4 Childhood Faves Whose Lives Have Taken Dark Turns
How does the old saying go again, either you die a hero, or you live long enough to release "Wonderful Christmastime?" Growing up admiring a celeb on their way down can be a sobering process, like the first time you see your dad drunk on the floor messily eating a hamburger. Often, we'll lose track as they fade into obscurity, only wondering what they're up to now in the middle of the night when we can't be bothered to Google it. But then, before you know it, the next time you hear about them is when a friend tells you: "Oh, them? They're in a bad place right now ..."
The Guy Who Voiced Nice Nerd Brain on 'Arthur' Is Now A Right-wing YouTube Bigot
Watching Arthur, easily the seventh-best cartoon starring an anthropomorphic bear, many nerdy kids identified the most with Alan "The Brain" Powers, the clever but insecure ursine who always wants to help his friends with the power of logic. But while The Brain grows up to be a brilliant teleporting scientist, the guy who gave a voice to this most hardworking, rational bear on TV grew up to be a lazy alt-right troll on YouTube.
For those of you who've never heard of YouTube personality Steven Crowder, cling to that blessed ignorance and skip to the next entry. Here's a recap for the already tainted: After voicing the beloved Brainiac on Arthur, Crowder pursued the typical career path for a right-wing comedian. First, he failed as a Hollywood actor, then failed as a stand-up, then found success on the shittiest parts of YouTuber. He was eventually given an apprenticeship at the faux outrage factory that is Fox News but was allegedly dropped after three years for, and this is not a joke, not being funny enough for Fox News.
Marking the rare occurrence when we can type, “Fox News was right.”
With a massive chip on his shoulder and a note app full of dated rape jokes, Crowder was finally ready to begin his ascent to becoming Lord of the Edges. In 2017, he returned to the internet with Louder with Crowder, which he describes as the "most politically incorrect comedy channel on the web," but others as a glorified podcast where a Darkside Billy Eichner shouts right-wing talking points with all the shock jock outrage of Rush Limbaugh but none of the comedic value of Rush Limbaugh's slowly decomposing corpse.
In record time, Crowder became a hit with young online conservatives for his refreshingly overt racism, sexism, and queerphobia. Highlights from his comedy reel include referring to female comedians as "fat feminists," calling Vox staffer Carlos Maza an "angry little queer" and "that gay Mexican" (Maza is an American of Cuban descent), and making bank selling "Socialism is for F*gs" T-shirts to his fans -- the kind of edgelords who'll break the sound barrier zipping up their hoodies when they get called out for it at the gym.
But Crowder hasn't completely forgotten his Brainy roots. Apart from high-fiving himself raw for saying "spooks" in a stereotypical Black sounding voice and doing sketches pretending to be a trans woman, he also publishes hard-hitting articles that debunk progressive agendas with rigorous research and irrefutable logic. This high-minded intellectualism has led Dr. Crowder to such scientifically sound conclusions as climate change being a liberal hoax, Covid-19 being a liberal hoax, and the 2020 U.S. elections being a … you can guess the rest.
Olympic Gymnast McKayla Maroney Is In A Weird Angel Cult
For a brief moment after the London Olympics, McKayla Maroney was the most famous athlete in the world. Part of the U.S. fabled Fierce Five, the silver and gold medal-winning artistic gymnast inspired millions of kids that with hard work and faith, they too can achieve the highest honor in the world: becoming a meme that throws shade at people.
But the life of an Olympic medalist isn't all victory laps and selfies with Obama. Maroney was one of many to come forward as a victim of Larry Nassar, the Olympic doctor awarded with a 175-year life sentence for breaking the world record for child molestation, later testifying that she had been abused by him "hundreds of times" between the age of 13 and 17. Sadly, Maroney's adult life wasn't anymore free of trauma. The gymnast had to cope with leaked underage nudes, a series of career-ending injuries, and her father's death. Olympian or no, that's a lot for one tiny person to bear. So Maroney did what any extremely emotionally vulnerable young woman would do to cope: she took a break from social media, did some soul searching, and apparently joined a cult.
