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Athletes and entertainers don't always have the easiest time of it in the press. That's probably because of sites like this one and jerks like me. See, it's my job to make fun of the things that people want made fun of. But guess what, that doesn't mean I necessarily agree. I'll make a joke about anything if the situation calls for it. But sometimes, believe it or not, I'm only joking. That's as true for "awful" celebrities as it is for anyone or anything else.

Here are five celebrities who get way more hate than they deserve.

Fall Out Boy


Why All the Hate?

Fall Out Boy is routinely held up as an example of the very worst that music in the 2000s had to offer. We've made such a habit of mocking them here at Cracked that the band's lead singer, Patrick Stump, even mentioned us in a blog post about how everyone thinks he sucks. Hey, way to make us feel bad, asshole.

Why They Don't Deserve It

The seething rage that seems to accompany any discussion about Fall Out Boy is in no way related to their music; anyone who claims otherwise is lying to you or themselves. Understand, I'm not saying FOB is the greatest band of their generation, but musically, they aren't that bad. Patrick Stump can write a decent song, he's got a great voice, that Pete Wentz dipshit jumps around the stage all acrobatic-like, which is kind of fun to watch ... it all adds up to something in between "good" and "at least not as terrible as you claim." What they definitely are not is the worst band of their or any other decade.

Your title is safe, Nickelback.

So what made people so passionate in their hatred of this particular band above so many others? I think it was a few things. For starters, once you've reached a certain level of popularity, some segment of the population is going to turn on you. Whatever rock band happens to be dominating the radio at that moment is going to be singled out as the reason why current music sucks. For a few years there, Fall Out Boy was that band for one massively easy to mock demographic -- teens. More specifically, "emo" teens.

Remember emo? It was the subgenre of human we all hated before hipsters claimed that mayorship sometime around 2009. The movement was dominated by sullen teens with dramatic bangs who spouted poetry about wounds that won't heal on their Myspace pages. They were the most ridiculed group of people on the Internet for a good number of years, and because their bass player also had dramatic bangs, Fall Out Boy were appointed their official spokesmen.

Look, deep down, nobody truly hates this song ...

I don't think the human psyche is constructed in a way that allows us to. That shit is catchy as all get out. But what we're more than capable of hating is that which we don't understand, and damn if any of us will ever understand this sad little fella ...

Basically, Fall Out Boy was collateral damage in the Internet's war against emo (Pete Wentz's tabloid-friendly marriage to Ashlee Simpson didn't help, either). You don't have to forgive them for providing the soundtrack to your kid sister's cutting phase, but it's at least time to admit that they were an OK band.

LeBron James


Why All the Hate?

For the first part of his career, LeBron James was beloved basketball royalty. All hard work and results with none of the arrogant, cocky, rape-the-help style swagger that Kobe Bryant so often displayed. But everything changed when LeBron James became a free agent. For months there was speculation surrounding where the highly valued free agent would end up. And then, with one televised (not to mention ill-advised) press conference, nearly all of the good will LeBron James had built up within the basketball community vanished. Not only did he ditch the team he had helped build into a contender (the Cleveland Cavaliers), but he did it in the most embarrassing and audacious way imaginable.

With an angry billboard?

In no time at all, fans were literally burning LeBron James jerseys in the streets. Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert posted an open letter (written in comic sans font) to fans on the NBA website. Overnight, LeBron James had become the most hated man in basketball.

Why He Doesn't Deserve It

Yes, "The Decision" was a terrible way to let the city of Cleveland know that they were about to go back to being completely unimportant in the big scheme of anything, but what did you want LeBron James to do? If he'd just held a regular press conference, rest assured, every network in the land would have interrupted your regularly scheduled programming to bring it to you live. Would you have loved that?

Should he have announced it on Twitter like some kind of Silicon Valley nerdlinger? Would that have been viewed as hip, or would he have been chastised for treating the moment too lightly?

Even if he had just signed his deal with no fanfare and without talking to the press, he would have been vilified for shutting the media out of the story. But still, handling the business in silence is probably what he should have done.

