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Was Janelle Monáe Attacked with "Too Much Tuna?"

John Mulaney and Nick Kroll think that giving people giant mounds of tuna fish is a fun prank, but mercury poisoning is no joke

It was announced yesterday that Janelle Monáe will be joining the impressive lineup of musical acts performing at the Oscars this weekend.

It's reassuring news for anyone who may have been concerned about Monáe's health following an interview with The Cut released on Monday. In the interview, Monáe discussed her desire to be a mother, with the caveat that she is still recovering from a recent case of mercury poisoning that she developed as a result of her pescatarian diet. She said of the experience, "I started feeling my mortality."

Methyl-mercury—which is easy for the human body to absorb, but it takes a long time to filter out—can cause serious neurological symptoms and presents a particular danger to developing fetuses. That's why doctors advise avoiding or limiting intake of certain mercury-rich fish during pregnancy. But for an adult to develop mercury poisoning requires much higher doses.

Monáe also spoke of a desire "to skydive into different parts of my life." Taking that sort of leap into unfamiliar challenges has been a hallmark of a career in which she has found tremendous success as a singer, a songwriter, a rapper, a producer, and an actor. Without that bold approach to life, would she have ever starred in Moonlight or Hidden Figures? But perhaps it was a similarly head-long embrace of pescatarianism that caused her mercury issue. In a previous interview with Glamour she attributed her smooth, radiant skin to "a really great diet, you know, lots of vegetables and fish," but according to a video entitled "A Medically Inadvisable Amount of Tuna," a serious case of mercury poisoning can cause fatigue, muscle weakness, and even… peeling skin.

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Is it possible that Monáe's poisoning was no accident? Was it part of "prank" to sabotage her flawless skin?!

That clip is part of Nick Kroll and John Mulaney's prank show Too Much Tuna, in which they take on the characters of Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland in order to surprise celebrity guests with sandwiches stacked with humiliating amounts of tuna. Past guests subjected to this indignity have included Chris Pratt, Leslie Jones, and Adam Driver. It seemed that Kroll and Mulaney's reign of terror was finally over when their Broadway show Oh, Hello closed in 2017, but with Chance the Rapper's revival of the Punk'd series, the pair may have felt it was time to reunite.

We do not currently have the evidence to prove that Kroll and Mulaney were behind Monáe's illness, but tuna is among the most mercury-rich fish, meaning that "too much tuna" is a likely cause. If they relied on Monáe's pescatarian diet and her bold approach to life—did she "skydive" into actually eating one of those sandwiches?!—in order to inflict their brand of "comedy" on one of our most celebrated musical and dramatic talents, they must be stopped. We need to send a message that there's nothing funny about acute chemical poisoning: #TooMuchTooMuchTuna

"Too Much Tuna" Luke Fontana

Monáe also spoke with The Cut about the strangeness of being a public figure and how people create elaborate stories about celebrities based on scraps of information and figments of their imagination. Janelle Monáe will be performing at the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, February 9th, along with Billie Eilish, Elton John, Idina Menzel, and Randy Newman.

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