3Sean Penn Tied Up and Then Beat the Crap Out of Madonna
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Sean Penn is known for two things: acting and taking regular shits on right-wing politics. When the phrase "Hollywood liberal" gets tossed around, Penn is often one of the first examples mentioned. The Iraq War was perhaps his finest moment, as he spared no expense in letting the world know exactly how he felt about young people dying for oil. Over and over again.
"Look at me! Look at me ... er, I mean, no more war!"
So it's easy to think of him as a Bono type, a guy who might be annoying, but only because he cares about the suffering in the world too much.
While married to Madonna, Sean Penn pulled a Chris Brown that out-Chris Browned Chris Brown before there even was a Chris Brown.
He punched three women to steal that cigarette.
The two then-rising stars were married in 1985, although nobody really knows why, since the whole thing was a mess from the start. Sure, Penn was a ragehead who dealt with annoying paparazzi by shooting at them, dangling them upside down from balconies, and smacking them with rocks. But that's not what we're talking about here; his knack for doing the same kind of stuff to Madonna, however, very much is.
Penn and Madonna would get into violent arguments all the time, and it probably didn't help that Penn drank so much every night that even Andre the Giant would've told him to slow it the fuck down. Finally, in 1988, after Penn flew into a rage over Madonna's supposed affair with Warren Beatty, she called the marriage off. Penn responded by turning his abusive nutcase dial up to 11.
Brenda Chase / Stringer / Getty
Aka "the only number it ever went up to in the first place."
After he got good and drunk (again), Penn climbed into Madonna's house, where she was alone. He then grabbed her, tied her to a chair, and assaulted her for hours, both physically and emotionally. He then went out for more booze, came back, and kept up the beating. Madonna only escaped after telling Penn that she had to go to the bathroom, which meant he had no problem battering, beating, bloodying, and bruising the supposed love of his life, but felt it would have been too degrading to make her pee in front of him.
Why You Forgot About It:
While Penn was arrested, the charges were dropped because Madonna didn't want to generate a media circus, which may have been the one and only time in her life that Madonna actually wanted the press to go away. A couple of decades of political activism and two Oscars later, and the world barely remembers an incident that would turn most people into a pariah. But hey, can we really blame him for the immature mistakes he made when he was only, uh, 25 years old?
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Punch him. Punch him right in the glasses.
2Charles Dickens Split from His Wife in the Most Assholish Manner Imaginable
Don't let us imply that dickish celebrity behavior is some kind of recent phenomenon. For instance, there is classic author Charles Dickens.
"Bet you didn't think this was how I looked. Weird, right?"
Charles Dickens' ability to market orphans as adorable made him one of the few literary geniuses who actually got recognized during his lifetime. He was basically the 19th century version of a rock star. And just like a good little rock star, he dumped his aging wife for an 18-year-old actress, and didn't give a shit who knew it.
It's one thing to end a marriage; it's quite another to make your hatred of your spouse as public as humanly possible, which is exactly what Dickens did. In 1836, a then-unknown Dickens married Catherine Hogarth; by all accounts, it was a pleasant enough marriage, resulting in 10 children. Then, Catherine got fat. This was apparently an unforgivable sin in the Dickens household, where the ability to push out 10 kids must surely mean you can at least do a couple push-ups right after.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University
"You only ran 5 miles today? Such a cow."
So he went and got himself a mistress, 18-year-old actress Ellen Ternan. Now, cheating on your wife because she got old and overweight is bad, but what happened next truly exposed Dickens as a douche on the level of any evil orphanage shutter-downer in his books. Once his affair was made public in 1858, he went on the warpath, slandering his estranged wife in newspaper after newspaper and letter after letter. According to him, Catherine was a "donkey," an "unloving and unloved mother," not his intellectual equal, and entirely to blame for saddling him with so many noisy-ass children. What, was he banging her under the influence of hypnosis?
His annoyance over so many kids didn't stop him from claiming custody of nine of them, with only the oldest, Charles Jr., being financially independent enough to flip his father the finger and stay with his mother.
"That old schizophrenic bastard can die alone with his hallucinations."
Why You Forgot About It:
Creating that whole "White Christmas" thing helped keep Dickens in the public's good graces, but so did Catherine's outright refusal to rebut. She never reacted to Dickens' abuse and never rebuffed his public letters, or even spoke to a journalist. Literally her only comeback came on her deathbed in 1879 when she handed over a collection of letters Dickens wrote her, with the simple request, "Give these to the British Museum, that the world may know he loved me once."
Goddammit, who let all these chopped onions and dust mites into the room all of a sudden?
Here's a drawing of Dickens as a child laborer, just in case you aren't topped out on sad.