When Maroney returned to Instagram in 2019, her 1.3 million followers rejoiced to see her looking well and happy. But upon close inspection of her chest, eagle-eyed perverts noticed she was wearing a strange kind of pendant. That pendant turned out to be merch from a little boutique cult known as the Church of Master Angels. Positioning themselves as Scientology for people who were Taught The Controversy, the CMA mixes angel worship and cosmic frequency healing under the guidance of supreme Master John Douglas, an egg-shaped Australian who claims he can see inside blood cells and bless away any disease -- even HIV.
Want to find out more? You can't. The CMA has almost no online presence, only a '90s relic of a website that keeps its registry of believers hidden from non-members. What you can do is receive group healing prayers through their YouTube channel -- or personalized deluxe prayers for the low, low price of $200. You can also gain access to the Masters by buying some of their $2,000 mood enhancing jewelry or attending a $10,000 course that teaches believers how to harvest positive energy and summon an angel to help with the "preparation and installation of the apparatus."
For a second-class sect, converting a gold medalist and influencer of Maroney's caliber is quite a coup. (Before her, their "Tom Cruise" was the guy who invented the Fleshlight). But clearly, the CMA isn't ready for the (FBI) scrutiny that comes with hitting the cult big time. After people started poking around to see how deep Maroney's had gone, allegedly far gone enough to start a Twitter fan page called We Luv Master John Douglas, all association between the 25-year-old and the CMA began being scrubbed from the internet. Since then, Maroney hasn't made a single mention of the Masters, though her continued membership to the church of winged bullshit has been confirmed. Getting clear is never easy, but hopefully, an acrobat of her stature will manage to vault herself out of this sooner rather than later.
The Game Grumps Court Way Too Much Controversy For A Mediocre YouTube Channel
The Game Grumps Court Way Too Much Controversy For A Mediocre YouTube Channel
Remember when you were little, and you'd sneak off during family Thanksgiving to watch your older cousins play N64? Remember the exhilaration of hearing them talk with no adults around, firing off pop culture references, and cracking irreverent jokes? Remember how, when you grew older, you realized you were just an idiot kid worshipping two dumbasses who called everything "gay," "retarded," or, in a flourish of Voltairian wit, "gay-tarded?" Then you just quietly blocked them on all social media, so seeing them calling trans people "it" doesn't further spoil your cherished childhood memories? There's a name for that phenomenon; it's called being an adult Game Grumps fan.
If you're under a certain age, either physically or by virtue of having a Funko Pop collection, odds are the Game Grumps have spent some time in your minimize tray. Since 2013, the duo of Arin Hanson and Dan Avidan has been a cornerstone of YouTube's most popular genre, "voices you leave on in the background while doing your trig homework" -- also known as Let's Plays. And maybe it's that passive style of consumption that has kept you, a casual fan, from realizing just how often these lovable grumps were flooding your room with "heated gamer moment" humor like so much white supremacist noise.
For two dudes mostly known for grumbling through Super Mario Sunshine, the Game Grumps have been embroiled in enough internet controversies to sink a dozen mediocre YouTube channels. Two entire Reddit thread's worth of controversies. Over their illustrious careers as virtual dorm roommates, Arin, Dan, (Arin's wife) Suzy, and (their editor) Ben have managed to score the full bingo card of YouTuber accusations. These range from accidentally showing their (rape heavy) porn browser history, sexualizing underaged influencers, producing intentionally seizure-inducing content, and scamming fans on Etsy to some minor gamer faux pas like dropping enough slurs, racist accents, and rape jokes. Enough to merit their own classic Game Grump Compilations.
So how are the Game Grumps still generally perceived as the harmless Statler and Waldorf of YouTube? With the ridiculous amount of content that they put out, most casual fans stick to their highlight videos -- which don't tend to feature the moments that Arin is shouting racial epithets over a boring bit of Animal Crossing. They also have a reputation for aggressively ignoring and scrubbing their problematic past content and letting their detractors be intimidated by the "Lovelies," the hardcore GG fanbase who are sex-cult levels of protective of their aging shock jocks.
