Is it just us or was this year an especially unglamorous one in which to be famous? We can’t remember the last time, if ever, we adjusted to this frequency of celebrity shame. Racism, sexism, even pedophilia. What happened to the good old TMZ days when socialite X may or may not be on speaking terms with Y anymore? The rich and famous are supposed to be adult fairy tale characters, not villains.
Whether they did the awful things they're accused of or not, the very possibility transgresses our illusions about the celebrity world. In the past, common missteps like a stint in rehab or a cheating scandal, could reinforce our love for a favourite celeb in the long run. But much of this year’s news was atypical and utterly sour, and indeed, some celebrity embarrassments can hardly even be trivialised by the term 'scandal', so horrific are they.
These stories constituted a shift in each celebrity's public profile to varying degrees. From minor erosion to seismic career catastrophe, these are the 12 craziest celebrity stories of the year.
12 Ghomeshi gets sacked
Who saw this coming? CBC Radio One is Canada's trusted, high-quality national broadcaster. Jian Ghomeshi was their poster boy.
He was a charming, perceptive and mild-natured host who asked some good questions on the most popular radio show, Q. But in late October, it all fell apart. Since he was fired from CBC, surrounded by troubling rumours of sexual violence, 11 women and 1 man have painted a portrait of Jian Ghomeshi as a serial sexual abuser partial to unwanted advances in the workplace and non consensual violence in the bedroom.
Out of a job and on $100,000 bail, he will return to court January 8th pleading not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one of overcoming resistance by choking.
11 Celebrity Photo Leaks
In late August over 500 private celebrity — mostly female and mostly nude — photos appeared on popular imageboard and anus of the Internet, 4chan.
Among the A-list victims: Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Kirsten Dunst. The tastelessly named 'Fappening' unearthed serious concern for Apple’s cloud privacy, and as Jennifer Lawrence pointed out, deeply buried philosophical questions: “Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense. You should cower with shame.”
That rings particularly true for one victim of the cyber attack, gold medal gymnast McKayla Maroney, whose stolen photos depict her underage.
10 Bloom vs. Bieber
On a lighter note, the fair-skinned, soft-spoken elf in Lord of the Rings exchanged patent rudeness with pop music's biggest brat, and — gasp — nearly engaged him in fisticuffs. When the Biebs posse walked by the Bloom table at an Ibiza restaurant in July, Bieber told Bloom, “she was good”.
This prompted Bloom to throw and miss a fist at the Bieb’s face (Leonardo DiCaprio, a bystander at the time, reportedly “flipped out” and started cheering). Rumour has it the "she" was referring to Bloom’s ex-wife and the mother of his child, Miranda Kerr, whom Biebs allegedly hung out and flirted with in 2012. Bloom reportedly cozied up to Bieb's ex Selena Gomez in 2013. Stay tuned. Or don't.
9 LaBeouf's Arrest
“When you go to Rome you eat spaghetti. When you go to Ireland you drink whiskey.” LaBeouf wisdom. Last June, fresh from a drunken flight from Ireland to New York, the actor had himself a sloshfest at Cabaret of all places. Inspired by too many double whiskeys he lit a cigarette during a performance featuring “the sexiest man [he'd] ever seen”, actor Alan Cumming.
He grabbed Cumming’s butt and allegedly howled obscenities throughout the performance — six police officers received him outside. Pugnacity followed LaBeouf to the police station, where he “spat on a cop’s shoe” and spent 25 hours confined in a private cell.
8 LaBeouf's (Alleged) Rape
Okay, so it’s been a long and confusing year in LaBeouf land. It seems the actor hasn’t yet exhausted whatever existential crisis he’s tapped into.
His projects this year included a “metamarathon”, 144 laps around Amsterdam’s Stedelijk museum dressed in Day-Glo spandex. Then there was an art performance dubbed #IAMSORRY, for which he sat in silence wearing a paper bag on his head at a Los Angeles gallery.
