Lindsay Lohan

Splash News

Stop keeping score.

Which ex-child star is "going bad"? Which one turned out "good"?

Just stop keeping score.

Lindsay Lohan wasn't exactly keeping score the other night when she tweeted she was aggrieved by Amanda Bynes' freedom in spite of an alleged DUI and repeated car-related mishaps, but Lohan was adhering to the child-star meme that tracks the "bad" and the "good," and does so in the most simplistic of fashions.

Bynes, the former Nickelodeon standout who was once good, had now "gone bad"; Lohan, the onetime Disney starlet who was once good and had then "gone bad," with her own challenged record, was now by comparison good-ish.

Or between arrests, as things turned out early Wednesday in New York City.

Lohan, now accused of leaving the scene of an accident after allegedly striking a pedestrian with her car, better hope the line between "good" and "bad" is thicker than we've drawn it—because we've drawn it awfully thin.

For some time now, our pop culture has been consumed with the idea that child stars, upon graduating from high-school roles, either go good or bad. The ones who get arrested are the bad; the ones who maintain their stardom and avoid the police blotter are the good. (The ones who retreat from the spotlight, neither acting in front of the camera nor posing for mug shots, are neither good nor bad—they're forgotten.)

By that definition, we're all one car (or train) wreck away from bad. By that definition, Al Capone was one of the good guys for most of his mobster life.

The reality is nuanced. Child stars who "go bad" aren't spawns of Satan; they're people whose lives are depressingly familiar to many—they're people who come from damaged homes, they're people who are sick, they're people who are hooked. They're people. They're good and they're bad.

If we want to stop child stars from "going bad," we might want to think twice about our labeling practices.

And also about tweeting from glass houses. That'll help, too.

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