But he didn't do that. He held a press conference on ESPN and charged them $1 million for the privilege of airing it (money he donated to charity, for the record). So what does that mean?

Well, it means that any accusations that LeBron James is not very good at breaking bad news are completely warranted. What it does not mean, though, is that LeBron James is some kind of disloyal traitor. That's what the dialogue surrounding the free agency saga eventually progressed to, though. Somehow, by doing what so many athletes before and since have done, which is to leave their team and sign with a new one, King James was now Benedict Arnold.

But was he really? What did LeBron James owe the Cleveland Cavaliers? He was drafted to play for that team, signed a contract to that effect and then fulfilled that contract. At that point, he was free to sign wherever he so desired. You wouldn't believe that if you were reading the aforementioned Dan Gilbert letter, though.

Comic sans: For those times when whatever default font your computer uses will suffice.

If that master class in rich white guy entitlement is to be believed, LeBron James owed Cleveland something. Or, more likely, he owed Dan Gilbert something. Never mind the fact that LeBron made that franchise relevant again just by being there. None of that was enough -- LeBron James belonged to Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Of course, everyone knows that's not the case; LeBron isn't owned by anyone. So why do people act like he is? Teams cut and trade veteran players all the time, and for the most part, fans view it as nothing more than business. Why does that only go one way? Why is LeBron James expected to be loyal to Cleveland but, for example, the Edmonton Oilers never became the most hated franchise in sports for trading Wayne Gretzky? Where is the outrage when a beloved player gets cut for being a few years too old and a step too slow?

None of that happens, because we expect team owners to make sometimes ruthless decisions based on the needs of their business. It's unusual to see the shoe on the other foot, but that's really all that's going on here. LeBron James is a business, too, and he made a decision that he felt was in line with the needs of that business. Who fucking cares?

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Lady Gaga


Why All the Hate?

"Hey, remember when people played instruments and wrote their own songs?" Those are the words of practically every music fan you know who happens to be over the age of 30. It was the same thing people said about Britney Spears (who kind of deserved it) and Madonna (who just stole everything, so the argument doesn't matter) back in their respective days. It just so happens that the current target of that age-old music complaint is Lady Gaga.

It's not a lot different from what Fall Out Boy went through. People need a villain to blame for "all that pop music bullshit on the radio." Lady Gaga is the lucky winner.

Why She Doesn't Deserve It

Sure, Lady Gaga does some wacky stuff (like wearing a dress made of a bunch of Kermit the Frogs, for example), and her music isn't exactly what anyone would call deep, but to write her off as the talentless byproduct of a record industry ploy to churn out pop hits is beyond unfair. For one thing, she does in fact play an instrument sometimes. Here she is playing a song called "Edge of Glory" on The Howard Stern Show. Normally, it's the kind of thing you can dance to, but here, it's just Lady Gaga and a piano that I absolutely cannot believe has not a single piece of meat draped over it:

When was the last time you saw Britney Spears pull a stunt like that? You'd be hard-pressed to get her to sing anything live at all. And remember a few years back when Madonna was learning to play guitar? If not, you can see her stumble her way through an acoustic performance beginning at approximately the 2:20 mark of this video:

You've never seen Lady Gaga have that kind of struggle, though. Her music doesn't call for too much guitar shreddery, but she clearly knows her way around a piano. And a quick scan of the credits on any of her albums will reveal that she at least participates in the songwriting process.

She's by no means as groundbreaking or innovative as she and her rabid fanbase would have you believe, but lumping her in with the usual group of pop music talent vacuums is unfair.

Barry Bonds


Why All the Hate?

Yes, that Barry Bonds. He of the cream and the clear. He of the shrunken testicles and expanding hat size. He of the tainted home run record. Barry Bonds took down a Major League Baseball record that, under normal circumstances, would put him in the conversation for greatest baseball player of all time. But he did it while he was using steroids, and that's not cool. To make matters worse, he denied it, like, forever. And because baseball has never been able to prove any wrongdoing, his hold on the home run record stands. That shit ain't right.

