9 Celebrities Who Got Tricked Into Promoting Horrible Causes
When you're a celebrity, everyone wants something from you -- money, endorsements, an autograph, some blood for paternity testing, etc. So famous people are always on their guard, wary of publicly supporting something completely embarrassing (or potentially career-ruining). Well, most of them are wary. Not these folks.
Brett Favre And Flavor Flav Got Tricked Into Making VERY Questionable Cameos
In the years since retiring from the Green Bay Packers, former NFL quarterback Brett Favre has met few dubious endorsement opportunities that he and whomever dumps the wheelbarrows of cash on his lawn didn't like. Cameo, an app that lets users shell out cash to have celebrities create personalized video messages, was certainly not beneath him, and at $500 a pop, it must've seemed much more pleasant than having to drive to conventions to sign autographs. What could go wrong?
Favre, as well as fellow Cameo-curious celebs Soulja Boy and Andy Dick, all got tricked into lending their support to a cabal of antisemites. They agreed to read seemingly innocuous phrases that were actually coded messages designed to tickle the fancies of any white supremacists who happened to be listening. Here's an example, using what Favre was paid to say:
"Brett Favre here with a shout out to the Handsome Truth and the GDL boys. You guys are patriots in my eyes. So keep waking them up and don't let the small get you down. Keep fighting, too, and don't ever forget the USS Liberty and the men and women who died on that day. God bless and take care."
"Waking them up" means indoctrinating people into hating Jews, "small" references small hats (as in yarmulkes), and "USS Liberty" refers to a conspiracy theory that blames Israel for an attack on an American ship during the Six-Day War. To his credit, Favre apologized profusely once it came to his attention that he had unwittingly channeled the ghost of Goebbels.
Flavor Flav, meanwhile, got duped into giving a "happy retirement" message to George Pell, adding, "All of the boys on the choir respected you, you know what I'm saying!" If that name rings a bell, it's because Pell was a high-ranking Australian cardinal who was sentenced to six years in prison for sexually abusing minors. So if you're a celebrity who's aware of Cameo, take a couple of extra seconds and also acquaint yourself with the website "Google."
Rage Against The Machine Expressed Support For A Mass-Murdering Militia
Rage Against the Machine is a leftist rock group that has always been very explicit in their activism, even if that zeal has led them to express support for individuals who may be a tad questionable. But their most infamous example of misguided affirmation came in the music video for "Bombtrack," from their debut album. In it, the band gives a shout-out to Abimael Guzman, the leader of the Peruvian Maoist movement Sendero Luminoso ("Shining Path").
Sendero Luminoso started a civil war that left more than 60,000 dead civilians, most of them indigenous peasants. Luminoso was responsible for at least half of those deaths. To get an idea of how ruthless and sectarian they were, many of their victims were leftist politicians (who they considered "revisionists"), trade union leaders, community organizers (including Maria Elena Moyano, a popular black feminist and socialist activist in Peru), and of course, the impoverished peasants who refused to join them. What's worse, when they were pushed back and forced to hide in the forests, they ended up enslaving native tribes and kidnapping teenage girls so they could have child soldiers. Think ISIS, but with red flags and the hammer and sickle. Oh and did we mention that they eventually diversified to become brutal drug lords, too?
The band acknowledged their mistake and publicly disavowed Sendero Luminoso and its psychopathic leader in the late '90s, and to their credit, that was even before many of their worst atrocities were well-known. But for a brief period in 1992, the "Machine" they were raging against was "poor people who didn't want to join the guerrilla group that strung up dogs to send a message."
Related: How The NRA Lost Its Mind
Adriana Lima Promotes A Turkish Terror Group
Back in 2015, Brazilian Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima was approached by a Turkish boxer, who asked her to help advertise a new gym he was opening, because that happens eight times a day when you're a supermodel. She agreed, foolishly assuming this probably wouldn't be something secretly related to a terrorist group, and posed with the guy while throwing out a specific hand gesture and uttering "Bozkurtlar!" which probably means "Good boxing gym!" or something, right?