And all of that hubbub doesn't even include all of the unverifiable GG scandals and fan backlashes, a list so long you could sing it to the tune of "We Didn't Start The Fire." (There's also no time to get into the controversies of former GG contributors like Jon "Jontron" Jafari because the heat death of the universe is just around the corner). Still, it must be said that in the past years, the Game Grumps have addressed several of these issues, promised to do better, and are seemingly keeping their end of the barg-- aaaaaaand Dan has just been accused of soliciting barely legal groupies for sex. Oh well, I'm sure it'll blow over.
The Wisecracking Goalie From The Mighty Ducks Is A (Recovering) Meth Addict
Shaun Weiss has one of the rarest talents in the world. He can play a comic relief character in a kid's movie that doesn't make you want to truffle shuffle them off a cliff. The Mighty Ducks director realized likewise after seeing 13-year-old Weiss take his slapshot at fame when auditioning for the movie. His tryout went so well they rewrote his one-line character into Greg Goldberg, everyone's favorite chubby Jewish hockey goalie.
But after soaring as a Duck, Weiss's career was dead in the water. His adult acting credits include such iconic performances as Delivery Guy, Store Clerk, and Bus Driver -- which at least allowed him to pretend he was doing method research during his day jobs. When he tried his hand at being a stand-up comedian, the biggest break he ever got was appearing on a comedy tour hosted by pornstar/goatman Ron Jeremy.
But after soaring as a Duck, Weiss’s career was dead in the water. His adult acting credits include such iconic performances as Delivery Guy, Store Clerk, and Bus Driver -- which at least allowed him to pretend he was doing method research during his day jobs. When he tried his hand at being a stand-up comedian, the biggest break he ever got was appearing on a comedy tour hosted by pornstar/goatman Ron Jeremy.
Old Mighty Ducks fans started to accept that Greg Goldberg was gone. Literally, Weiss had lost so much weight he looked less like a pee-wee hockey hero and more like a Donner Party survivor. But his secret for shedding the pounds wasn't paleo or CrossFit; it was doing an inhuman amount of meth to cope with psychological issues, diabetes, and the death of his father. Starting in 2017, he was arrested and jailed several times, first for stealing $ 150's worth of items at Fry's Electronics then for swiping $200 worth of sundries at Rite Aid. But all the flip phone chargers and off-brand Pepto-Bismol in the world couldn't have saved him from his downward spiral. By 2018 Weiss had wound up on the streets where he couldn't stop other homeless folks from getting past him and scoring his remaining stuff.
But it wouldn't be a Mighty Ducks story without a turnaround in the finale quarter (which, in this case, refers to the number of teeth Weiss had left). In 2019, the Wayne Gretzky of snorting crystal finally caught a lucky break while breaking into a car. Its owner caught Weiss tweaked out of his mind and waving a hammer. But instead of putting a bullet in the welterweight meth head ("I got a gun, but I didn't feel threatened," he later said), he called the police and had Weiss jailed on aggravated charges.
Here's the weird happy ending twist: the man who got Weiss arrested is a drug counselor. Not just any drug counselor -- the drug counselor in the very jail Weiss got sent to. Through him, the rapidly decomposing actor finally got the help he needed. Weiss managed to turn his life around in a spectacular fashion. As of writing this, the actor has been skating through sobriety for over a year, once again able to crack wise and look like someone who could stop a puck without breaking every bone in his body. Sadly, despite this on-brand rise and fall and rise again, the Mighty Duck remains uninvited from the televised cast reunion planned in 2021, something a humbled Weiss regrets but understands. He has even joked that if they ever make a Mighty Ducks reboot, they'll probably "recast Goldberg with Jim Belushi" -- though Weiss took more after his brother John.
For more tangents that take unexpected dark turns, do follow Cedric on Twitter.
Top Image: Walt Disney Pictures