America’s beloved celebrity darlings of movies and music aren’t always loved as much elsewhere around the world. Even with their tremendous fame and wealth, once and a while a celebrity will do something so offensive (or downright illegal) that a foreign country will do more than cancel their concerts or ban their movies – they’ll refuse to let these celebs through passport control.
Maybe it’s unsurprising. Celebrities are a constant fixture on the landscape of modern media, and as such their influence is undeniable. But their fame certainly doesn’t guarantee invulnerability – in fact, it is exactly their influence which leaves them open to being made examples of, if they misbehave. If your average person behaved like the following celebrities, perhaps resulting in their banishment from an entire nation, hardly anyone would bat an eyelid. But because these celebrities are viewed by millions of people around the world, countries act fast and come down hard when they feel they’ve been insulted by the celeb in question. Regardless of what they did, no matter how minor the insult, the celebrities in the following list have been banned from these foreign countries.
This list is compiled based on news stories from publications such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Mirror and Metro.
10. Roman Polanski – United States
Roman Polanski, the director behind classic films such as China Town, was charged in Los Angeles for his offences against a 13-year old girl. The charges ranged from sodomy to rape by the use of drugs. To escape more charges and probable imprisonment, he fled to Paris in 1978, safe from being extradited to the United States. Although he continues to make movies in Europe, he has never set foot back in the United States ever since. As a wanted fugitive, he faces certain prison time if he ever returns to the United States.
9. Paris Hilton – Japan
Paris Hilton, the mega-star hotel heiress, has been banned from Japan since 2010. When she arrived in Japan for a promotional tour, Japanese officials told her to turn back. She was not welcomed into the country because of her previous drug conviction. The drug in question was cocaine, a common narcotic among Hollywood socialites and celebrities. She was kept over night for six hours and questioned by Japanese officials.
8. Russell Brand – Guantanamo Bay
As he will admit, Russell Brand has a sorted past of sex and drug addiction. But that wasn’t what got him completely banned from Guantanamo Bay. Or maybe it was. Although the area is located in Cuba, the land is technically considered sovereign American land. As a British citizen, Brand is not allowed to even have his work, including the second volume of his memoirs, Booky Wook 2, to be read by Guantanamo Bay citizens. According to Shaker Aamer, it may be due to his use of “too many rude words.”
7. Lady Gaga – Malaysia
It wasn’t Lady Gaga’s outrageous fashion sense that got her banned from Malaysia — it was a song that vehemently advocated gay rights. The song, Born This Way, encouraged Malaysian (and all) homosexuals to be proud of their sexually, and even rise up for peaceful protests against a homophobic government. Because of the song that challenged Malaysian taboos, her concert tour was not allowed in the country. No concert tour, no Lady Gaga.
6. Alec Baldwin – Philippines
This multi-talented actor can never set foot back in the Philippines, even if he wanted to. Because of cheeky remarks he made about mail-order brides on Late Night With David Letterman, the Philippines Immigration Commissioner, Marcelino Libanan, released a statement: “By being in the bureau’s blacklist, Baldwin is forbidden from entering the country as he is deemed an undesirable alien.” Baldwin sincerely apologized for the remarks – despite the apology, the ban still stands.
5. Martin Scorsese – China
With films like The Wolf of Wall Street and The Departed, it’s hard to imagine that Martin Scorsese has a soft side. In his eclectic career, he has directed everything from documentaries, comedies, to historic biopics. One of these historical dramas was Kundun. The film depicted early Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a child and teenager. It also depicted the invasion of Tibet by China in a very unfavourable way. Needless to say, China did not appreciate how he treated the old Chinese government in the film. For this, he is never allowed to enter China.
4. Miley Cyrus – China
Looking like a spoiled brat and twerking are the least of Miley Cyrus’ problems. She was photographed at a party one night with friends making squinty-eyed faces. Given Cyrus’ enormous fanbase, the photograph inevitably went viral when she posted it on her website. When the photo made it to China, they didn’t see a few friends having an innocent laugh. Instead, they saw a direct insult to people of Asian descent, and the Chinese in particular. The Asian community was appalled and China reacted by banning her from the country.
3. Jay-Z – China
Jay-Z has 99 problems, and getting into China is one of them. In another case of the country taking serious offence to an American music star, it wasn’t a distasteful photograph or a powerful feature-length film that got Jay-X kicked out of the country. It was, simply, his lyrics. According to the Chinese Culture Ministry, “Some of Jay-Z’s songs contain too much vulgar language” so they cancelled his concert in Shanghai. Jay-Z, being the gentlemen that he is, responded fairly and democratically, stating that he hopes he can reschedule the concert to share his music with new fans.
2. Lindsay Lohan – India
This list would not be complete without including controversy powerhouse Lindsay Lohan. So far Lohan merely faces the possibility of being banned from entering India, but considering her history of bad luck, it’s likely that she eventually will be. The Indian government took considerable offence to Lohan’s false claim that she had rescued 40 underage workers in India. After some poking around, it was discovered that Lohan was travelling on a tourist visa while actually filming a BBC documentary. In fact, Lohan had no role in saving any child workers, because she arrived only after a raid took place. Her comments caused a social media backlash as people claimed she had trivialized child labour.
1. Brad Pitt – China
Yes, even the do-gooder Brad Pitt has problems getting into a few countries, one of which is China. They didn’t take very kindly to the film Seven Years in Tibet, which starred Pitt. The film told the story of a German who becomes good friends with His Holiness the Dalai Lama shortly before the Chinese invasion. Like Kundun, the film mercilessly showed the horrors, violence and injustice of the invasion. Not surprisingly, the Chinese community and government hated the film, and banned Pitt from ever entering their country again.