While the public often views fame as something hugely positive, the same cannot be said for all celebrities. The idea of being instantly recognizable by millions and having the opportunity to travel the globe can seem like something that anyone would strive towards. Yet, fame also brings a number of negative attributes that have played themselves out over the years.
One of the biggest negatives to fame involves the constant curiosity by the public about every minor detail of a celebrity’s life. While the paparazzi have always been a problem in the past, the struggle to get the hottest picture has emboldened the media in unprecedented ways. From Princess Diana’s fatal car crash to citizen journalists using their camera phones to document celebrities in their daily lives, fame doesn’t always come with the best advantages to life.
While there are a number of celebrities that have lashed out because of the lack of privacy and immense criticism, there are still those that strive to stay in the limelight. From fake relationships to try and reach a bigger audience to publicity stunts to make the latest headlines, there isn’t much someone won’t do to build their fame. While people wouldn’t generally choose to divulge the details surrounding marital problems or heartbreak, there are some celebrities that choose to exploit these events to try and further their careers. Rather than choosing to keep these details private, some celebrities have chosen to dish out all the dirt and even prolong the attention. Check out our list of 15 celebrities that milked their breakups to get ahead and garner increased publicity, and see how some of the hottest names in Hollywood have exploited themselves for fame.
Madonna has always had an issue with trying to stay relevant in today’s ever-changing music industry. She has seemingly tried everything to remain current, whether it was kissing Britney Spears on stage at the VMAs or dressing half-naked on the red carpet. It has seemed like she would do anything and everything to try and remain part of popular culture, and that includes milking her breakup with her ex-husband, Guy Ritchie. While her concerts continue to draw in thousands of fans with each new show, many of her fans don’t exactly want to hear any of her new music. Madonna fans want to hear favorites like “Papa Don’t Preach” and “Like A Virgin.” Since it can be difficult to get media coverage for a concert that’s just playing hits from the ‘80s, Madonna decided to bring up her breakup and custody battle on stage. In March 2016, Madonna reportedly performed at an Australian concert, and started calling out her ex-husband. She called him “a son of a b****” when speaking about the drama with their son, Rocco, but this wasn’t the first time she had used her personal heartbreak to promote her concerts. In January 2016, she called Ritchie the C-word on stage in Nashville during a concert, as well.
14. Kris Jenner
Although Keeping Up with the Kardashians started off as a show about the three eldest sisters, viewers quickly became enthralled with Kris Jenner, the matriarch and ultimate “Momager.” She was criticized for her pushy and immoral parenting with the three eldest girls, lack thereof parenting with the two youngest girls, and the sheer indifference towards her husband. Bruce Jenner was often thought of as the unsung hero of the show, especially since he seemed to be the only one that took an active part in parenting the two youngest children. While it wasn’t exactly surprising to hear about the divorce between Kris and Bruce, his decision to come out as a transgender person was definitely shock-worthy. While Bruce quickly moved on to become Caitlyn and earn a reality show of her own, it was Kris that used her newfound focus in the limelight to promote herself. Stepping out at the clubs and dating Corey Gamble, a man young enough to be dating one of her daughters, she has used the attention from her split with Bruce to promote herself as single and ready to mingle.
13. Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian has always been considered a serial dater, since she has been romantically linked to so many men in Hollywood. From Nick Cannon to Ray J to Reggie Bush, she has been a staple on the red carpet as arm candy prior to becoming Kanye West’s wife. While Keeping Up with the Kardashians has always been known for its blatant exploitation, one of the biggest profiteering moments happened during the 72-day marriage between Kim and Kris Humphries. Their whirlwind romance made people wonder how authentic their love was, and commercializing their wedding didn’t seem to help audiences believe in their love story. The breakup only helped to fuel intrigue over the Kardashian clan, and helped to add even more viewers to the reality show. Guests of the ultra lavish wedding began requesting their gifts back, but the added viewership paid for itself ten times over. The reality show featured numerous scenes involving heartbroken Kim, which only opened the door to who she would date next. The emergence of Kanye West on the show was just what the show needed to complete her story, which of course led to another wedding special.
12. Taylor Armstrong
When Taylor Armstrong was introduced as a cast member on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, she seemed to be lacking in a storyline besides the same old extravagant lifestyle. The episodes she featured in were mostly about the child birthday parties she threw for thousands of dollars or the personal stylist she would bring to her home. While it wasn’t unheard of for Bravo to swap out housewives that weren’t continuing to bring something to the table in regards to thrilling storylines, Armstrong brought up the marital problems between her and her husband Russell for the next season on the show. When that seemed to have run its course, it looked like the world would finally be rid of Taylor Armstrong. Yet, Russell’s suicide proved that there was still a story to be told. Taylor milked every last ounce out of her husband’s suicide, even divulging the most personal details of his passing for all the world to see. Although it didn’t help with further castings on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the added attention did help land her a few acting roles and a stint on Couples Therapy.
