5 Incredibly Screwed-Up Acts By Beloved Celebrities
Celebrities are just like us, in that they try to keep their dark sides hidden from the world lest it ruin their reputation for all eternity. But while we'll go to our graves before we reveal our unorthodox ranking of hot dog condiments, nonstop exposure to a public that tells them their opinion on every subject in existence is vital has some celebrities letting the mask slip to reveal a braying jackass beneath.
Ice Cube's Been Dabbling In Anti-Semitic Memes
The Twitter feed of Ice Cube (real name Ichabod Cube) is the kind of whirling nonstop opinion parade that you'd expect from someone with way, way more time on their hands. Most of what he posts is benign and understandable: Trump is a doofus, fuck the police unless we're talking the beloved Ride Along Cinematic Universe, it's weird that America has military bases named after Confederates, it's weird that Ice Cube at age 5 has the exact same expression as Ice Cube at 50.
But having the same reposting filters as your grandma has led to Cube endorsing weird stuff, like this Ben "Definitely Cranks it to Trump" Garrison cartoon portraying anyone who wears a mask to shield their fellow citizens from COVID as cowards duped by a liberal media that's invented a plague to advance a variety of nefarious conspiracies. Garrison, when he's not mocking school shooting survivors, has dabbled in anti-Semitism with all the subtlety of a German public school textbook circa 1938. A cartoon depicting the Rothchilds as shadowy puppeteers managed to get him uninvited from a White House event, and you have to try pretty damn hard to make the Trump White House distance themselves from you.
Cube, meanwhile, has been sharing conspiratorial images, like a mural portraying scheming, hook-nosed Jews secretly controlling the world by an artist who, just in case you didn't pick up on his subtle messaging, has called Jews "demons." Over a spree of posts that, in a non-COVID world, should have seen an assistant rip his phone from his hands and throw it into the nearest river, Cube linked the oppression of black people to a Jewish conspiracy in-between sharing pictures of Trump photoshopped as the Joker, to the applause of 14-year-olds intellectuals everywhere.
When critics pointed out that his anti-Trump hot takes were hard to take seriously when wedged between his anti-Semitic hot takes, he responded with posts like "I speak for no organization. I only speak for the meek people of thee earth. We will not expect crumbles from your table" and "DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE: THE DEVIL WILL COME AT ME (AND YOU) WITH THIS TATIC. 1)Dismiss us 2)Discredit us 3)Demonize us 4)Destroy us!!! The formula they used against Martin Luther King Jr & many others!!!" So, he was in a bit of a mood.
The fact that Cube also retweeted a QAnon image about how the media has committed treason, then told a critic "I don't know who the f--k Q is? It's just a True statement" tempts us to write this off as isolation driving him stir-crazy. But Cube has palled around with anti-Semitic preacher and all-around weirdo Louis "Actually, German Jews Funded the Holocaust, Duh" Farrakhan, and in 2015 he was accused of having his posse assault a rabbi while slinging epithets. So, he's unfortunately in deeper than his rogue grandma tweet storm would suggest.
Big sigh here, Cube. Well, we'll always have Nickelodeon.
The Russell Simmons Documentary, And 50 Cent Attacking It, Got Drowned Out By Everything Else Happening In 2020
Russell Simmons co-founded Def Jam in 1984, and if you're white enough to consider Taylor Swift's newer work too "urban" let's just say that was a big deal in the history of hip hop. In 2017 he was accused of raping a model when she was 17, and that led to a flood of evidence that he's been a predatory creep all these years.
HBO documentary On the Record summed up the parade of accusations. But it was released in May, when we were all in the middle of dealing with a lot of other shit, so let's recap the basics. Thirteen women have accused Simmons of sexual assault or rape, several of whom were underage at the time. The details are lengthy and depressing but, as a cherry on top (an analogy we use under the assumption that you hate cherries), when Terry Crews told the story of being groped by Hollywood executive Adam Venit, Simmons emailed Crews to ask him to "give [Venit] a pass." He added that "With great love, all things are possible." Gee, why could Simmons have been encouraging immediate forgiveness? And if great love makes all things possible, why did Simmons relocate to extradition-treaty-lacking Indonesia?
At least when the documentary came out, the truth could finally be heard... after 50 Cent attacked it for not being about a white sex offender instead. Several of the interview subjects did note that they wanted to bring Simmons to justice without reinforcing the awful stereotype of black men as sex-driven predators that's fueled horrific violence against them in America since, well, the founding of the country, basically. But 50 is also pals with Simmons, and he mocked Crews' accusations against Venit, so maybe he's just an asshole. Don't worry, guy who faced a domestic violence charge and made fun of an autistic teenager in an airport, there are plenty of documentaries to go around.
