Amanda Bynes is here.
Look at her.
Look at her again. This is her life now. This is her face now. This is who she is. Don't take photos of her at certain angles. Use pictures from her Twitter. Look at her dancing. She is twerking. She has been twerking every night for a week. She is having fun. She is sucking on a Sour Patch Kid listening to music getting ready for tonight. She is wearing pink lipstick. Her platinum blonde hair is teased up high. She is watching herself on her iPhone and making funny faces.
Do you see her? Because you will never see her. She will keep changing. But right now, she is capturing who she is.
"Are you OK?" her fans ask under her video.
"Are you OK?" The questions are the same. "Amanda, are you OK? People care about you, Amanda."
They are asking again and again. They want to know if she is OK because she doesn't look the way she used to look. She does not seem to be the same Amanda Bynes they once knew, the one who grew up on TV, grew up on the movie screens. That is why she is showing us what she looks and acts like now. It is very different.
Look at her. She exists. Like this now. Not any other way.
Have you ever done a video like this? Right in that moment where your life does not feel like it is quite in control but you want to capture the lack of it exactly and precisely? I have. Then I watched. I was glad to see the image of myself on video. See. There I am. I'm still here. Don't tell me how I am. I have the video proof. This is how I am. I am wearing makeup. I have done my hair. I am dancing. There is music playing, and I am having fun. My life is an adventure. You have no idea what is going on in my head.
You only have this video.
The last time I did this I was stoned and dancing to Jay-Z's "On to the Next One." I was smoking a joint, and I had a peacock feather in my hair. I was pursing my lips and dancing around. I was glad I was making this video. It wasn't quite right. So I made another one. I put on more makeup. I just needed more makeup. It was hard to see my lipstick in the video. Maybe I needed more eye shadow.
None of us can ever know who or how Amanda Bynes is. The only person who can know that is Amanda Bynes. But we can feel compassion for her. And that includes anyone close to her or anyone serving her at Marquee and anyone writing about her on the Internet. That includes anyone who proclaims to be anti-bullying like Perez Hilton who makes videos that seemingly taunt her to sue him when there are much more important, much more concerning factors possibly in play.
Did your heart sink when you saw this video? Dumb. I don't know her. She's just a celebrity, no more important than anyone else, an actress who plays actress roles.
But my heart sunk and my eyes welled up with tears looking at that video.
Amanda Bynes is in a sphere of her own: Selfies and selfie videos and Twitter and an echo-chamber of self-creation that she wants to control and is controlling and she dares you to look at her and please look at her, because she did her makeup big and bright and her hair is teased and she is not the child star that you once knew.
She is at the helm of the control panel. It is her own media generation machine.
She is in the throes of the Amanda Bynes Syndrome.
We've seen it before, but social media did not tell the story the same way.
Britney Spears did not share her story. TMZ did.
Now we can all watch as a celebrity reports and documents her own seeming self-destruction or evolution with the attention and detail of the Maysles brothers. She can storyboard, unravel, recreate, self-destruct, reconstruct, tweet, delete, twerk, spin out, terrify, horrify, inspire, connect, block, hate, rage, love, scare, weave her life story on social media for the thousands who follow her.
Dear Amanda, sometimes, I find, it's helpful to not be alone in the bubble of social media. Or the bubble of party friends.
Sometimes it's nice to be with people who do not care about your money or your celebrity or your fame or your Twitter or your photos or your videos.
Maybe ask them to see you. They can see you too. Sometimes even better than the video camera can.
I exist. Look at me. Really look at me. I am different now.
I am looking at you, Amanda. I see you.
You are beautiful, but you are scaring all of us.
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.