Oftentimes, celebrities use their fame to create change in the world for the better. The recent 2016 Academy Awards made headlines, not for what all the actors were wearing, but for the numerous acceptance speeches that addressed world issues. From Sam Smith speaking out about gay rights to Leonardo DiCaprio talking about global warming, it seems like everyone in Hollywood has their own agenda.
Yet, not all celebrities are using their fame to talk about changing the world. While there have been some celebrities that have had some public snafus with their words, each transgression has its own variance in damage. When Jessica Simpson famously asked the question, “Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish?” fans actually found it more endearing, and it helped to show her as a real person. However, not everyone has been so lucky. Instead, many have gone on to put their foot in their mouths, which ended up hurting their careers.
A great example of this is the documentary by the Dixie Chicks entitled, Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing. Since they underwent huge scrutiny for their anti-Bush comments, their concerts were plagued with controversy and there were various feuds with other country stars. The group ultimately disbanded, and there seemed to be a black cloud over them which followed until their last day. Proving that not everyone can use their celebrity to provoke social change, check out our list of 14 celebrities that have hurt their careers simply by talking.
14. 50 Cent – Bullied Autistic Kid
50 Cent is another celebrity that has had his fair share of public snafus when it comes to things he has said. In fact, Oprah Winfrey had a candid interview with 50 Cent in an episode of Next Chapter where she addressed the fact that he once said defamatory comments about her. While the two ended the interview seemingly making peace, it doesn’t seem like the rap artist has learned to keep his mouth shut. In a recent visit to a Cincinnati airport, 50 Cent started to video a custodial worker and mock him openly to his face while addressing the camera. He then posted this video via social media and continued to mock the employee.
However, the employee was later found out to be Andrew Farrell, a 19-year-old autistic man with a hearing impairment and severe social anxiety issues. 50 Cent has since removed the mocking video from his social media sites, but the public has already labeled him a “bully.” 50 Cent has offered an apology to Andrew, his family, and the public, and has also donated $100,000 to Autism Speaks but the incident definitely paints quite a different picture from the Grandma-loving rapper that once had a heart-to-heart with Oprah.
13. Paula Deen – Racist Southerner
Paula Deen was once a beloved Food Network star that was the go-to chef for traditional Southern-style cooking. However, a slew of controversial photos and statements has completely demolished her career. During a deposition in 2013, Paula Deen admitted to telling racist jokes and using the n-word several times. It was also revealed that she wanted black waiters to be dressed as “slaves” for a wedding event.
She made a public apology on the Today Show with Matt Lauer (which many believed was contrived), and continues to try and regain her status as a well-respected chef. In the meantime, she has pitched some ideas on a subscription-based television network to air her old Food Network shows as well as some book and documentary deals to delve deeper into this “ordeal” she has been through.
12. Jennifer Hudson – Debbie Downer
Jennifer Hudson first started making waves for her words when she allegedly gave some unwanted advice to Adele about losing weight. She has done quite well with her Weight Watchers endorsement and weight loss, but not everybody wants to hear her suggestions on how they could stand to lose a few pounds. In the meantime, Jennifer has set her sights on a new goal: Becoming an EGOT. With only a handful of celebrities earning this prestigious title of winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, Jennifer Hudson was well on her way when she starred in The Color Purple. However, when nominations for the Tony Awards came through, not only was she snubbed, but everyone else in the cast was praised for their performances.
Taking to Twitter, she tweeted, “@CrushedSounds my presence was used for my celebrity, not my talent. I’m not surprised.” She quickly deleted the tweet, but the damage was already done, and she came off looking bitter and definitely not a team player. She might find her pursuit of being an EGOT a bit more troublesome in the future, since nobody likes a “Debbie Downer.”
11. Christina Aguilera – Insulted Eminem
When Christina Aguilera first entered the music industry as an emerging pop star with “Genie In A Bottle,” she was not alone. During a time when NSYNC and Britney Spears were at the top of their game, she was just one part of a growing genre. However, another part of the music industry was the emergence of Eminem as a hugely popular rap artist. Since he was known for his ability to make fun of himself, it shouldn’t have been surprising that he would eventually start targeting other artists.
