Thanks to social media, we have a pretty good idea of who exactly is an irredeemable shithead. Unfortunately, the answer is "almost everybody." Every day, we learn that some powerful, beloved public figure is guilty of truly shocking abuse. And that's not social media's "fault" -- we simply never had such a quick and easy way to warn each other about people's insane crap before. Like how ...
Folk has to be one of the more polite music scenes. You never hear stories about Woody Guthrie biting heads off bats onstage, or Donovan being so high that he stormed an insurance office with a loaded shotgun. Folk singers are a soft-spoken, easygoing bunch, like John "Just A Club Soda For Me, Thanks" Denver. Except that the man famous for Take Me Home, Country Roads did have one violent trigger: landscaping.
In 1982, after 14 years of turbulent marriage, Denver was living in his guest cabin (the folksiest of divorced dad domiciles) while he and his then-wife Annie Martell (of Annie's Song fame) were separating. One day, after returning to his home in Colorado, he noticed that Martell had cut down a few of his oak trees while he'd been away. Denver really loved those old oak trees, and felt that his wife had made a mistake. So he calmly walked into the house and told her, "You shouldn't have done that." A very mature thing to do, except that he was also holding a chainsaw.
Denver decided to pay her back in kind by cutting everything in their house in half. He chainsawed the table. He chainsawed the kitchen. He very symbolically chainsawed their marital bed. After destroying his entire house (really chainsawing his nose to spite his face), the singer-songwriter tried to strangle his wife. He later admitted, ''Before I knew it, I had her on the kitchen counter and my hands were around her throat. And I stopped. I had almost lost control but didn't.''
Y-you didn't? You define a chainsaw rampage and attempted strangling as being "in control"?
John Lennon's greatest talent wasn't music, but tricking people into thinking he was a peace-loving hippie instead of the abusive asshole he really was. But you can be a progressive dude and still hit women, apparently. Just ask Sean Penn. Lennon also didn't have a very enlightened view on homosexuality, and was willing to beat people within an inch of their lives for suggesting he might be gay.
In May of 1963, Lennon and legendary Beatles manager Brian Epstein took a very private trip together to sunny Barcelona. Rumors quickly started flying that the two might be having a bit of a romance, which infuriated Lennon. He finally exploded during Paul McCartney's 21st birthday party, when Bob Wooler, a friend of Lennon (and the one who introduced the Beatles to Epstein), jokingly teased Lennon by saying, "Come on, John, tell me about you and Brian. We all know." That's it. That's the whole quote.
John responded the only way a sensitive artist could: by brutally beating the man to a pulp.
While Wooler was "begging him to stop," Lennon kept punching, kicking, and beating him with a stick like he was a human pinata. Lennon later admitted that he was thinking, "I could kill this guy," and he said that it took him a while before he regained some clarity. In the meantime, Lennon had thoroughly messed up Wooler's face and rib cage, though he did make a full recovery. Jesus, he's lucky he didn't ask if Lennon "had a good time" -- he'd have been made a stain on the sidewalk.
In 2017, Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed Molly's Game, the hagiography of Molly Bloom, who ran a secret high-stakes poker empire in Hollywood. One of the movie's characters (played by Michael Cera) is there to symbolize "various unnamed actors who play high stakes poker," like, for instance, Tobey Maguire. But his character is vile, manipulative, and deeply misogynistic.
Which it turns out is also just like Tobey Maguire.
Bloom recalled that after winning big during one of her games, Maguire pretended to tip her with a thousand-dollar chip to show his gratitude. But when she went to get it, he decided that he would only give it to her if she were to bark like a seal in front of everyone. Maguire played these weird moves constantly, aggressively pressuring Bloom into humiliating herself for his pleasure. Bloom always refused to do his bidding, however, so if there's any consolation here, let it be that Tobey Maguire may not be as nice as he seems on screen, but he is just as impotent.
Tim Murphy is a former representative from the state of Pennsylvania. Emphasis on "former." As a good Republican, one of Murphy's political platforms was being pro-marriage and anti-abortion, so much so that he was a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus. So why was he asked to step down? Because he tried to force his young mistress to have an abortion.
His former staffers were glad to see Murphy go, since he, along with his loyal chief of staff, were responsible for creating a working environment so hostile that it made the first hour of Full Metal Jacket look like In The Army Now.
Chief of staff Susan Mosychuk was the Captain Phasma to Ryan's General Hux, helping to nurture a climate of fear practically unheard of outside a parent/teacher conference with Alec Baldwin. She constantly berated her workers, belittled their efforts, and called them "garbage." Meanwhile, Ryan himself possessed "an inability to communicate without expressions of rage, criticisms or insults" -- and that's saying something, considering that the above quote comes from Mosychuk herself.
Mosychuk lost her $168,411 salary when Murphy was forced to resign from public office in disgrace as a result of the abortion fiasco. So what does the future hold for the former representative? Well, presumably he'll be returning to his previous career ... as a clinical psychologist.
The murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman angered millions, many of whom took to the streets to voice their anger about black lives and the apparently controversial idea that they might matter. Amidst the calls for change, the rational pleas, and the respectful civil disobedience, one public figure thought it would be a good idea to get a mob together and attack someone's house.
During the 2013 Black Lives Matter protests, filmmaker and all-around angry dude Spike Lee decided that if Zimmerman wasn't getting any real justice, mob justice would do perfectly well. He posted the killer's private home address to his hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, followed by the message, "I don't give a fuck what you think kill that Bitch. HERE GO HIS ADDRESS, LET THE HUNGER GAMES BEGIN." Or at least, that's what he thought he was doing. Instead, he got the address wrong, sending "THE HUNGER GAMES" to the home of some random elderly couple.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
For days, David and Elaine McClain (whose youngest son's name is William George Zimmerman) were harassed, threatened with violence, and bombarded with hate mail. The family had to flee to a hotel, and they eventually sued Lee, who was forced to apologize, retract the tweet, and pay them a modest $10,000 settlement. But when the harassment still wouldn't end, the McClains took Lee to court and sued for an additional $15,000, which he refused to pay, claiming that ten grand was more than enough for siccing The Purge on some unsuspecting old folks.
Michael Battaglino is a new contributor to Cracked.com. Be sure to check out some of his other work if you enjoyed this article.
If you're ever going to beat Tobey Maguire at his own game, grab some poker chips and practice.
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