By Jon Weidman

I remember my sister telling me a decade or so ago that she’d seen Macaulay Culkin at a house party. Culkin had to be about 20-yeas-old at the time, without much of an acting career, but with a reputation as the most important child actor of his generation, and, more notably, as someone who fucked with the Wet Bandits but didn’t fuck Michael Jackson. My sister relayed that Culkin was completely, utterly, stupendously on drugs—barely coherent and unable to hold a cigarette.

I couldn’t believe what she was saying. The last time I’d seen Culkin, he was little Kevin McCallister on one of the trillions of Home Alone reruns pumped into good old American living rooms every Saturday morning. He seemed completely cute, charming and harmless (for a kid setting vicious human traps all over his house). The idea of Culkin as a gaunt, unpleasant, methamphetamined young adult had never crossed my mind.

Why am I ruminating about the unexpected fall from grace of cute little Kevin McCallister? Because of the morbid fascination and onslaught of Internet humor that has accompanied the most recent child-star-gone-bad: Amanda Bynes. (Obviously).

Within the past 14 months, Bynes has been arrested four times. Thrice for a litany of driving infractions (DUI, hit-and-run, driving with a suspended license, etc.) and once, most recently, for reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence, and criminal possession of marijuana. She earned the tampering with evidence charge by (allegedly) throwing a bong out of her 36th floor Hell’s Kitchen window after the cops—who were called because Bynes was (allegedly) smoking weed in the lobby earlier—knocked on her door. She was not arrested but merely expelled from her gym when they caught her smoking weed in the bathroom the month before. Additionally, Bynes has been waging the world’s most insane Twitter war against pseudo-celebs, pseudo-journalists, and anyone who dares @ her in any non-gushy way.

These incidents are, for sure, morbidly fascinating. Bynes has created her own personal news cycle ripe for Internet humor, and even inspired a “Bynesing” meme on par with “owling.” But lets not sit here and pretend that Amanda Bynes is some kind of unforeseen Mr. Hyde who emerged from the good old child star she used to be. Do you remember All That? Do you remember The Amanda Bynes Show? Look at this shit:

Misbehaving in public?

Fact: Either Amanda Bynes has always been totally fucking crazy, or she was told to act totally fucking crazy for so long that she became totally fucking crazy. This is not Macaulay Culkin popping up at a party suddenly missing a septum. We should have known these days would come, semi-polished façade be damned. Maybe we should feel a little guilty.

So why’s it all so funny?

Bynes’ particular slow-mo meltdown demonstrates real self-destruction, but with the bizarre fame baiting self-indulgence that makes us think everything will end up okay. It’s the difference between Lindsay Lohan and Amy Winehouse. If they’re in on the joke (or at least seem complicit in it), they must be in control. Except that sometimes we make jokes right up until Whitney Houston dies in a bathtub. So whatever direction the Amanda Bynes saga takes (I’m not implying or anticipating premature death, thank you) just don’t pretend you didn’t see it coming.

Featured image courtesy of TimeInc.net

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