But the latest in LaBeouf news takes a grimmer, less amusing note. Two weeks ago, the actor alleged a woman whipped his legs for 10 minutes, stripped his clothing and raped him during the art performance in L.A. last February. The world was unsure how to react to the news, but everyone agrees it's an incredibly disturbing revelation.
7 Donald Sterling's Racism
The American businessman secured his place in bigot history after TMZ released a recording of him telling girlfriend-on-the-side V. Stiviano that he categorically dislikes black people, to paraphrase.
The NBA commissioner swiftly banned Sterling from the league for life, fined him $2.5 million and forced him to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. Sterling vaguely denied his racism via claims of having made a “terrible mistake”, sifting lawsuits, settlements and appeals, and somewhere along the way, Steve Ballmer quietly scooped up the Clippers for $2 billion.
6 Hank Baskett's Affair
In October, a recording of football star Hank Baskett speaking to transsexual model Ava London went viral. Baskett audibly confides in London to conceal a rumoured affair between them — he’s since publically admitted to “hooking up”. Sources around London however have called Baskett a manipulative, lying cheater who offered the former thousands in cover-up cash. Nevertheless, wife Kendra Wilkinson has publically decided to stay with him. Recent reports suggest their relationship is struggling.
5 Dylan Farrow’s Letter
Woody Allen’s adopted daughter first accused him of molesting her in the wake of his bitter divorce in 1979. At the time, an investigation concluded negative and the judge ruled against the charges. The case has been at best an afterthought until this year.
In February, Dylan Farrow reemerged with accusations in an emotional “open letter” published by New York Times Reporter Nicholas Kristof. Farrow describes Allen’s abuse in the attic of their Connecticut summer home while she played with a train set, and prompted Woody Allen to publish a lengthy, firm and “final” denial within days. The director maintains Dylan Farrow has been an instrument for her mother’s revenge, a defense echoed by her older brother Moses Farrow.
4 Solange vs. Jay-Z
In May, TMZ published security video footage of Solange Knowles attacking her brother-in-law in a hotel elevator.
Cue endless trouble-in-paradise speculation by gossip reporters: Did Jay-Z cheat on Beyonce?! Does Solange have mental health and/or substance abuse issues?! The matter closed with a short public statement to the tune of, “family, huh?” as the Knowles-Carter camp assured fans that the issue has been settled.
3 The Palin Brawl
But while we’re on the topic, let’s thank the gods of irony for the Palins’ greatest reality TV moment having occurred in actual reality. An Alaskan house-party brawl last September involved a bloody, shirtless and sauced Track Palin. It also included bountiful sl*t-calling, punches to the face, and at least four people jumping father Todd Palin in a dog-pile.
Four Palins in all, Sarah included, were not only involved, but were accused of causing the scuffle by the house party hosts. Apropos of Bristol Palin repeatedly punching the house-owner in the face, the former vice-presidential candidate released a statement commending her daughter as a role model for strong women. Slow clap.
2 The 7th Heaven Pastor's Pedophilia
But sometimes irony isn’t funny at all. In October, an audio recording surfaced. It featured Stephen Collins, wholesome pastor-dad in the popular TV drama 7th Heaven, admitting to molesting a 10 year-old girl in 1972.
An NYPD investigation is currently underway for three separate allegations of sexual predation by the 67 year-old, who oddly portrayed a so-called “pedophile priest” in a short film earlier this year. Pending charges, Collins has been fired from the cast of Ted 2. Wife Faye Grant, who recorded the incriminating confession during a therapy session, divorced him in 2012.
1 Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby has occupied a difficult place in our minds for a while now. Despite claims dating at least to 2000 which were quietly settled out of court,his iconic entertainer status remained impervious until this year.
As of December, a staggering 26 women have publicly accused Cosby of rape and/or sexual assault. Most of them allege drugging. Conversely, the man has a documented history as the target of blackmail, and a former lover once spent 26 months in jail for trying to extort him for $40 million.
As the accusers multiply by the week, however, the benefit of the doubt simply grows smaller. Despite cancelled shows, his resignation from Temple University’s board of trustees and a revoking of his honorary Chief Petty Officer award by the US Navy, Cosby has declined comment.