If years had celebrity doppelgängers, then 2018 is Bella Thorne.
Thorne spent the last 12 months oscillating between moments of uncomfortable sincerity and total douchebaggery with almost seamless, purposeful precision. She’s a post-Disney darling-dirtbag; she’s hungry for progress but unaware of how to get there. She values political action and paints “FUCK POLITICS” on a canvas teepee in her multi-million dollar mansion funded by Instagram ads. She’s vocal about MeToo and speaks openly about her childhood sexual assault; she’s been accused of ripping off black-owned brands as well as feminist collective Pussy Riot. She’s obnoxious and wonderful and completely nuance-free; Thorne is the perfect celebrity for our imperfect year.
Now, let’s revisit her curiously fascinating 2018 to better understand our own.
The beginning of 2018 saw Thorne trapped in a tiny white room with an equally white dude in dreads, playing a Mountain Dew-green bass in front of a swaying Tana Mongeau, the infamous YouTuber known for oversharing drunken exploits through a hungover rasp. She has nearly four million subscribers. She’s also Thorne’s girlfriend.
A week later, in a dramatic tonal shift, Thorne revealed that she was sexually and physically abused as a child. She did so through an unexpected reply to a distasteful tweet someone sent her after she posted a photo of herself in a V-neck dress. “What did Disney do to this girl?! I think she was molested,” the now-deleted post read, to which Thorne replied, “Yeah I was. So it wasn’t Disney.”
She later went in a bit more detail on Instagram. “I waited for it to stop and finally it did,” Bella wrote in a caption. “But some of us aren’t as lucky to get out alive.” It marked the first time Thorne would speak openly and courageously about a personal history of abuse, but not the last.
And at the end of the month, Thorne and her PigPen-channeling rapper boyfriend Mod Sun, along with three other miscellaneous baddies, potentially including Mongeau, were kicked out of a Marriott in Utah during Sundance after getting caught smoking weed. (You read “boyfriend” correctly—Thorne identifies as bisexual, has a boyfriend and a girlfriend.)
Anyway, so Thorne and posse were in Park City promoting the critically-acclaimed Assassination Nation when a Page Six “spy” saw them make a run for it:
“They were seen rushing out of the hotel hours before the premiere. There were so many bags, they needed a trail car to carry them... She called in sick for most of her press interviews on Monday. She canceled everything in the morning.”
Things quieted down a bit in February for Thorne. She called out Seventeen Latin for trying to “pin” her and her former Disney co-star, Zendaya, in a “beauty battle.” She’s right, of course, she just... needs an editor?
In an interview with Forbes, Thorne spoke publicly about her sexual assault for the first time. She told the publication she wanted to come forward for a while, but was afraid of retribution in Hollywood:
“I’ve been thinking about saying it for a really long time. I was just sad. Someone said, “Was it Disney or were you just molested?” I was like, “No it wasn’t Disney. And yes I was.” I was just so angry that I just tweeted it out.
And then I was like, “Oh, do I delete it?” And I was like, “No.” And then I called my manager, Thor, and I told him, “Look at my tweet. Is it bad?” And he said, “No Bella. There’s nothing bad about this. This is good. You are no less of a person because this has happened to you.”
And that was like one of the first times someone actually said that to me, since it happened, and it really meant the world to me.”
A few weeks later, she joined March for Our Lives wearing clothes better suited for a rave. On the same day, her teen flick Midnight Sun dropped, a movie in which she plays a lovelorn teen who is allergic to the sun.
And before the month ended, Thorne launched Filthy Fangs, a largely disorganized, scenester-y multimedia brand/record label offering merchandise including but not limited to neon track pants, $12 cotton thongs emboldened with the word “filthy” on the crotch, grinders, t-shirt collaborations with controversial YouTube personalities and $5 Bic lighters. Remember the name Filthy Fangs, it will haunt Thorne later in the year.
In April, Vogue in collaboration with Vice released a mini-documentary about Bella Thorne. As I wrote upon its release: its nuts, but also normal and cluelessly adolescent. Think of it as a nearly 20-minute elongated version of Jughead’s “I’m a weirdo” speech from Season 1 of Riverdale. In it, she shows off a massive dinosaur statue, beautiful walls destroyed by finger paint and gratuitous marijuana leaf iconography, and, of course, her infamous teepee.
Can you feel the marketable whimsy?
Thorne, concerned you don’t know who she is, releases the Madonna-channeling, early Kesha-sprechgesang single, “Bitch, I’m Bella Thorne.” Because, bitch, she’s Bella Thorne.
Later, Thorne “rally the Texas boarder,” alongside Lena Dunham, making her miss Mongeau’s 20th birthday.
Bella did not celebrate the 4th of July.
Much to the relief of beauty YouTubers Jeffree Starr, James Charles, Laura Lee and pretty much everyone else in the small, excessively messy BeauTuber community, Bella Thorne entered the makeup mogul game with two extremely expensive eyeshadow palettes and immediately found herself embroiled in controversy. Fans of the affordable, black-owned brand Juvia’s Place claimed Thorne was ripping off designs and honestly, the packing for the palettes do look mighty similar. Bella blamed the similar aesthetic on her manufacturer and eventually, the story faded into obscurity. Nothing was ever resolved. The makeups, unsurprisingly, sold out immediately.
Oh, and she let the world know she owns 19 cats:
Ride, a thriller starring Bella in which she portrays a kidnapped Lyft customer, hit theaters. I’m unaware of anyone who actually saw this movie.
Thorne is profiled in the Los Angeles Times—perhaps the most generous and honest portrait of her yet—where she alleges Freeform, the network on which her recently canceled show Famous in Love ran, called her “ugly... in e-mails.” She says “...there was another thing that was in front of everyone on set. After, the cast was texting me, ‘Oh, my God, Bella. I am so sorry. That was so awkward. I feel so bad. Do you want me to come over to your room?’ ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe they did that.’ It was all supposed to change on Season 2, and it didn’t.”
Thorne also alleged that Disney tried to fire her off of the show she starred in alongside Zendaya, Shake It Up, at age 13, after she was photographed in a bikini and shamed by Perez Hilton on his blog. He wrote that he’d “really be more comfortable if she would just cover up,” which is apparently more than enough to send the ultra-conservatives at Disney spinning.
And nearish the end of the profile, Thorne’s whimsy (there’s a ton of stuff about her smoking weed, her 19 cats, her affinity for rave gear) loses out to her honesty, and she cries on the journalist’s lap. It’s a beautiful human moment.
A final drama to close out the year: Russian punk activist-musicians Pussy Riot tweeted that some of Thorne’s new Filthy Fangs merch—neon ski masks—look pretty similar to their now-iconic protest attire—neon ski masks. Bella responded by quote tweeting the initial comment with the caption, “FUCK THE RED SQUARE.” It never went further than that and it’s unclear whether Thorne totally understood they meant.
Who knows what horrors and delights await Thorne in 2019, but whatever they are, you’re now better prepared.