Why He Doesn't Deserve It

The argument that Barry Bonds' achievements have been diminished by his use of performance-enhancing drugs held a lot more weight for me back before I knew that EVERY SINGLE PERSON was taking steroids for like ten solid years in Major League Baseball. When cheating becomes that rampant, you're almost doing yourself a professional disservice to not join in. Is a raging case of back acne and a newly gained capacity to strangle your wife for asking you to take out the trash worth the $275 million contract Alex Rodriguez signed with the Yankees in 2007? For some players, obviously, it very much was.

Elsa / Getty
"Like those guys over there, probably."

So what does that home run record say about Barry Bonds when you factor in that damn near every player who was putting up big home run numbers in those days was just as dirty as he was? Simple: It means he was better than everyone else. Significantly better. At least when it came to hitting home runs he was, and that's not an easy thing to do. No matter how you slice it, Barry Bonds was the greatest home run hitter of his time. He had the same competitive advantage his peers did, but he put up far more impressive numbers. That's not a coincidence, that's skill.

And you're insane if you think that steroids are the only drug problem baseball has had. This article suggests that the real game changer in baseball was ridding the league of amphetamines, a move that some experts have pegged as the reason for the sudden and seemingly unexplained resurgence of the perfect game and no-hitter in baseball.

Barry Bonds isn't an island of wrong in a sea of right; he's just another player who did what everyone around him was doing to get an edge. I'm certainly not condoning it and would never recommend that anyone take steroids, but then again, I'm not fighting for a multimillion dollar baseball contract, am I?

Yes, Barry Bonds is an expert-level asshole who comes off like the office creep pretty much every time he opens his mouth. And yes, he almost certainly had more PEDs than blood coursing through his veins at any given time during a game. But so did everyone else at the time. The difference is, Barry Bonds was a far better hitter than all of them.

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Dane Cook


Why All the Hate?

Dane Cook's rise to fame was only slightly less swift than his Vanilla Ice-like tumble from popularity, which was precipitated mostly by claims of joke thievery. If you have Internet access, you should already know that story. If it's something that still gnaws at your conscience, you can watch the two involved parties work that shit out like adults (with television shows) in this video:

If for some reason you are still in the dark as to what I'm referring to, first off, damn you for making me do all this extra work. I expect you to come into this exchange familiar with some shit. Anyway, it's alleged that three jokes on Dane Cook's hugely popular Retaliation album were blatantly stolen from a 2003 Louis CK album. From there, the career of Dane Cook turned into a full-on hate festival wherein he went from the hottest name in comedy to literally being a punchline all his own.

Why He Doesn't Deserve It

For one thing, joke stealing is always a tricky accusation to make. Yes, the jokes in question are clearly similar (unfortunately any "comparison" videos have been scrubbed from Internet existence, because Dane Cook and Prince have the same people managing their online content, apparently), but that's not definitive proof of malicious thievery. And it definitely doesn't prove that Dane Cook isn't funny. That's a big leap to make from maybe or maybe not stealing three jokes on an album that included dozens more that nobody has claimed ownership of. Did Dane Cook write the joke in this video?

If so, he's pretty damn funny. If nothing else, hating Dane Cook for possibly stealing a few jokes from Louis CK means you at the very least need to hold Denis Leary in the same regard. Do you? No, you probably have every season of Rescue Me on DVD. But check out this video and familiarize yourself with Bill Hicks, the man Denis Leary got his entire persona (and most of his jokes) from ...

So why doesn't he get the same amount of hate that Dane Cook does? Simple: Because Denis Leary's transgressions happened back before the Internet allowed us to share examples of wrongdoing as freely and easily as we can now. Dane Cook wasn't so lucky. I'm not saying he's the world's greatest comic, and everyone is certainly allowed to not find his jokes funny, but pretending that Dane Cook is the least funny person working the comedy circuit today is a bit extreme.

Besides, everybody knows that title goes to this fucking guy ...

Kevin Winter / Getty

Adam hosts a podcast called Unpopular Opinion that you should check out right here. You should also be his friend on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

Check out more from Adam in 5 Government Programs That Backfired Horrifically and The 5 Most Ridiculous Causes to Ever Get a Website.

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