Turns out she was making the signal of the Turkish fascists the Grey Wolves and declaring "Wolves!" Why was a supermodel boosting a group that's been responsible for hundreds of assassinations, bombings, and other attacks against journalists and minorities in Turkey over the past four decades? Lima's reps claimed she was tricked, calling it an "abuse of the model's good will." Though they probably wouldn't admit it if their client was a sleeper agent for a group that once plotted to assassinate the Pope.
Disturbed's Vocalist Defended GamerGate Until He Realized Something Was Off
David Draiman, the lead singer of Disturbed, views himself as an avowed crusader against unnecessary treating people with respect. In accordance with these principles, he decided to thrust himself into the middle of the GamerGate controversy, tweeting his full-throated support of the movement and their free speech agitating, though he didn't appear to totally grasp what the controversy was about.
In one tweet, Draiman stated "I SUPPORT #GamerGate. PEOPLE/THE MEDIA, ARE TOO DAMN POLITICALLY CORRECT FOR THEIR OWN GOOD. DONT LIKE WHATS IN THE GAME? DONT BUY/PLAY IT." He said that the hate against the movement went against all he and Disturbed stood for.
Presumably, Draiman wasn't dissuaded by (or aware of?) GamerGate "members" threatening death and rape against female game developers, and he maintained his support until the following April. But when Draiman noticed a number of GamerGaters frequently posting antisemitic comments, he was taken aback, and decided to publicly demand that they announce that they weren't bigots.
Most of them couldn't handle that, and lashed back at Draiman by doubling down on their hate-posting, leading him to block over 250 people. Draiman realized, as his stupefied friends had been trying to tell him for months, that GamerGate was extremely down with the sickness that is hate speech, and their cries of First Amendment rights violations were really angry reactions to society condemning things like misogyny and racism.
Celebrities Can't Stop Supporting Shady Cryptocurrencies
DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather were hired to promote a cryptocurrency called "Centra" and their Initial Coin Offering, a crowdfunded investment event which ended up making over $32 million. Investors were promised that they would be a part of multiple new financial products, including a debit card backed by Visa and MasterCard, which would allow users to easily convert various digital currencies to cash. Unbeknownst to almost everyone involved, the platform was fraudulent and had no major payment processing endorsement. The company's co-founders were later indicted by the SEC.
The celebrity duo was charged as well, but for a different crime: failing to disclose the payments they received for the promotion, which according to the SEC may have made their support during the event seem unbiased as opposed to a paid endorsement. Both settled out of court, with Mayweather paying $614,775 and Khaled paying $152,745 in Physical Earth Dollars.
But that's not the only cryptocurrency ICO mired in star-studded legal controversy. Steven Seagal made the executive decision to become a "brand ambassador" for Bitcoiin, also known as Bitcoiin2Gen. Yes, that's "Bitcoiin" with two I's, because why work harder to scam people when you've got Hollywood's 13th-biggest box office draw (calendar year 1992) in your corner? Totally legit omen here: Seagal and the anonymous founders immediately exited the project in a flight of fury upon the ICO's completion.
Bitcoiin received a cease and desist order from the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, but went through with their ICO anyway. But after investors' deposits and withdrawals were disabled for months, Bitcoiin claimed it would be available to trade on the unregulated platform Digifinex out of Singapore. Yet it remained inaccessible to U.S. (and even Singaporean) users.
Last but not least, we have Paris Hilton, who shrewdly got into promoting shady crypto before her male counterparts. A 2017 Twitter update stated she was looking forward to Lydian, a cryptocurrency token created by Gravity4, whose CEO was found guilty of hitting his then-girlfriend 117 times, after which he violated parole by assaulting another woman. Many believe that the SEC statement here, which basically says that tokens might be financial securities and to be careful advertising for them, was in response to this tweet. If only DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather had read press releases from SEC dot gov more diligently. They'd be a couple hundred thousand dollars richer right now.
For more, check out The 6 Most Surreal Celebrity Endorsements - The Spit Take:
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