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A Microchip Made Me Do It: Why Amanda Bynes Is Pop Culture’s Best Performance Artist

A Microchip Made Me Do It: Why Amanda Bynes Is Pop Culture’s Best Performance Artist:

Since her Nickelodeon days, Amanda Bynes has always been the star who feels like a peer. We’re both Valley girls who love Clueless. I lived for her “Ask Ashley” sketch on All That, where she would lash out against the idiots that wrote in asking her for advice, all from the comforts of her cute and cozy bedroom. As a baby girl with an affinity for performance myself, I admired her jokes that mocked her audience’s pedestrian concerns and their letters’ boring pleasantries. Ashley, like Amanda, was disruptive.

Bynes went on to star in good (not just big) movies, and after a series of obscure and jaw-dropping incidents (an alleged arson attempt, asking Drake to “murder her pussy”) she ended up in the space she occupies today—that of the media-ridiculed good-girl-gone-bad. But while her hair extensions are still bad (sorry, boo)—and her latest outburst appears to have landed her in the hospital—Bynes is still damn good at what she does: creating a persona who continues to elicit the question from her audience, Is this for real? Amanda Bynes is a savvy performance artist, and it doesn’t matter if she knows that or not.

Like many talented artists, sometimes Amanda’s performances are tragic. She isn’t afraid of imploding her entire life with a single Tweet; she continues utilizing her freedom to destroy. Her social media presence is a public map of her own coming-of-age, dotted with impressive and outrageous eruptions. Now her most recent actions feel like a massive FUCK YOU to anyone who thinks they know anything about her (AKA everyone who wants to).

As a recovering child star, she’s been under surveillance her entire life—long before social media put everyone else under surveillance. She seems hyper-aware of what it means to construct one’s image; that you don’t need to be mentally ill for the media to call you crazy (especially if you’re a woman); and what’s the difference between being a celebrity and having been a celebrity. The girl’s got a lot to say, and there’s no way I’ll stop listening anytime soon.

Amanda’s recent outpouring on Twitter encapsulates the many different Amandas that everyone both loves and hates. (In fact, her tweets only go back to March, because she deleted everything before that.) Here’s a breakdown of her recent activity, which started to take a turn for darkness three days ago.

Amanda the fashion student: What’s more LA than going to FIDM? Officially, it’s known as the place where creative careers begin.


Amanda the sorority girl:

It’s my birthday! Just looking cute and acting #basic.


Amanda the tabloid conspiracy-theorist: Posted three days ago, this is when things start to take a dark turn. Tabloids ARE insulting.


Amanda the spiritual leader: Amanda doesn’t want to be called crazy and neither do you. I shouldn’t have even mentioned her bad extensions and horrible wigs. I wouldn’t want to be publicly condemned for the white-girl-weave failures of my own past.


Amanda the over-achiever: The girl that can do anything! For girls like me and Amanda, the only thing more annoying than haters is stalkers. That’s why she’s letting her community of fans in NY know in advance—she’s going there to study, not to selfie with them.


Amanda the humble-bragger: Love me or hate me, it’s still an obsession.


Amanda the compliment-seeker: This is SUCH a real Tweet because we all need a lot of help looking pretty.


Amanda the casual racist: Welcome to 2014. While I don’t condone Amanda’s vocabulary choices, the rest of the white world does seem to. At best, most of us are apathetic. There’s NO WAY Amanda should use this word, but her Tweet does give us all the opportunity to recognize the way pop culture today encourages white people to play black. Sorry, Amanda, but as a country, we are not post-race. In fact, we never will be.


Amanda the romantic: Love saves us. This is an important and hopeful lesson for us all to remember.


“My dad was verbally and physically abuse to me as a child” [DELETED]

Amanda the survivor: Amanda gave advice on air to other kids as a child. She never fielded letters about child abuse, although she might have been getting abused at home. Art doesn’t always imitate life, but sometimes life does imitate art.


Amanda the truth-seeker: The key word here, for us all, is ANYMORE.


Amanda the fighter: Let’s hope she translates this poetry to music ASAP.


And finally, Amanda the cyborg:

And that’s where she leaves us—at the intersection of patriarchy and technology—drawing an audience into her game before she flips the switch and reverses her original story all together.

She’s a comedian? She’s in love? Her dad may or may not have touched her? He may or may not have touched himself in front of her?

Did any of this even happen? Is she crazy? Or are we?

Amanda says the microchip made her do it. Later, she arrived at LAX and was supposedly swept away to a mental hospital. What is a microchip but an implanted mechanism—fake at the core, but made to feel natural—kind of like celebrity identity? While most public figures try to hide the placement of the chip, Amanda’s wildness is part of questioning what the chip is, and whether or not it’s broken.

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