other professional sports, too. The current terror Bynes is on made me think of former Lions wide receiver, Titus Young. How similar is a self-destructing young Hollywood star and a self-destructing young star athlete?
- Bynes is currently facing charges in New York for reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence, and possession of marijuana from a May 23rd incident at her Manhattan apartment. She faced a laundry list of charges in 2012: multiple DUIs, 2 counts of “driving with a suspended license” 2 hit and run charges , and just recently, she was kicked out of her gym for smoking pot in the women’s locker room at 4:20 pm (how original).
- You might have heard about it when this former Detroit Lion was arrested not once, not twice but three times in one week, with two of those arrests happening within 24 hours of each other. First he gets a DUI, gets arrested and his car is impounded. Fourteen hours later, he’s arrested again for trying to break into the police impound lot to get his car. Later in the week: burglary and assault.
Here you have two young, uniquely talented people who appear determined to self-destruct and ruin the chance of them capitalizing on the skills and success they have built so far.
It may seem that the high-profile careers chosen by Bynes and Young exist in an enabling breeding ground for all sorts of dysfunction. And, in many ways, that’s probably true: the money, the fame, the attention and adoration of fans. But, there is a difference that, I believe, makes a difference.
If you look at Bynes, her career in showbiz is hanging by a thread – pending a Mickey Rourke style comeback. However, TMZ, People Magazine, US Weekly and Perez Hilton are making a pretty nice living off of her name right now. It’s just like the way the British tabloids cover the Royal Family to keep the presses rolling. But, the studios and executives Bynes has worked with are in no real danger of tanking due to her collapse.
A great example: Lindsay Lohan’s biggest box office success before her collapse was Freaky Friday, released by Disney, but no one now labels Disney as a dysfunctional, has-been success in the production of films and television. So, even though Bynes may lose work, her downfall feeds the beast of the industry that spit her out.
On the other hand, the Detroit Lions – because of Young and others like him – have become the “halfway house” of the NFL. The team is a punchline. Their value as an organization has been diminished, which hurts their trade negotiations, ticket sales, merchandise sales and credible media coverage. That’s why it’s in an NFL team’s best interest, and even more so, in the league’s best interest, to avoid problem players and look for ways to support those players on the edge. Under the direction of NFL Commissioner, Roger Goddell, the league is now about as strict as it has ever been when it comes to player conduct.
What would be Hollywood’s motivation to support and protect young talent to gracefully succeed as they mature in their careers? There is none. Every negotiation with these stars is based on “What have you done for me lately? How hot are you now?” Any project already in the works is completely malleable. They can change a plot line at the drop of a hat – or an “elevator shaft” – with the right lawyers to undue any contract language, and slick public relations professionals to make the executives look squeaky clean.
At the end of the day in both industries, you are still looking at the exploitation of young talent for the financial gain of big people with big stakes in the game in the name of “entertainment”.
Should I feel guilty for being an actress, an entertainment writer and a rabid NFL fan? Maybe. But I don’t. Every chosen profession or business comes with a price tag. It’s up to the person performing or playing to decide if it’s worth it, and to navigate the life it creates as a result.