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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Editorial | Victims do not owe us their stories

Quiet+on+Set%3A+The+Dark+Side+of+Kids+TV+%282024%29
Image via IMDB
Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV (2024)

Max’s docuseries “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” aired one week ago, exposing the sexist, abusive and predatory conditions of the people working for Dan Schneider on ‘90s and early 2000s Nickelodeon TV shows. It covered almost everything from Schneider’s sexually suggestive physical comedy to the alleged sexual abuse of Drake Bell by dialogue coach Brian Peck.

But it left some key questions unanswered, driving many online to search for the answers themselves.

Most notably, Amanda Bynes, star of “The Amanda Show,” did not appear in the docuseries. Many former cast members interviewed in “Quiet on Set” suggested Schneider took a particular liking to Bynes, and recently people have dug up old Twitter posts supposedly posted by Bynes under a pseudonym claiming she became pregnant at 13 by her boss.

Many ran with these pieces of information without concern for the larger consequences. Online detective work and speculation ultimately do little to uncover the truth and do a lot to harm the subjects of the speculation. If these actors have decided not to share their stories publicly, they certainly do not want to see people trying to piece together their difficult past.

As much as we may want justice or to set the record straight, it is not anyone’s place to pressure victims of abuse into telling the world their story. A large part of Bell’s story in the docuseries centered on how desperately he did not want anyone to know he was a victim when Peck was finally arrested. These actors deserve as much privacy now as they did on the sets of Nickelodeon. It takes a long time to heal, and having strangers on the internet beg you to relive the trauma publicly only prolongs that process.

Support for these actors is a wonderful thing to offer, but people still often use it as a Trojan horse to deliver their real message — asking for information. “Kind” words encouraging Bynes to write an autobiography because everyone would love to buy her books and support her work are not genuine, caring comments. They are a prettier way of saying, “Tell me what they did to you as a child for my own entertainment.” Words of support should only offer love without asking for anything in return, even implicitly.

Victims will come forward when they are ready and want to. There are people in their personal lives who have the ability to help them recover and offer advice on whether or not to bring their stories to the public. As unfortunate as some may find it, a random 20-something tweeting that going public is what’s best for the former child star probably does not know as much about Bynes as her trusted friends or mental health counselors.

The best we can do for all the possible victims of Schneider’s reign who did not share their stories in the docuseries is to treat them like the kind of people they are — that is, people you don’t know. You would never ask a stranger to share their abuse, and a celebrity status should not change this principle.

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