Nick Cannon's 'Open Letter' to Amanda Bynes Is Kinda Insulting

GossipMonger 17

Nick CannonNick Cannon would like Amanda Bynes to know that he has her back. Not only does he remember her as someone he considers family, based on their shared experience of starring in the Nickelodeon show All That in 1998-1999, but he describes her as "one of the most pleasant human beings I have had the pleasure of meeting." In a post on his website titled, "An open letter to my sister, Amanda Bynes," Cannon says he can personally identify with the destruction caused by Bynes' "access to excess" celebrity lifestyle, and that no one has the right to judge.

It's a sweet gesture ... but I'm kind of hung up on two things. One: shouldn't he have made this a private letter to his sister, Amanda Bynes? And two: I think the fact that Bynes is currently under involuntary psychiatric hold after months of increasingly freaky behavior means she's got bigger problems than being a former child star.

Cannon's letter is quite long, but the overall theme is that he empathizes with her problems and he wishes she had a better support system to navigate the tricky road of the entertainment industry. He also offers his personal support and encourages the public to stop making jokes about her, because he sees her situation as "as no laughing matter."
I agree that Bynes has gone far beyond the point where her antics seem strange but harmless, and I regret my own participation in turning her into a public spectacle. But I'm not sure I agree with Cannon's viewpoint that her current situation was brought on by fame. He writes,

When a person is told all of their life that they are awesome, the best, the greatest and they are catered to every moment of the day. Imagine being the breadwinner in your household before you can even drive. Imagine you parents, teachers, and employers NEVER telling you NO. Anything you ask for or want, the world gives you, at some point you are bound to self-destruct. I call this “access to excess". I’ve seen it happen to many of my friends and colleagues young and old. It goes back to that old saying; “Too much of anything is bad for anyone". Whether it’s fame, money, sex, drugs, attention. It’s all a dangerous addiction. When there is no balance in your life a person will always become victim to their reality or lack thereof.

Okay, I know what he's saying here -- after all, how many child stars have gone on to a tragically troubled adulthood? -- but it seems like Amanda Bynes is suffering from a serious mental disease. Sure, her public meltdown was likely exacerbated by the things he mentions, but reports of her strange behavior (including a 3 a.m. Twitter announcement back in 2010 that she was retiring from acting) have been floating around for years.

Cannon says that what the media calls "crazy" is actually Bynes' lack of a support system:

The question is, when this destruction occurs, who is there to help put back the pieces. What do you do when you have no solid support system? When you feel like your friends are talking behind your back. When you feel like your co-workers are jealous and out to competitively sabotage you. When you feel your family has turned your back on you. When you feel like you parents have a conditional appreciation for you and only really love your money. You find yourself alone in that dark hole. Then you have to rely on your own devices once again in this vulnerable state. You become paranoid, frantic, manic, irrational because you can bounce your thoughts or ideas off of anyone anymore.

Again, I don't totally disagree -- I can imagine that Bynes' transition from Nickelodeon darling to young Hollywood celeb may have affected her in a number of negative ways. It's just that it seems like he's discounting the very real possibility that Bynes' behavior has been caused by a chronic mental condition.

Recent reports have surfaced that Bynes has been suffering from schizophrenia, a disorder than can result in hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behavior. According to TMZ, she's currently taking a combination of medications to treat this condition -- and the good news is that she's been responding dramatically over the last three days.

Nick Cannon's letter surely came from the right place, but when he publicly states that he understands what she's going through ... well, I doubt he does. And honestly, it comes off as a little insulting -- to Bynes, and maybe particularly to her friends and family -- to insinuate she could have avoided all of this if she'd just had the right people by her side.

What do you think of Nick Cannon's letter to Amanda Bynes? Do you think he's misunderstanding her situation?

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JAK_m... JAK_momma_2_4

He made the letter public to raise awareness about the problem, and to also try and show support for her and get people to back off. I think it was a wonderful and touching thing to do.

Barbara Palaith-Newson

Who are you to question any of this?  Why not write about something you actually have first hand knowledge of and the people involved?

tessi... tessiekat

Thank you JAK_momma_2_4. It was a really touching thing to do! Why are you questioning it?

nonmember avatar kaerae

Mental illness needs to stop being viewed as a sin or a character flaw. The brain is an organ like any other, and we wouldn't be blaming her if her kidneys or heart malfunctioned. You cannot will schizophrenia away, it is not a choice.

nonmember avatar sandy

While the author's views are well-considered and -articulated, I disagree with three major points. First, regarding the public vs. private issue, Nick not only realizes that a public show of support is the strongest statement one can make these days, he specifically aims to address social media users who may have contributed to Amanda's decline. Also, Amanda's bizarre messages were sent via public media, so Nick's choice likely is quite comfortable for her.
As for her mental state, clearly she had an underlying propensity to mental illness, and the pressures and publicity surrounding her show biz decline surely triggered the dormant condition. I do not at all think his letter is "insulting":rather, I believe his own experience showed him how easy it would be to really lose hold of one's reality outside the entertainment world.
Finally, lack of support most definitely contributes to rapid onset and progression of mental illness: To feel misunderstood, alone, and without resources is about the worst configuration for anyone with mental illness.
I say "well done, Nick": it has been awful to witness Amanda's decline, and I, for one, am relieved she stayed alive long enough to get some help.

Janice Roach

I think I would definitely like to have a friend like Nick Cannon in my corner, so what is "insulting" about his letter? She has been making her behavior a public matter, so where better to address this than in the public. She should have better people around her, they would have gotten her the help she needed, before she began making a fool of herself for the public to see and make comments about! I think your Article is INSULTING to Nick.

nonmember avatar Jessica

Nick Cannon just won some major respect points from me. He may be reaching out to Amanda privately, too, but it's clear his intention here is to defend her publicly. Amanda probably does have an underlying mental illness, and it's wonderful to read it seems she is getting the help she needs. But, celebrity, as Nick said, can take the most stable, grounded person and very quickly make them lose touch with reality. I'm often thankful that my success in the entertainment field has come very gradually, because I have had to work very hard to keep my head from floating right off my shoulders in times when I'm receiving praise and media attention - and that is as a 37-year-old whose praise and publicity has been about 1/100 of what Amanda Bynes has received every day since she was a young child. I can't imagine experiencing that from a young age, especially with an underlying mental condition. Many prayers to Amanda, and kudos to Nick. As for you, maybe find something more fulfilling to do than search for ways to criticize someone doing something nice.


I agree with JAK_momma_2_4~~well said.  I thought the letter was wonderful...and to make it public is even better.  His "stock" shot up for me.  He reminded me that they were friends back in the Nickelodeon days.  I just hope everything works out for her.

Marna Engel Gatlin

You know Linda I love you but you're off the mark on this. Who are you or anyone to question what he's doing? He supporting someone he clearly loves. So what if he's doing it in public? Mental illness is something that is still treated with a lot of shame. So is addiction. We need to support those with mental illness and addiction more now than ever.

Mori Lemau

Nick may have been talking about understanding Amanda's  public scrutiny  as a celebrity. Either way, Cannon did a great thing by openly showing support to a woman who clearly needs all the help and understandoing that she could get at this time in her life. I don't see any other major celebrities backing Amanda up at this time. Much respect to Nick Cannon. 

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