It’s no secret that The Tonight Show With Jay Leno can be pretty mean-spirited and also pretty unfunny. Last night’s “Kid Metaphors” segment was both, and it added in a new pet peeve of mine — making mean jokes about Amanda Bynes — to create a perfect storm of unfunny, stale meanness. Not only are these Amanda Bynes jokes getting really old, but they fail to acknowledge that Amanda Bynes’ problems might be caused by something deeper than a sense of entitlement or a life in the spotlight. As we’ve said before, we’re not doctors, but it seems like there might be mental illness involved, and it’s certainly a different situation from Lindsay Lohan feeling entitled to switch rehabs every other day.
The Tonight Show recruited correspondent Brian Palermo to do one of those “kids say the darndest things”-type segments wherein he presents the kids with a story that serves as a metaphor for a topical issue. And of course the kids’ responses to the made-up stories sound just like they’re talking about the current event and oh my isn’t it just the most hilarious thing? (It isn’t.) There are a variety of topics covered, but one of them is Amanda Bynes’ recent troubles. The “metaphor” Brian Palermo uses to explain the issue to the kids is that of a monkey who is recruited for the circus (i.e., show business) and spoiled with all the bananas she wants. Eventually that monkey starts acting crazy and drinking beer. Of course the kids declare that the circus treated the monkey too well and she feels entitled, and they should keep it away from beer, because that’s the message the show wants to send about Amanda Bynes.
There are so many problems with this. First of all, choosing a circus monkey as the metaphor is insulting in itself, but it also furthers the idea that Amanda is this sideshow act for us to watch for entertainment. But it’s become clear that we can’t keep viewing her that way and egging her on (as too many celebrities have been doing on Twitter), since there seems to be a more serious problem at hand. Plus, writing her behavior off as a result of being a spoiled former child star with a substance abuse problem leaves out the possibility of getting her help. It’s not very compassionate and also not very funny.
You can watch this immature bit play out in the video below, starting at about 2:00. Now can we please stop making Amanda Bynes the butt of overdone jokes and allow her to get the help she needs?