This has been an extremely unpredictable year and that includes the behaviour of some of our favourite celebrities. Isn't it wild to think that the real lives of celebrities used to be reserved for behind closed doors before social media invited us in to watch their every move? From the world of the biggest exotic wild animal collectors to an entanglement between August Alsina and Jada Pinkett Smith, 2020 has been full of unforeseeable events.
Take a look at the celebrities who earned the title of the most controversial stars of 2020 - some for reasons worse than others.
Doesn’t it feel like Tiger King was released years ago? Well, it was released during the beginning of quarantine, a.k.a March, and it was all anybody could talk about. Netflix’s true-crime docuseries exposed some of the biggest exotic wild animal collectors in the United States. The seven-part series followed the life of zoo owner Joe Exotic and the wild events that led to him allegedly hiring a hitman in a failed attempt to take out his archenemy, Carole Baskin. All Joe wanted was fame, and boy did he get that! From his songs, including “I Saw a Tiger” to creating his own reality TV show, Joe seemed to be an entertaining character.
It’s important to remember that Joe actually did commit crimes that landed him in prison, serving a 22-year sentence after being convicted for hiring a hitman. The former tiger breeder is in prison for two counts of murder-for-hire, nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act, and eight counts of violating the Lacey Act, a United States law that bans trafficking illegal wildlife, by falsifying wildlife records.
Joe has been begging for a pardon from Donald Trump, and he is allegedly “very, very close” to that. In early December, ABC News reported that Trump’s team is vetting several pardon requests – including Joe Exotic’s. “We are waiting on the pen to hit the paper, we think we are very, very close,” Eric Love, an attorney for Exotic, told the outlet about the potential presidential pardon. What will Joe do if he’s released? That’s another story for Netflix to tell.
Hey all you cool cats and kittens, while we’re on the topic of Tiger King, it’s fair to say that Carole Baskin is also one of 2020's most controversial stars. The Netflix series exposed the exotic animal collectors, but it also focused on theories that accused her of a crime involving the disappearance of her ex-husband, Jack (Don) Lewis. Members of the big cat community claimed that Baskin murdered Lewis and fed him to her tigers. He was last seen alive on Aug. 18, 1997, before disappearing. Two months before his disappearance, he filed for an order of protection against his wife and alleged that she’d threatened to kill him. Once Lewis was declared dead in 2002, Baskins inherited millions of dollars and the animal sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue.
Joe Exotic claimed that Baskin killed Lewis and used the meat grinder to feed him to the wild cats, but she denies the claims and has never been charged. Tampa authorities received numerous tips concerning the Don Lewis cold case after the series was released on Netflix. While Joe is still in jail, Baskin took her newfound fame and headed to compete in Dancing With the Stars. Lewis’ three daughters, his former assistant and family attorney made sure to purposefully buy a commercial slot during Baskin’s DWTS debut, asking viewers with any information on the disappearance to reach out to a tip line.
Before the summer of 2020, many of us were rooting for our beloved Brampton singer Tory Lanez who sampled all of our favourite tracks for his Chixtape mixtapes and entertained the world with quarantine radio. This year was looking extremely bright for him after he fulfilled his contractual obligations with Interscope Records and became an independent artist, but his career was halted when shocking news took over the headlines in July. Tory was arrested on a concealed weapon charge after what looked to be an eventful night, partying at Kylie Jenner’s home with Megan Thee Stallion and then going to a house party where an altercation turned violent. That was how the story went down at first until Meg alleged that he actually shot her in both feet.
In an Instagram Live video posted in late August, the “WAP” rapper explained why she had remained silent on the issue. “Yes this n—a Tory shot me,” Megan says in the video. “You shot me, and you got your publicist and your people going to these blogs lying and shit. Stop lying. Why lie?” In October, Tory was charged with one count of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and one count of carrying an unregistered firearm in a vehicle. After going incognito for months, he broke his silence in an Instagram Live video, saying, “It’s falsified information. It’s false information, and it’s not accurate information.”
Tory pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges related to the incident in November. During this very unclear time, both rappers have used the details of the situation in their new music. The “Broke In a Minute” rapper could be looking at a sentence of over 22 years in prison if he’s found guilty on both counts.
Johnny Depp was put on trial in front of the world this year. Just when we thought we’d seen the last of the drama between former spouses Depp and Amber Heard, it got worse. Depp’s libel trial against the British tabloid The Sun played out for everyone to see. In an April 2018 article from the British tabloid, the actor was referred to as a ‘wife beater’ concerning his marriage to Heard. Depp sued the magazine’s editor and News Group Newspapers, which owns The Sun.
The case went to trial in July and included testimonies from Depp and Heard. During the trial, Depp denied that he had been abusive towards Heard during their marriage. His ex-partners Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis issued statements during the trial, saying that the actor has never been violent towards them during their relationships.
