Celebrity

Leave Amanda Bynes Alone. Seriously.

Amanda Bynes has been everywhere lately. Sadly, it’s not because of an upcoming film project or television series, but because of her wellness, which appears to be in decline. I am not a doctor, nor is anyone on the LivLuna team, so we cannot diagnose any medical conditions. We are also not a gossip site. We do not wish to perpetuate any negative fodder about Bynes, but we do want to talk about the unfair coverage surrounding her and current state, one that’s all too familiar for many former child stars.

 

Every day, there seems to be a new item about Bynes–getting arrested for posession, tweeting about how she wants Drake to “murder her vagina,” throwing racially charged shade at Rhianna and then deleting it, denying she was involved in a photoshoot where she’s clearly in the photos, etc. But rather than just comment on what’s happening, many blogs seem to want to snark on her, how “crazy” she is, how she needs help, trying to diagnose her, etc. I’ve seen comments from people asking these blogs to stop, and I agree with them–they’re making things worse for Bynes. I believe a lot of it seems to stem from the fact that most people were first introduced to her when she was ten years old, and are now kind of stuck thinking of her as an eternal tween/teen, where she famously delivered quotes about how happy she was to live with her parents, how she wasn’t big on partying, so on and so forth.

 

However, let’s be honest. Bynes is twenty-seven now. She’s not going to be the same as she when she was a teenager. While I agree that there is something off about her behavior, I think that if people let go of the Bynes fromWhat I Like About Youand She’s The Man, they’ll be able to see that she is a woman who is in distress and needs to be helped, not shamed and ridiculed because she grew up. She’s being held to quotes from several years ago.

 

It’s not just her, either–Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus (who brilliantly called out critics for putting her on par with far worse people on SNL a while ago) Lindsay Lohan–are all former child stars who turned into troubled adults. Can we say that fame has had an effect? Mara Wilson seems to think so–yesterday, the former child actress wrote a wonderful piece for Cracked called “7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider’s Perspective),” recalling the time a reporter asked her what she thought about the Hugh Grant/Divine Brown scandal on the red carpet when she was seven, and finding photos of her feet on an adult foot fetish website when she was twelve.

 

While I’m not saying fame is the direct cause, it certainly doesn’t help anything. At the end of her piece, Wilson points out that some movies are starting to use CGI babies and while the technology is flawed, perhaps that will divert parents and kids from wanting to enter a business no one is ever really ready for, let alone a child. So, while Bynes would probably still have her issues whether or not she was a child star, perhaps they wouldn’t be as bad and they definitely wouldn’t be as public.

 

It’s easy to read of Bynes’ recent escapades and roll your eyes and/or comment on blogs, but it isn’t really helping anything. While it is hard to ignore a headline about someone throwing a bong out of a thirty-seven story window, don’t comment on it, don’t joke about it, just keep walking. Allow Bynes to disappear from the press, and maybe she’ll finally realize that the attention she’s receiving isn’t positive, it’s negative and not helping her in any way. Again, I’m aware it’s awkward to say “stop talking about her!” on a blog and I don’t know what her exact issue is, but enough is enough. The entertainment magazines need to stop reporting on her quotes and stop publishing rage inducing articles going into depth about her rough time.

 

Think about it this way–if this were someone you were close to being put on blast when there’s something not right with them, would you be happy knowing that others are getting a cheap thrill out of their issues splashed across a tabloid or a blog? Probably not.

 

So, should we leave Bynes alone, or do you think the negative press will push her into treatment? Or will it just fuel her behavior even further?

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Political

No Food Stamps For Felons Is Racist and Sexist

The Conservatives just don’t know when to quit, do they? It’s not just about reproductive rights this time–it’s about the right to food. Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) has created an amendment to a proposed Farm Bill that is currently being considered in the senate that would ban violent felons from being able to receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Acceptance Program, aka food stamp) benefits for life, no matter how long ago the crime was committed, or the circumstances surrounding the crime. If they’re currently receiving benefits, they get kicked off. The amendment was unanimously accepted by the senate, and is currently being reviewed by the House of Representatives.

The amendment reads:

“(1) IN GENERAL.—An individual shall not be eligible for benefits under this Act if the individual is convicted of—

  (A) aggravated sexual abuse under section 2241 of title 18, United States Code;

  (B) murder under section 1111 of title 18, United States Code;

  (C) an offense under chapter 110 of title 18, United States Code;

  (D) a Federal or State offense involving sexual assault, as defined in 40002(a) of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C. 13925(a)); or

  (E) an offense under State law determined by the Attorney General to be substantially similar to an offense described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).”

Another paragraph of Vitter’s amendment is also troublesome:

“(2) EFFECTS ON ASSISTANCE AND BENEFITS FOR OTHERS.—The amount of benefits otherwise required to be provided to an eligible household under this Act shall be determined by considering the individual to whom paragraph (1) applies not to be a member of such household, except that the income and resources of the individual shall be considered to be income and resources of the household.”

This is a big, big problem for several reasons. Someone who may have been convicted years, or even decades ago, for aggravated sexual abuse or sexual assault, even if they have served their sentence and been released, would lose food stamp eligibility. Even if the crimes may have been convicted in someone’s youth (think statutory rape cases;) the person served his sentence and has since been integrated back into the community, but as a low-income person, needs food stamps. By Vitter’s standards, that’s enough for disqualification.

Why isn’t this amendment taking circumstances surrounding the crime into consideration?  What if the violent crime was an act of self defense? Should a woman protecting herself against a rapist or stalker be denied benefits because she was fighting for her life? Nope, because that’d be too much extra work. According to Vitter, all crimes are equal.

It also doesn’t take into consideration people who are raising families–the convicted is disqualified for the benefits, so the SNAP now covers a family of three instead of four. However, his or her income would still count against the household’s calculation for food stamp benefits, which barely feeds a family anyway. It doesn’t make sense.

Two-thirds of SNAP recipients are children, elderly or the disabled, and two-fifths of SNAP households live below half the poverty line.  The amendment would hit African Americans particularly hard as, according to Robert Greenstein, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

“Given incarceration patterns in the United States, the amendment would have a skewed racial impact. Poor elderly African Americans convicted of a single crime decades ago by segregated Southern juries would be among those hit.”

Of course, Vitter is claiming that his amendment is only aimed at preventing those convicted of violent crimes from obtaining benefits, apparently under the logic that stripping them of what may be their only form of income assistance will lead to less violence.

This whole amendment just reeks of racism and sexism. Once again, a wealthy, white, male politician is trying to keep the poor down. The Republicans talk a lot of guff about “people just need to work! Be like me, work your way up!” It’s all lip service. This is not about trying to teach criminals a lesson, this is about hurting specific demographics under the guise of “fixing a problem.” A lot of conservatives cry “focus on the family! focus on the family!” Okay. So, if this mother committed a crime, yet is trying to rehabilitate herself and raise her family yet needs some assistance, you take it away from her, it’s not helping. You’re just creating more poverty. (and by the way, telling someone to “get a job at McDonald’s” is not conducive. Many positions are only part time, and most fast food/food retail jobs don’t pay enough in non-management positions, so many employees qualify for SNAP benefits.)

So what’s a good solution? I’m at a loss, LivLunatics. I’m so angry about this amendment, that’s clearly targeting a specific group of people and feeding on stereotypes. What’s your take on this situation? Is Vitter’s amendment a good intentioned one, or should it be rejected?

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