When Chris Brown was still thought of as the ultra-talented dancer akin to Michael Jackson, the world seemed thrilled to see that he and Rihanna had officially become a couple. Yet, the physical altercation in 2009 definitely changed public perception. Brown was instantly labeled a woman beater, and the world felt instantly protective over the Barbados singer. While she had a number of hits under her belt before their monumental breakup, the attention and personal growth after their altercation created a completely new persona for the “Umbrella” singer. Her music became much more edgy, as well as her videos and social media posts. She even tried to rekindle her relationship with Chris Brown, since the buzz surrounding their union was incredibly helpful to her career. Conversely, Brown has tried to get the public to completely forget about his Rihanna past, and has even had a few public meltdowns when the relationship was brought up. In the meantime, Rihanna came off looking strong, forgiving, and empowered.
10. Mariah Carey And Eminem
It’s difficult to say if there is a winner in the Mariah Carey and Eminem feud, since the nature of their relationship has never been revealed. In 2002, Eminem was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and eluded to a sexual relationship with Carey. Yet, Carey has never admitted anything of the sort. Yet, the publicity this “relationship” revelation caused was a great opportunity for Carey to promote her upcoming album, which coincidentally featured a song about Eminem, “Clown.” During the tour, she had a set that parodied The Eminem Show, and her latter song, “Obsessed,” featured Mariah dressed to impersonate Eminem. “Obsessed” became a huge hit, and helped bring fans over to her side of the dispute. Eminem came out with a variety of different lyrics to “prove” that he was telling the truth, including his single “Superman.” Yet, many of his claims have been refuted (by those close to Mariah), and even the audio recording he supposedly has of Mariah has been called out by being made by an imposter. Regardless of who is telling the truth, they both have used this “breakup” to promote their new music.
9. Jennifer Aniston
When Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt were happily married, they seemed like they had the entertainment industry cornered due to her TV star status on Friends and his role as a film heartthrob. However, her time on Friends ended in 2004 and her marriage also came to an end in 2005. While the world was busy vilifying the temptress, Angelina Jolie, Aniston was getting all the free publicity she could muster to get her as many roles on the big screen as possible. She quickly became a favorite actress for filmmakers looking to cast a super likable best friend type on the silver screen, and this probably wouldn’t have been possible without all that amazing positive advertisements given by the accusatory media. The world looked at Aniston with puppy dog eyes, and just wanted her to get her fairy tale ending (even if it was just in a movie). If it weren’t for all the press from the divorce, she may not have become as successful in the film business, which seems entirely possible since none of her fellow Friends costars have been able to achieve equal film success.
8. Taylor Kinney
When Taylor Kinney became romantically linked to Lady Gaga, many fans had to actually look up who he was in the first place. While he’s thought of as an ultra hot actor from the hit series, Chicago Fire, he isn’t the global superstar that is Lady Gaga. The two experienced a whirlwind romance that culminated in a heart-shaped engagement ring. Yet, with Gaga touring the world, the two have had to spend much of their time apart, and have since called a halt on their relationship. Gaga has remained pretty tight-lipped about the ordeal, and has been photographed more low key. On the other hand, Kinney has seemed more than happy to be front and center during this tumultuous time. People magazine issued a feature on how Kinney was nursing his heartbreak by throwing himself into work in July 2016, and simultaneously promoted the filming of the latest season of Chicago Fire. A picture of the cast was also featured in the article, with Kinney in the background with an ear-to-ear smile. He may not be happy about the split, but he sure seems happy about all that free publicity for the show.
7. Amber Rose
When Amber Rose was first introduced to the public, she was just the mysterious bald-headed woman on the arm of Kanye West. With her barely-there ensembles, people weren’t surprised to learn that she was a former stripper and party girl before Kanye brought her on the red carpet. Once the two split, many presumed she would just dust herself and get right back on the… pole. Yet, it didn’t seem like she was in a hurry to get out of the limelight. Instead, she moved on to her next celebrity squeeze, Wiz Khalifa. Knowing that Kanye’s star status (and big mouth) brings on major publicity, Rose has continued to bring him up at any chance she gets. When Kanye was first linked to Kim Kardashian, Rose went on a few interviews to speak on the alleged affair the two were having while Kim was still with Reggie Bush, and who could forget the infamous finger tweet. With all this drama keeping her name in the headlines, it’s no wonder she was asked to host her own show and compete on Dancing with the Stars.
