Now that Britney Spears has been freed from her father’s allegedly toxic influence over her conservatorship, the ever-watchful eye of the Internet is turning its attention on another child star who finds herself under a similar legal restriction — Amanda Bynes.
For those unfamiliar, Amanda Bynes got her start in acting when she was six years old before eventually getting her breakout role on the Nickelodeon sketch series All That. When she ended her run there, she was given her very own sketch series on the network titled The Amanda Show. Eventually, that led to more mainstream success in films like Hairspray, Big Fat Liar and Easy A. Eventually, though, she retired from acting around 2010. What followed was a string of personal debacles that included wild Twitter rants and some issues with substance abuse that landed her in some legal trouble. In 2014 she was arrested on a DUI. A year prior to that, clearly recognizing that the former child star was in some kind of mental health distress, she was placed under a conservatorship by her parents that were similar to the one Britney Spears so painstakingly freed herself from.
Now as Britney Spears’ journey remains the fan-beloved legal triumph of the year, some are already setting their sights on Amanda Bynes’ conservatorship, questioning its effectiveness and whether or not it’s as woefully restrictive and nefarious as the pop singer’s seemed to be. It’s easy, after all, to draw a comparison between the two women. They both were immensely popular child stars in the 1990s and early 2000s, they both suffered from high-profile mental health episodes in the public eye and they were both placed in a conservatorship by their parents. However, there are some key differences between them.
The first of which is simply that Britney Spears’ conservatorship received so much more attention. While countless headlines have been written about her court battle, earlier this month, when a judge extended Amanda Bynes’ conservatorship to 2023, it went relatively unnoticed in the public eye.
The other difference between Amanda Bynes and Britney Spears’ conservatorships, though, is that the former’s may be more necessary and less exploitative than the latter’s. While no one knows for sure except the legal parties involved, reporter Doha Madani, who has covered Bynes extensively for NBC News, spoke on the Buzzfeed Daily podcast where she discussed the core differences between the #FreeBritney movement and the #FreeAmanda movement that has picked up steam on social media in recent days.
The first thing she noted was that, unlike Britney Spears who was performing full-time and had an exhaustive schedule, Amanda Bynes has merely been a fashion design student for the past several years. Her retirement from acting seems to have stuck. So, therefore, there’s significantly less money at stake when it comes to Bynes’ cash flow. In addition, it seems that her family is significantly less interested in profiting off of her than Jamie Spears allegedly was. In 2017, Amanda Bynes’ family gave her control of her money back. Now, everything in Bynes’ name goes into a trust, making it more difficult for anyone to make off with it. Instead, her conservatorship mostly focuses on medical issues.
While Amanda Bynes has seemingly made great strides since her days of substance abuse in the early 2010s, the fact of the matter is that she keeps a relatively private life compared to Britney Spears. Her social media presence is few and far between, but Madani notes that what does trickle in can often be a little bit erratic or alarming.
When Spears took to the courts to point out she was capable of running her own life, the public saw how much she was undertaking in her career to prove that point. In Amanda Bynes’ case, however, there are fewer opportunities for the public to gauge how in control of her mental health she is. Although, what few opportunities there are haven’t exactly been convincing.
In the end, with Amanda Bynes not stumping for her own freedom the way Britney Spears had to, with precious little money being in the mix and with the star’s mental health still an active work in progress (great strides in the past decade well-noted) it seems there’s less fervor behind the #FreeAmanda movement for good reason.