We live in strange, tense times: Everybody has access to information on how to do just about anything and cheap or free apps and tech giving them the power to attempt it all. With social media added to the mix, now experts and professional creatives clash with socially savvy “content” creators and disgruntled fame/fortune seekers in cyberspace. Never have we had such unfettered access to so many personalities and opinions and so much freedom to express our personal opinion about each and every one of them.
Any fan, if they have the nerve, can go toe-to-toe with an insecure celebrity. Deadbeat trolls and educated experts, both with little experience talking in sound bites, can take on glib entertainers, whose reasoning, though not as heavily supported, is catchier for a mob of followers to repeat. In this new media game, most critics are legitimately written off as “haters”, but sometimes it is a well-meaning fan that trolls an entertainer, for example, in the hopes this person will develop a reasonable level of self-confidence so that we can continue to appreciate their work in good conscience.
12. Ben Affleck
He may have won an Academy Award for his direction of the true-spy movie Argo, but ironically could not be taken seriously in a comic book movie as half of the title duo Batman v. Superman. Add the fact that Ben Affleck is the epitome of Hollywood insecurity with zero sense of humor or patience for even the most good-natured ribbing, like that he took at the hands of Seth McFarlane who hosted this, his 2nd winning Oscar night, and you have the signs of a man who thinks he has advanced his craft, not just his net worth.
11. Noel Gallagher
Noel is most likely the one of two Gallagher brothers who proclaimed their band, Oasis, were the new Beatles, when they crashed the alternative Brit rock scene in the early 90s to great critical and popular acclaim. As primary songwriter and lead guitarist for this formerly internationally renowned band of musicians, a band whose third full-length studio album still holds the records for units sold in the UK, it is not hard to imagine that Noel Gallagher began to believe his own hype. Today, the living members of the Beatles still have more clout as musicians than their most successful fans the Gallagher Bros.
10. James Franco
It is impossible to tell whether James Franco is almost always half smiling because he is in on some inside joke that none of us are smart enough to get or he is just stoned. Even after playing a villain in the Spider-Man movies and chopping his own arm off in 127 Hours, Franco cannot escape his stoner comedy roots, having started off in Judd Apatow’s stable of funny people. And even if he is a PhD student at Yale, it was hard to believe the man when he claimed his own roast on Comedy Central was a performance piece.
9. Billy Corgan
That the frontman of 90s alterna-rock radio mainstay Smashing Pumpkins has a huge ego is old news, even if many of the specifics of how Billy Corgan drove his bandmates away are largely unknown. Corgan is one of few 90s-era musicians who still composes and performs despite having lost most clout, credibility, or relevance in the world of alternative rock radio–if his high art approach to music had not alienated half his original lineup, the Smashing Pumpkins‘ unique brand of jazz and bipolar depression-infused grunge rock would be more sorely missed.
8. Lars Ulrich
The drummer of Metallica is another example of a band member who disrespected at least two of his mates (Dave Mustaine who was fired from Metallica early on and formed the always slightly less successful thrash metal outfit Megadeth and long time bassist Jason Newsted) and who thinks he is God’s gift to (heavy metal) music (and to drumming and drummers everywhere). Formerly a tennis player, Danish-born Ulrich was silver-spoon fed compared to front man James Hetfield and developing a well-publicized cocaine habit at the height of his band’s success probably did not shrink his ego any from there.
7. Quentin Tarantino
While Tarantino got little flak for changing the Jewish WWII narrative to include the fantasy murder of Adolf Hitler in Inglourious Basterds, he was showered with criticism in the wake of Django Unchained for twisting the Black American story into a naively idealistic revenge flick ala Sergio Leone. Rather than admitting to insensitivity or using the tried-and-true, ‘my movies are meant to entertain, not educate’ defense, Quentin doubled down on his claim that Django was meant to open dialogue about racism; yet the director also admits to never seeing Selma, a film clearly meant to broach this subject.
Moby is a notorious d*ck. Born Richard Melville Hall in Harlem, NYC, the alleged (by himself on a 2005 episode of MTV’s Cribs) guitar virtuoso and internationally chart topping DJ/electronic musician is just as hairless as the whale in his namesake, Herman Melville’s classic book Moby Dick. Not only has this title as genius musician been left unverified, the man has such a rosy hued view of his own life that, in the rockumentary American Hardcore, he claims to have fronted hardcore SF punk band Flipper for two shows–an anecdote the band denied in a subsequent interview for the same film.
5. Axl Rose
The former singer of hair metal megastars Guns & Roses will be picking up vocalist duties for AC/DC’s singer, who has had to leave their current tour and the band he has performed with for the past 36 years. There was a time when Axl was king of the operatic, oversexed, glam metal thing; nobody in metal could howl like him, nobody in rock could sing a ballad like him, and nobody in Hollywood could out-party him. His confidence in these skills has remained, even if people like Roger Daltrey scoff at the idea of Axl Rose fronting AC/DC.
4. Shia LaBeouf
Written phonetically so readers can pronounce his name, Shy-a Le-Buff is known among Hollywood producers, directors, and fellow actors as volatile and a difficult personality to work with. If this were not enough to show he has an inaccurately inflated perception of himself and his acting chops, he is now a known and unabashed plagiarist; even lifting other writers’ words to use in apologies for plagiarizing. Maybe the Transformers star has figured out that if he gets ‘meta’ enough with it, people might start to believe his story that his plagiarism is more of a performance piece than creative theft.
Beyoncé Knowles clearly thinks her first name should be added to the English language as a term of endearment or a title after she thanked Whoopi Goldberg on The View for simply calling her by her own name. If this were just a list of the biggest egos Knowles might top it, but her sense of accomplishment and level of influence are not fully delusional and inflated. Being as big as Beyoncé can be risky if one forgets that popular and right are not always the same; everything you are looks and feels like gold but might just be pyrite.
2. Miley Cyrus
No teen girl should envy Miley Cyrus; she gets to work through angst, awkwardness, and identity crisis onstage and Instagram for all to see. We the lucky voyeurs and fans get to see this former Disney-friendly country star flaunt her jailbait style; watching as she convinces herself like every adolescent female before her that she is pushing the envelope by owning her sexuality, working her act and livelihood around it.
Runner up: Madonna is Miley’s future if she is not careful; the latter should take the former’s fading relevance and desperate attempts to stay influential as a cautionary tale.
1. Kanye West
If you did not immediately think of Kanye West when you read the title of this list, then you have somehow been successfully ignoring his constant attempts at making the blind, ignorant world recognize and appreciate his genius as a hip-hop musician and his glory as the son of Yod, Yeezus. Though he is a churchgoer, known philanthropist, now a family man, and a multi-platinum recording artist, his contribution to the art world is not so groundbreaking and his charity work not enough to warrant feeling like a messiah, let alone calling conspiracy when he is “robbed” of Grammy gold.