6. Gwen Stefani
When Gwen Stefani first became a judge on The Voice, people wondered what she would bring to the table. While she was definitely a force to be reckoned with back in the ‘90s, she wasn’t exactly coming out with any new music. In fact, when she performed on The Voice stage, she was forced to just sing one of her old hits. While the other judges were promoting their newest hits, Stefani seemed like a fraud in teaching new singing hopefuls how to break it big in this current music industry. Yet, her divorce from Gavin Rossdale did more than make her newly single; it helped to boost her music career. Releasing the song, “Use To Love You,” Stefani took advantage of all the free press she was getting surrounding her messy divorce proceedings, and performed tearful renditions of the song in a variety of different venues (including The Voice stage). While she was once thought of as a washed up ‘90’s singer, she now has a burgeoning career that was helped along by her heartbreak.
5. Robin Thicke
Although Robin Thicke was first signed to Interscope Records at just 16 years old, his career as a recording artist has been filled with a multitude of ups and downs. While other artists would churn out one hit album after the next, not everyone can boast the same successes as Beyonce and Rihanna. Thicke had a few breakout singles that seemed like they would catapult him into rockstar status, but they seemed to come few and far between. His hit single, “When I Get You Alone” was released in 2002, and the next big hit didn’t come until 2006 with the song, “Lost Without You.” Throughout this entire time, Thicke was involved with his high school sweetheart, Paula Patton, and the two were finally married in 2005. Patton has become an accomplished actress, starring alongside such names as Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise. When Thicke again achieved success through his 2013 single, “Blurred Lines,” Patton was still by his side. Yet, that didn’t last long when photos were released involving Thicke with another woman. In an effort to win her back (and promote his newest album, Paula), Thicke performed onstage numerous times with songs dedicated to his now ex-wife.
4. Justin Timberlake
When Justin Timberlake was at the height of his boy band fame, he looked nothing like the “Suit & Tie” superstar he is today. From the ramen noodle hairstyle to the full denim ensembles, it was hard to see him as a heartthrob by today’s standards. When he combined his star power with Britney Spears, he began to look a little more appealing, but partly only because he was romantically linked to the hottest female pop star in the world. The decision to embark on a solo career can be a little tricky, since not all band members have the stuff it takes to make it on their own. Just before the release of his first solo album, Timberlake and Spears announced their split. Timberlake went out of his way to make sure he could throw Spears under the bus as often as he possibly could, including a Barbara Walters interview where he used the opportunity to give a sneak peek of his upcoming solo album. He later debuted the video for his second single, “Cry Me A River,” where he cast a Britney lookalike and hinted to media that the song was about his breakup with the pop star.
3. Brandi Glanville
Prior to her divorce from Eddie Cibrian, the world hadn’t even heard the name Brandi Glanville. She was occasionally seen on the arm of Cibrian on the red carpet, but she definitely wasn’t a star in her own right. Once Cibrian and Glanville divorced and he was remarried to LeAnn Rimes, Glanville didn’t hesitate to milk her status as the jilted wife. It earned her a spot on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and she made sure to bring up her past marital drama at every turn. The majority of her storyline on the show involved her criticism of anyone with cheating in their background, and she always referenced her situation with Cibrian and Rimes. There was even a waitress employee of Lisa Vanderpump that once had a relationship with Cibrian during his marriage to Glanville, and much of the storyline on the show involved confrontations with her. The affair seemed to thrust Glanville into the spotlight, earning her everything from reality TV star status to becoming a published author.
2. Kate Gosselin
When Kate Gosselin was first introduced to audiences, she was seen as the overbearing wife and mother from Jon & Kate Plus 8. She was highly criticized for the lack of affection she showed her husband, and the strict and controlling method of parenting her children. What was once a lighthearted television show about the stresses involved in raising eight kids, quickly became a show about how surprising it was that someone even married Kate in the first place. When photos came out with Jon frequenting nightclubs with a number of different women, the world seemed to change their tune about Kate. She was seen as the poor victim wife, and her philandering husband was promptly thrown under the bus. Not only was she granted her very own reality show, Kate Plus 8, but she went on a variety of daytime talk shows to promote herself. She became a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, and even became a published author. It seems like Jon cheating on her was the best thing that could have happened, since it helped to turn around her negative public persona.
1. Taylor Swift
No one has profited from their breakups the way that Taylor Swift has, since she infuses her songs with real-life drama from her dating past. When Taylor Swift started off as a singer/songwriter, she was seen as the innocent young country star with baby-like blonde curls. Performing on stage with her pink guitar, she was embraced by a certain audience for sweet love songs like “Fifteen” and “Forever and Always.” Yet, her dating life quickly became center stage, and she didn’t hesitate to write about it in her songs. Hopping from one relationship to the next, some of her biggest hits have been about her famous exes. From John Mayer to Harry Styles, Swift has exploited each breakup to sell even more records. Since the country genre isn’t the best audience to promote bed-hopping and playing the field, Swift promptly moved to the pop genre and increased the intensity of her music. With hits like, “Shake It Off” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” it seems like she makes her best music while mending a broken heart.