During a segment on MTV, Christina Aguilera was asked to host a music video countdown where she talked about her favorite songs. When she started talking about an Eminem song, she started weighing in on some “rumors” she had heard about the rap artist, even giving off a little laugh at the end. She probably wishes she didn’t say anything at all, since Eminem went on to repeatedly dish out some “rumors” he had heard about her on his new album, The Real Slim Shady. A famous line from one song on the album was, “Christina Aguilera better switch me chairs. So I can sit next to Carson Daly and Fred Durst. And hear ‘em argue over who she gave head to first. Little b**** put me on blast on MTV.” While her camp went into survival mode afterwards and adamantly denied the claims, the damage not only hurt her reputation but also made her fans look at her in a whole new light.
10. Miley Cyrus – The Asian Debacle
Miley Cyrus is a celebrity that doesn’t have to seek out attention in the press. From the infamous “foam finger” performance to her over-the-top looks on the red carpet, she has made a career out of being provocative. However, there was a time when she hadn’t yet shed her Hannah Montana persona, and was still navigating her way through the entertainment industry. During this time was when her biggest blunder took place in the form of a group photo that went viral.
When she posed with a group of friends making stereotypical Asian gestures and pulling at her eyes to force a slanted look, the Asian community expressed outrage at this former Disney star. Rather than acknowledging the hurt she’d caused the Asian community, Miley Cyrus released a statement saying, “It seems someone is trying to make something out of nothing to me.” She went on to say, “I feel like now that Britney is back on top of her game again, they need someone to pick on! Lucky me! Haha.” When the Asian-rights group, OCA, continued to reference the photo and the “apology” she released a new statement to try and finally put the matter to rest, but the damage was done, and she lost a huge portion of her fan base.
9. Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce – Insensitive IVF Comments
Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are the men behind the fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana, and came under fire for some comments made about children born from in vitro fertilization. In an interview with Panorama magazine, the designers referred to children born through IVF as “synthetic” and also said, “No chemical children: life has a natural course, there are things that shouldn’t be modified.” This sparked outrage from people all over the world and Elton John joined in the fight and pledged to boycott Dolce & Gabbana products.
Instead of the fashion giants coming out with an apology over their statements, they stood by their right to freedom of speech and called fans to boycott Elton John’s music. Elton John released his own statement on Instagram saying, “How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic’. And shame on you for wagging your judgmental little fingers at IVF – a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfill their dream of having children.” With over 35,000 tweets being issued with the #boycottdolcegabbana tag, it doesn’t seem like the fashion designers did themselves any favors by speaking out against IVF.
8. Michael Richards – Racism
Michael Richards has always been a comedian that followed his own set of rules. From the physical comedy skits on The Tonight Show to his infamous role as Kramer on Seinfeld, he was a comedian that was different from the typical stand-up performers we’re used to seeing on stage. Once Seinfeld came to an end, people wondered what would become of these favorite characters we let into our homes for so long. While other cast members seemed to move on with grace, Michael Richards had a more difficult time getting into a steady groove to revamp his career. Trying new stand-up material, he had a difficult moment with hecklers at one of his shows in 2006. The whole incident was caught on video by someone else in the audience, and uploaded to YouTube for all to see. Not only did he repeatedly use the n-word, saying, “F*** you, N*****!” but he also said other offensive comments like, “Shut up! 50 years ago we’d have you upside down with a f***ing fork up your ass.” Needless to say, his career took a major hit and venues didn’t exactly line up to have him perform his stand-up material after that.
7. Duane “Dog” Chapman – Racism
It isn’t uncommon for celebrity insiders to sell stories to the tabloids, but it usually involves a distant cousin or a so-called “friend.” In the case of Duane Chapman, star of A&E’s Dog The Bounty Hunter, it was his own son, Tucker. Tucker recorded his father during a phone conversation where he was addressing his son’s new black girlfriend, and uses the n-word six times. The tape was then sold to The National Enquirer, who posted a clip from the recording, and sparks began to fly. A&E suspended production of the show, and Duane went on an apology tour trying to undo all the damage caused by the recording.