Depp lost his case against the tabloid in November when Judge Andrew Nicol ruled in favour of The Sun, saying that their claims that the actor did in fact abuse his wife were “substantially true.” After losing the case, Depp claimed that the court decision was why the studio behind the Fantastic Beasts franchise asked him to resign. “I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts, and I have respected and agreed to that request,” Depp revealed.
August Alsina helped bring the word “entanglement” into our lives this year. August sat down with The Breakfast Club’s Angela Yee during the promotional run for his new album and shared details of his alleged relationship with Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rumours began to swirl about Jada and August in 2019 after releasing the music video for his song called “Nunya.”
The music video included a picture of a text message from someone named “Koren,” which is Jada’s middle name. He wanted to clear his name when it came to the allegations of the rumoured relationship so he told Angela that Will allegedly gave him his “blessing.” He said that he gave himself “to that relationship for years of my life, and I truly and really, really deeply love and have a ton of love for her.”
Jada confirmed she was romantically involved with the “Kissin’ On My Tattoos” singer during an episode of her Facebook Watch show, Red Table Talk. She said what started as a friendship and a family effort to help the singer with his health became a “different kind of entanglement” when she and Will were on a break. “An entanglement? A relationship,” Will said, telling Jada to be more specific. August took the word “entanglement” and ran with it because shortly after, he released a song titled “Entanglements” featuring Rick Ross, and he spilled even more tea on his situationship with Jada.
Tom Hank’s son, Chet, made headlines in January when he left many people scratching their heads after footage of him speaking in a faux Jamaican accent on the Golden Globes red carpet made its rounds online. This all went down ahead of his father accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award. Chet attempted to speak Patois in a video filmed on the red carpet, saying, “Big up the whole island massive, it’s your boy Chet coming straight from the Golden Globes.” He posted to video on Instagram and captioned it, “BIG UP FIMI WHOL FAMILY SOON COM AT DI AWARDS NA SEEN. CHUNE IN.”
Many people took to social media to call Chet out for cultural appropriation. In February, Chet, who has had roles in shows such as Shameless and Empire, shared another video of himself speaking about his idea of cultural appropriation. He shared some of the responses he had been receiving on his Instagram videos, which largely feature him using an accent. He said he was confused by people saying white people have no culture and said that he believes that snowboarding is an example of “white culture.”
He used different comparisons involving music. “Let’s switch it up to hip hop versus country music,” he said. “If a white person gets into hip hop and they start getting braids and gold teeth, some people call that appropriation. But if a Black person puts on a cowboy hat and gets into country music, there’s nothing wrong with that. Why would anybody have a problem with that?” Please, Chet, stop!
Vanessa Hudgens became the most hated person on Instagram after she said that people dying from coronavirus was “inevitable” in March. She went on a entitled rant about her postponed trip to London, England, the rescheduling of Coachella and then complained about the ongoing pandemic. “I’m sorry, but like, it’s a virus, I get it. Like, I respect it, but at the same time, like, even if everybody gets it, like, yeah, people are gonna die. Which is terrible, but like, inevitable?” the Princess Switch star said. She also claimed that the virus would last “’til July sounds like a bunch of bullsh-t.” Well, Vanessa, you have proved that you are not the next Miss Cleo.
Hudgens apologized for her comments a few hours later after receiving much backlash. She posted a note on Twitter and said she was sorry “for offending anyone and everyone” who watched her Instagram Live video. “I realize my words were insensitive and not at all appropriate for the situation our country and the world are in right now,” Hudgens wrote.
Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine was released from jail in April and ready to start a feud with Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber by May. 6ix9ine claimed that he was ready to take over the charts and blah, blah, blah, but when he saw that his numbers weren’t getting him to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts, he decided to blame everyone but himself. On May 8, the “STOOPID” rapper released his new song “GOOBA,” and Ariana and Justin released their quarantine collab, “Stuck With U.” The two songs were battling it out for that week’s Billboard No. 1 spot. “Stuck With U” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts while “GOOBA” sat at the No. 3 spot behind Doja Cat and Nicki Minaj’s “Say So remix.”
After the chart was revealed, 6ix9ine turned into King Petty and claimed that Billboard “gets paid for No. 1s.” 6ix9ine claimed that Ariana and Justin “went from fifth place to being first place out of nowhere. So GOOBA never jumps to No. 1 but Ariana jumps from No. 5 to No. 1.” He also referred to Billboard’s tweet about fans being able to receive a signed “Stuck With U” CD and accused them of manipulating the charts by creating bundle packages.
The “KEKE” rapper posted another angry rant on Instagram where he alleged that 30,000 units were bought with the same six credit cards. He really put on his Inspector Gadget hat for this one.
Ariana took to Instagram to refute the 24-year-old rapper’s claims. She wrote, “to anybody that is displeased with their placement on the chart this week or who is spending their time racking their brain thinking of as many ways as they can to discredit hardworking women (and only the women for some reason…..), i ask u to take a moment to humble yourself. be grateful you’re even here.” Ariana, gracious as ever, added a little nod to 6ix9ine, saying, “congratulations to all my talented ass peers in the top ten this week. even number 3.”