An Austin Powers Side Character Committed A Horrific Crime
As vague rumours of a fourth Austin Powers movie continue to creak like your grandfather's bones, it's worth remembering how strange it is to revisit the existing films. Not only were there some jokes that didn't get beaten into the ground by your least funny acquaintances, but there are multiple actors who now prompt a reaction of "Oh, Jesus Christ, it's that guy."
First and foremost is Joe Son, whose portrayal of Random Task had audiences saying "Okay, I get it, it's an Odd Job parody, we can move on now." While Son had a few other acting roles, he was better known for his wrestling and MMA career, and is now best known for his torture conviction. On Christmas Eve 1990, Son and another man kidnapped a woman and performed a variety of acts too depressing to detail on a comedy site. He was caught in 2008 after a conviction for vandalism required him to provide a DNA sample that linked him to the case. Then, in 2011, he performed further work on his villainous Bingo card by beating his cellmate to death. So he's serving a life sentence, and the best thing you can say about seeing him onscreen today is that the part where he gets knocked unconscious now has a grim sense of satisfaction to it.
And he's not the only Austin Powers actor with a sketchy background ...
We Somehow Keep Forgetting Rob Lowe's Creepiness
Rob Lowe was one of the actors to play Austin Power's villainous Number Two (Do you get it? It's a bit of a thinker), but that high-profile role only came after he'd established himself in early work like Wayne's World, St. Elmo's Fire, and a sex tape made with a 16-year-old girl. But hey, who among us, aside from the overwhelming majority of us, wasn't sleeping with 16-year-olds when we were 24?
This happened in Georgia at a time when the state's age of consent was still 14 (way to fight those southern stereotypes, Georgia!), although the legal age for filming those particular activities was 18. But never mind the illegality and general moral squickiness -- this incident, alongside a less immoral if still aesthetically disquieting Lowe sex tape -- were used to mock Lowe before becoming obstacles he could heroically overcome, and even make fun of himself, on his return to Hollywood mediocrity. A flattering 1990 People profile talks about the friends who came to Lowe's defense while shaming the 16-year-old's mother for exploiting her child in a "shakedown," aka a lawsuit.
But Lowe ends the interview by talking about how he wants to become a better man, and in 2019 he said the incident inspired him to sober up and get his life together. And indeed he did. Except in 2008, when two nannies employed by Lowe sued him, with one accusing him of groping her and exposing himself and the other claiming his wife created an "extremely sexually offensive and hostile work environment" by strolling around naked, asking personal questions about the nanny's love life, and opining on her own sex life with Rob.
The Lowes filed their own suits and, after both parties had to deal with a lot of sleazy tabloid nonsense, the whole legal battle was dismissed by mutual agreement. Whichever side you believe, these are kind of moral quagmires we must wade through to support a talent like Lowe's that makes even his staunchest critics say "Oh, he's still around? And hosting a game show called, uh, Mental Samurai? Never heard of it, but good for him, I guess."
Mariah Carey Can't Stop Playing For Dictators
In 2008, Mariah Carey performed a private New Year's Eve concert for noted music enthusiast Muammar Gaddafi. When criticized, Carey expressed "embarrassment," presumably because she had got Muammar mixed up with some other wealthy Gaddafi who hadn't committed a litany of crimes against humanity. Hey, it was a time when America gave no thought to the Middle East, and the internet was just a series of Halo 3 Angelfire pages. How could she have known? Carey said she'd learned a valuable lesson, and she even promised to release a single to raise money for human rights charities.
But in 2013 Carey remembered an earlier life lesson, "I like money," and accepted a million dollars to perform at an event featuring Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ran Angola as an abusive kleptocratic playground between 1979 and 2017. He fills out a dictator checklist nicely: oppressing his opposition, amassing a vast personal wealth while most of his subjects had to scrape by on less than two dollars a day, creating a network of kickbacks and grift. To be fair, the real fan at the show was his daughter, Isabel, who became Africa's first female billionaire ... thanks entirely to nepotism and theft. Way to support girl power, Mariah!
Okay, but that time, Carey definitely super-duper learned her lesson. Until 2019, when she performed in Saudi Arabia just three months after Jamal Khashoggi had been murdered by the Saudi government. It also wasn't a suuuper great look for a singer beloved by the LGBT community to perform in a country where being gay can get you flogged and jailed. Carey is going to have to release a lot more charity singles at this rate, especially since the first one was never actually released. Oopsies! But maybe the third time's the charm, and Mariah Carey will finally step back and take a long, hard look at her decisions. Or just focus on dealing with the lawsuit from her personal assistant that claims Carey stood by while her manager sexually assaulted the assistant, called her various slurs, and urinated on her. You know, one or the other.