Conservative-leaning Employment Policies Institute may be exploiting personal tragedy to score political points.
The non-profit think tank unveiled a new eye-catching billboard in Los Angeles that attempts to link Amanda Bynes' high-profile meltdown to unemployment levels among teen workers. Never mind the fact that at 27, the former Nickelodeon actress has been out of her teenage years for nearly a decade.
The billboard asks: “Is Amanda Bynes Wigging Out About Teen Unemployment?”
Without answering whether Bynes' DUI, bong tossing and underwear-clad selfies are cries for help on behalf of job-seeking youngsters, the ad then segues into an attack on attempts to raise pay rates.
"Unfortunately, raising the minimum wage will only make things worse,” the ad concludes.
The group, which quotes Bureau of Labor Statistics to argue that teen unemployment levels stand at 24 percent, has ties to businesses such as restaurants, industries that historically have profited from low-wage labor. Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute, said that in this cases teens represented people between 16 to 19 years of age.
Just don't ask Saltsman to explain the logical connection between this employment crisis and Bynes' escalating series of public relations debacles. He admitted that Bynes' meltdown has nothing to do with teen unemployment.
"I don't think there’s supposed to be a logical link here," he said. "The idea is to use people who lots of folks recognize."
That said, he argued that the group was not exploiting Bynes' situation but rather using her legal headaches to spark debate.
"We're using people in the news to make a point and to get people talking about teens being out of work this summer," Saltsman said. "There's a lot of discussion about this on the pages of the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal, but it's not reaching young people because they may not be reading those publications."
He also justified the choice of Bynes, who is closer to 30 than high school, by noting her former work on teen-skewing shows like "All That" and "The Amanda Show."
A spokesman for Bynes did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This is not the first time Employment Policies Institute has minded the gossip headlines to make a point. In May, the organization attempted to link Justin Bieber's recent spate of partying and touring shenanigans to the unemployment crisis among Americans too young to drink or often vote legally.