You know when you’re turning the crank on a jack-in-a-box, and you keep turning and you know that creepy clown is going to jump out at you any second—you expect it—but it doesn’t stop you from jumping when it does finally spring out? That’s kind of what it’s been like to chronicle Amanda Bynes’s downward spiral these past months.
The 27-year-old child-star-turned-cautionary tale was arrested Thursday night in Manhattan on charges of reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence, and criminal possession of marijuana. The police were called to her midtown apartment after a building official reported seeing the former actress wandering the lobby with a joint, acting erratically and muttering to herself. By the time the cops arrived, Bynes had already returned to her apartment. When they opened her door, they were allegedly greeted by a damning cloud of weed smoke.
They also, apparently, saw a bong sitting in Bynes’s abode, which, realizing it was probably a bad thing for police to see, she allegedly chucked out the window…of her 36th floor apartment. She was arrested immediately. That’s when the creepy clown sprung out of the box. According to reports, Bynes went ballistic, struggling with cops and shouting over and over again, “Don’t you know who I am?”
Yes, Amanda, we do—even if we barely recognize you.
Bynes arrived in court Friday wearing the same platinum blonde wig that was draped over her face, like Cousin It dressed as Malibu Barbie for Halloween, when she was arrested Thursday night. The star’s perp walk from the police car into the courthouse was itself a mesmerizing spectacle: a circus of photographers and reporters all swirling around Bynes like moths on a cheap-wigged flame. Looking haggard and ridiculous—this “Amanda Bynes or Gandalf?” splitscreen says it best—while surrounded by the gaggle of paparazzi, it’s impossible to feel empathy for actress, treated as equal parts zoo animal and media star.
But then Bynes coughs up a hysterical excuse, telling the judge that the bong she threw out the window was “just a vase,” and those brief pangs of sympathy are immediately replaced by an eye roll. She was released on her recognizance and is now back on the streets. What can we expect next?
After all, every bizarre, confusing, tragic, and transfixing development in Bynes’s freefall to rock bottom—let’s hope that this destructive behavior shattered with that bong when it hit the pavement on West 47th St.—has been chronicled, if not by the media than by the falling star herself. There was the move from Los Angeles to New York, which, though unleashing a whirling dervish of crazy on the east coast, at least got her out of a car. Then there was the makeover transformation from girl next door to cheek-pierced, plastic-surgeried human Bratz doll to a demented dream. Her Twitter feed reached must-read status, an insane curation of the confessions of a woman on the edge—no, leaping head first off the edge—of a nervous breakdown, selfies included.
Through all of it were the concerning reports that, when strung together, assemble the portrait of someone who is clearly not well. There were reports (that she denied) that she walked around naked in a tanning salon. There were reports (that she denied) that she was kicked out of a gym for smoking weed in the ladies room. There were reports (that she denied) that she was evicted from an apartment for smoking too much marijuana.
Video leaked of Bynes working out at a gym like an absolutely insane person, wearing sunglasses and flip-flops and waving her arms around like one of those giant inflatable arm-flailing tube men that car dealerships station in parking lots when there’s a big sale. There was an equally bizarre video she posted herself on her Twitter, with a title that describes exactly what’s going on: “I’m Sucking on a Sour Patch Kid Listening to Music Getting Ready for Tonight :D.”
Each odd incident was covered extensively by the media and treated delusionally by Bynes, who would threaten to sue any publication that ran a report about her crazy behavior and insisted incessantly in interviews and on Twitter that she was not troubled and just living life and you’re probably ugly if you think anything’s wrong. Use an old photo of her instead of a post-makeover photo, of which she reminds you there are plenty to choose from on her Twitter account, and feel her wrath.
As a prelude to Thursday night’s “don’t you know who I am” moment, Bynes was reportedly refused boarding on a private jet after she couldn’t present proper identification (her driver’s license has been suspended, which every driver everywhere is thankful for). Unable to produce any photo ID, she told the pilot to look her up on Google, allegedly screaming “I’m Amanda Bynes!”
So yes, as all of this proves, we knew that this arrest was coming. It was a matter of time. But as much delight as we’ve gotten from gawking at The Amanda Show, the real-time breakdown of a former child star, it’s hard not to think of The Amanda Show, the ‘90s showcase of a precocious young talent and promising actress, and be shocked and disappointed that it’s come to this—a lunatic screaming "don't you know who I am" as she reportedly hurdles drug paraphernalia from her apartment window.
The jack-in-the-box has popped, just as we expected it to, but it still made us gasp.