6. Isaiah Washington – Insulted Co Star
In the height of popularity for ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, there was no shortage of tabloid headlines surrounding its cast. Tales of diva antics and egos running wild, made the on set drama even more shocking than when the cameras were rolling. During an altercation between Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey, Washington allegedly referred to their fellow cast member, T.R. Knight, as a “faggot.” The gay community, as well as many other people in the entertainment industry, called for Washington’s termination. The outrage wouldn’t have been as bad if he hadn’t used that one defamatory word, and he probably wouldn’t have lost his job either. Since then, Washington hasn’t been on the go-to list for Hollywood jobs and many still think of him as a homophobe.
5. Angus T. Jones – Insulted Show That Made Him Famous
For a child actor, a dream job would entail being on a hit show like the CBS sitcom, Two and a Half Men. While filming a movie can seem glamorous to a kid, it doesn’t always pay like you might expect. Tatum O’Neal became the youngest Oscar winner when she won Best Supporting Actress at just 10 years old but since she was only paid scale, it wasn’t a paycheck that would last her an entire lifetime. On the other hand, Angus T. Jones became the highest paid child star on television in 2010, signing a contract for $7.8 million for two seasons of work. However, his enthusiasm for the role disappeared by 2012, and he made numerous statements about how he felt like a “paid hypocrite.” After he released a video about his disdain for the character and the show, CBS didn’t write him into any episodes in 2013 and he officially departed the show in 2014.
4. Patrick Dempsey – All About The Money
When Patrick Dempsey first made his appearance on Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Derek Shepherd, female fans started coining him “Dr. McDreamy,” and a heartthrob was born. While the show added another hot doctor character, who they called “McSteamy,” fans never strayed from their fascination with Patrick Dempsey. As the series pushed forward, even amid rumors of cast drama, people started to wonder whether or not the show would be able to maintain a riveting storyline.
Other popular television series usually fizzled out by season 6, but Grey’s Anatomy seemed to continue to go strong. Yet, when reports came out about Patrick Dempsey allegedly saying that he was only doing Grey’s Anatomy for a steady paycheck, it seemed like there was a lack of respect for show creator, Shonda Rhimes. Shonda gave a now infamous quote to The Hollywood Reporter where she stated, “I don’t put up with bullsh** or nasty people. I don’t have time for it,” and unceremoniously Dempsey’s character was unexpectedly killed off .
3. Kanye West – Kanye Being Kanye
Kanye West has become known for his outspoken ways in recent years, whether it’s the many feuds on Twitter or the outrageous statements made to the press (like when he said he was going to run for President of the United States). However, it was the incident at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards that really started it all. Interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech when it was announced she won Best Female Video, Kanye West jumped on the stage and snatched away her microphone to say, “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you. I’m gonna let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!” If there is ever a time to keep your mouth shut, it is during someone else’s acceptance speech on stage.
2. Hulk Hogan – Racist Rant
When a secret sex tape is released to the tabloids, it’s not usually the dialogue that is the most interesting part. However, when Hulk Hogan was filmed having sex with his friend’s wife, his words were the most interesting part of the tape. Instead of pillow talk and sweet nothings being whispered into her ear, Hogan went on a little racist rant about the possibility of his daughter dating a black guy. Using the n-word numerous times, he is even heard on the tape saying, “I mean, I am a racist, to a point, f***ing n******.” He later goes on to say, “I mean, I’d rather if she was going to f*** some n*****, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall n***** worth a hundred million dollars.”
While this isn’t the first time Hulk Hogan has been linked to damning audio tapes where he uses the n-word, this is the first time that it most certainly has hurt his career. Once the court transcripts from the sex tape were released to the public, Wendy Williams went on her talk show to talk about what it meant for her to know that Hulk Hogan had used this racist talk. When asked if she would like to have him back on her show to explain his behavior, she said, “No!”
1. Megan Fox – Insulted Director, Got Fired
When you have a face and body like Megan Fox has, it seems like Hollywood should be opening all its doors to give out the best roles. As the quintessential eye-candy onscreen, she was on the fast track to being Hollywood’s favorite “It” girl when she made the mistake of saying something that many construed as anti-Semitic.
While slated to star in the second Transformers movie, she gave an interview to British magazine, Wonderland, addressing what Michael Bay was like to work with. She said, “He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he’s a nightmare to work for but when you get him away from set, and he’s not in director mode, I kind of really enjoy his personality because he’s so awkward, so hopelessly awkward. He has no social skills at all.” Once Steven Spielberg caught wind of her comments, he demanded she be fired, and she was promptly replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.