Monday, April 15, 2024

Ariana Grande Faces Backlash Over Silence on Nickelodeon Abuse Claims

HomeEntertainmentAriana Grande Faces Backlash Over Silence on Nickelodeon Abuse Claims

A bombshell documentary series is shedding light on the dark underbelly of the beloved children’s TV network Nickelodeon. “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” alleges abuse and misconduct were rampant behind the scenes of hit shows like “Drake & Josh.” As some stars come forward with shocking claims, the silence of others is being criticized.

The four-part docuseries makes explosive allegations against former Nickelodeon employee Brian Peck, who served as a dialogue coach on several programs. Drake Bell, who starred alongside Josh Peck in the 2000s comedy “Drake & Josh,” accuses Brian Peck of sexually assaulting him as a teenager.

“I was abused, not just by this man, but by an entire system that failed to protect me,” an emotional Bell states in footage from the documentary.

Bell’s disturbing accusations have sent shockwaves through an industry already reeling from the #MeToo movement’s exposure of widespread sexual misconduct in Hollywood and elsewhere. Many are praising the actor’s bravery in speaking out after remaining silent for years.

“When someone with such immense fame and influence decides to open up about such a traumatic experience, it gives courage to other survivors to have their voices heard as well,” said Dr. Elizabeth Jeglic, a psychology professor and sexual abuse expert at John Jay College.

However, not every former Nickelodeon star has publicly addressed the documentary’s incendiary claims so far. The lack of statements from figures like Ariana Grande and Josh Peck, in particular, has drawn criticism from some observers.

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“Ariana Grande being silent about everything is DEAFENING,” one person alleged on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. Another post bluntly stated, “There is no excuse AT ALL for any past Nickelodeon stars to stay silent here.”

The backlash towards those who haven’t spoken up illustrates the intense pressure survivors of abuse and their peers face in an era of digital vigilance. Psychologists say making judgements about private trauma is unwise.

“No one should experience abuse, and as such we seek accountability,” said Jeglic. “Others may also choose not to speak out as it is not their story to tell. It takes courage to share stories of abuse, and if individuals with more notoriety who have little to add chime in, it can take the power and agency away from the survivor who has come forward.”

Josh Peck, Bell’s former co-star, eventually released a statement on Thursday acknowledging he had reached out to Bell privately after initially staying mum.

“Reliving this publicly is incredibly difficult,” the actor wrote on Instagram. “I cannot imagine how hard this has been for my friend.”

Bell himself defended Peck from online critics, saying in a TikTok video, “I just want you guys to know that he has reached out to me, and it’s been very sensitive. But he has reached out to talk with me and help me work through this and has been really, really great.”

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The muting of nostalgia around once-beloved shows from people’s childhoods is perhaps an inevitable consequence of abuse claims like these coming to light. Warm recollections of zany Nickelodeon hijinks can quickly curdle into disgust over alleged depravity happening backstage.

“Documentaries like these often invoke wild, wide-ranging reactions,” said Chase Cassine, a licensed clinical social worker. “Abuse allegations on the sets of TV shows one may have enjoyed as a child infect fond memories and snarl nostalgia into something nasty.”

There’s also a tendency to assume if abuse occurred, then it must have been an open secret among all involved. That’s not necessarily accurate, according to experts.

“We know that those who engage in abusive behaviors target certain individuals, and they may portray themselves in a positive light to others so that the abuse can go on undetected,” Jeglic explained.

“Given that most children do not disclose abuse when it happens, others are often not aware it is going on and may view the abuser in a positive light,” she said.

The documentarians behind “Quiet on Set” have not publicly accused major Nickelodeon stars like Grande of being complicit in any alleged misdeeds. The pop diva herself has still faced online vitriol over her ongoing silence.

“For celebrities like Ariana Grande, people are so quick to make judgements without understanding the full context,” said Maryanne Fisher, a psychology professor at St. Mary’s University in Canada.

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“When someone speaks up to show support, it might be perceived as taking away the focus – somehow shifting the limelight away from what really matters or the actual victims,” Fisher said.

For those who did spend significant time around the alleged abuser Brian Peck, a complex array of emotions likely arises regardless of whether they experienced abuse firsthand.

“Even if they are not the victims, they may have complex emotions once the abuse is discovered,” said Lenore Walker, an emeritus psychology professor at Nova Southeastern University. “It is easy for the public to blame others rather than putting the responsibility on the system for tolerating and even facilitating such exploitation.”

Sustained backlash towards those who haven’t addressed the Nickelodeon allegations is somewhat puzzling to the experts. Above all, they say, the survivors’ own voices should be centered.

“Rather than getting mad at people who have appeared to remain silent, the focus should remain on genuinely supporting those who need it – not judging others external to the situation,” said Fisher.

As more revelations seem inevitable, that ability to withhold judgement while offering empathy to victims may become critically important. The dark side of kids’ TV appears darker than anyone could have imagined.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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