Terry Crews has made headlines this year for his Twitter fingers. In January, Crews was under fire after tweeting that his wife is the only woman he’s worried about keeping happy following the comments he made about Gabrielle Union’s exit from America’s Got Talent. “There is only one woman one (sic) earth I have to please,” Crews wrote. “Her name is Rebecca. Not my mother, my sister, my daughters or co-workers. I will let their husbands / boyfriends / partners take care of them.”
The tweet came days after Union responded to his comments about her exit from the show. During an interview with Today on January 23, Crews said that Union’s experiences of racism and sexism on the series don’t reflect his own. “First of all, I can’t speak for sexism because I’m not a woman, but I can speak on behalf of any racism comments,” he said. “That was never my experience on America’s Got Talent, in fact, it was the most diverse place I have ever been in my 20 years of entertainment. The Top 10 acts were Asian, women, older, younger, Black, white, it was everything in the gamut.”
Union tweeted about the situation without mentioning Crews’ name. “Truth telling, wanting change & having MULTIPLE witnesses who bravely came forward to let EVERYONE know I didn’t lie or exaggerate, really exposes those who enthusiastically will throw you under the bus, forgetting quickly who stepped up 4 THEIR truth,” she said in response to a fan.
Months later, Crews was under fire again for his “Black supremacy” tweet. In June, the Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor wrote, “defeating White supremacy without White people creates Black supremacy. Equality is the truth. Like it or not, we are all in this together.”
Crews’ tweet came after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed in police custody by a white police officer who was filmed brutally kneeling against his neck. In another tweet, Crews said, “Any Black person who calls me a coon or an Uncle Tom for promoting EQUALITY is a Black Supremacist because they have determined who’s Black and who is not.”
His former co-star from Everybody Hates Chris had something to say. “I’m not trying to call you out @TerryCrews. You know it’s all love always. But we’re rightfully angry right now and fed up with anyone not with our cause wholeheartedly. I don’t want to see that energy pointed your way or diverted from the cause,” James Williams said to his on-screen dad.
Although many of us love Scooter Braun for giving us stars like Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, he was surrounded by controversy this year after releasing the new live Taylor Swift album and then selling her masters. In April, Braun’s Big Machine Records released Live From Clear Channel Stripped 2008, which included eight performances from Swift. “It looks to me like Scooter Braun and his financial backers, 23 Capital, Alex Soros and the Soros family and the Carlyle Group have seen the latest balance sheets and realized that paying $330 MILLION for my music wasn’t exactly a wise choice and they need money,” Swift said, denouncing the release of the album.
To make matters worse, Braun sold Swift’s catalogue to a new company and will continue to profit from her music sales under the new deal. After news of the deal went public, Swift released a statement, saying, “Scooter’s team wanted me to sign an ironclad NDA stating I would never say another word about Scooter Braun unless it was positive, before we could even look at the financial records of BMLG (which is always the first step in a purchase of this nature).” Luckily T-Swift fans are looking forward to the singer re-recording and re-releasing her old masters.
Hilaria Baldwin was just a few days short of missing the most controversials stars of 2020 list. On December 28th Hilaria... or Hillary, confirmed that she is a white woman from Boston after previously leading people to believe that she is from Spain. The wife of actor Alec Baldwin posted a lengthy video on Instagram to try to explain her way out of a very messy sitation after many social media users claimed that she was faking her Spanish accent.
"I've seen chatter online questioning my identity and culture," she captioned the video. "This is something I take very seriously,and for those who are asking — I'll reiterate my story, as I've done many times before. I was born in Boston and grew up spending time with my family between Massachusetts and Spain. My parents and sibling live in Spain and I chose to live here, in the USA. We celebrate both cultures in our home — Alec and I are raising our children bilingual, just as I was raised. This is very important to me. I understand that my story is a little different, but it is mine, and I'm very proud of it." She addressed those who have questioned her changing accent over the years, and blamed it on speaking both Spanish and English growing up. “I am that person, if I’ve been speaking a lot of Spanish, I tend to mix them or if I’m speaking a lot of English, I mix that, it’s one of those things I’ve always been a bit insecure about,” she said, adding that she will try to correct that in 2021.
Hilaria addressed the allegations that she changed her name from Hillary to Hilaria after using the name in high school. “When I was growing up, in this country I would use the name Hillary, and in Spain I would use Hilaria and my family, my parents, call me Hilaria,” she said, adding that after she and Alec got together she decided to officially go by Hilaria.
To sum up her Instagram video, Hilaria confirmed she is "a white girl" and her family "is white." She said that Europe has "a lot of white people in" it and claimed that she is "a mix of many, many things." Hilaria's feelings are hurt because she doesn't understand why "people say I'm not being authentic" and why it's turned "into such a big thing." Well Hilaria, as a white woman you took on a more Spanish-sounding name and accent to try and find success which is a major problem.
[video_embed id='2104392']BEFORE YOU GO: Gal Gadot dishes on her real-life friendship with on-screen nemesis Kristen Wiig[/video_embed]