The musician Sinead O’Connor has threatened to sue pop singer Miley Cyrus after an online row broke out between the two artists last week. Cyrus was accused by the Irish musician of mocking people who have suffered from mental health problems such as actress Amanda Bynes and O’Connor herself.

The row began when O’Connor wrote an open letter on her website to Cyrus which expressed worries that Cyrus was being “prostituted” by the music industry. The letter advised the former Disney Channel star that “Nothing but harm will come in the long run, hospital from allowing yourself to be exploited”. This prompted an angry response from Cyrus, rx who replied on twitter by comparing Sinead O’Connor’s past mental health issues with those of the actress Amanda Bynes, who is currently receiving psychiatric treatment.

O’Connor in response penned another open letter, in which she threatened legal action against Cyrus if the tweets were not removed. She stated “You have posted today tweets of mine which are two years old, which were posted by me when I was unwell and seeking help so as to make them look like they are recent. In doing so you mock myself and Amanda Bynes for having suffered with mental health issues and for having sought help”.

Many have leapt to the defence of both artists during the on-going online row. A spokesperson for the website Spunout.ie told the College Tribune that “there is a lot of work being done by fantastic organisations around the world to address the stigma associated with mental health, and unfortunately the actions of Miley Cyrus could potentially do a lot of damage to this work. I’m sure if she had thought about the consequences of her actions and the impact it has on all those people who have gone through mental health difficulties, many of whom are her fans I don’t think she would have been so reckless.”

Spunout.ie also spoke about how there seems to be an issue where people think that it is ok to mock people who have experienced mental health difficulties, adding “Would Miley have been so quick to mock someone with a physical illness such as Cancer? I don’t think she would have.”

However musician Amanda Palmer has defended Miley Cyrus’s actions in a letter which she addressed to O’Connor. Palmer disagreed that Cyrus was being exploited by the music industry and asserted that “I think it’s tempting to imagine her in the board room of label assholes and management, I don’t think any of them masterminded her current plan to be a raging, naked, twerking sexpot. I think that’s All Miley All The Way”.

O’Connor later was a guest on RTE’s The Late Late Show and appeared to downplay the feud. She stated during the interview that “I’m not pitching myself as a role model for anyone by a long shot or a perfect person…I was upset on behalf of Amanda Bynes, not for myself. I’m used to it”.

One good thing may have come from the online feud according to Spunout.ie is that the debate “has brought the stigma associated with mental health to the attention of many people who may not have known it otherwise existed. So hopefully, it will make people consider the pre-conceptions they have of someone with a mental illness and realise that one in four of us will experience a mental health difficulty at some stage.”

 

Thomas Cullen

Thomas Cullen