Don’t make a spectacle of Bynes

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It’s time for the media to stop trivializing Amanda Bynes’ struggle with mental illness.

The actress regained media attention in 2012 after she was charged with a DUI and multiple counts of hit and run. In 2013, Bynes took to her Twitter to speak to fans about her life, writing tweets that confused readers.

After a series of arrests and altercations with police — including the discovery of drug paraphernalia in her apartment, and her setting a fire in a stranger’s driveway — Bynes was put under psychiatric care last September.

Things seemed quiet until last month, when Bynes sent a series of tweets accusing her father of sexually molesting her, which she later recanted by saying there was a microchip in her brain giving her orders.

Shortly after this, she was placed under involuntary psychiatric care.

Bynes was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder earlier this year — although there’s currently speculation over whether or not this exact diagnosis is still in place.

Throughout all of this, the media has made a spectacle of her actions, twisting episodes around for dramatic effect instead of regarding them in a serious manner.

Thus far, many people who followed Bynes’ story have laughed about it and ridiculed her behaviour with a complete lack of regard toward her mental illness, and the influence it has on her behaviour.

It seems that when a celebrity displays outward symptoms of mental illness, they’re not treated as if they’re sick, but as entertainment for people to watch as they deteriorate.

The world was shocked when Robin Williams committed suicide in August. The public had no idea that he’d been suffering from severe depression — he was silent about it for seemingly his whole life.

When celebrities who haven’t publicly shown symptoms pass away due to complications with mental illness, the media often sympathizes appropriately.

However, when celebrities like Bynes exhibit abnormal behaviour, the media tends to twist their serious condition into a joke, often despite being well aware of their illness.

The fact that Amanda Bynes isn’t “quiet” about her mental illness has given the media a sense of entitlement to exploit her story. This belittles her condition and disregards the fact that she’s undergoing a serious struggle with her health.

This light-hearted treatment of mental illness is destructive. By mocking Bynes’ behaviour, many of us, along with the media, are only further perpetuating the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Kashmala is one of the Journal's Arts Editors. She’s a second-year Arts and Science student.

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