Not every celebrity is going to be a saint (at least not all of the time) but these celebs have wracked up reputations for misbehaving. Not all bad behavior is the same, and this lot runs the gamut from controversial costumes to federal crimes. So, what do you think? Who should be called a bad role model, and who is simply misunderstood?
1. Katy Perry
Almost any time anyone turned on the radio in 2013, it seemed like the song playing was always Katy Perry’s hit “Dark Horse.” It was everywhere. Well, it turns out “Dark Horse” has a dark story behind it according to a recently concluded court case.
A California jury found Katy Perry and her fellow “Dark Horse” songwriters guilty of copyright infringement, saying that the song borrows heavily (and without permission) from Christian hip-hop artist Flame’s 2008 song “Joyful Noise.” The decision declared Flame was owed $2.8 million in damages. Once you’ve listened to the two songs, would you say there’s an undeniable similarity?
2. Naomi Campbell
No one is denying Naomi Campbell’s supermodel status, but as known as she is for her work on the runway, Campbell has become quite notorious for having a remarkably short temper. The supermodel has been accused on 11 different occasions of assault, and convicted four of those times. Not a great track record.
In her most publicized incident, Campbell apparently threw a telephone at her administrative assistant’s head, causing an injury severe enough the assistant required medical attention. Aside from five days of community service and a fine, Campbell was required to attend anger management classes. For the sake of her future administrative assistants we hope it worked.
3. Lance Armstrong
Before Lance Amrstrong sat down on one of those (pretty uncomfortable) bike seats, how many Americans would’ve said they were avid road bicycle racing fans? Not many. But after beating cancer, Lance Armstrong became the comeback king, and one of the most popular athletes around — a true role model.
Alas, it wasn’t long before he was a household name for all the wrong reasons. Armstrong emerged at the center of the biggest doping scandal the sport has ever seen. After Armstrong admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs and undergoing blood transfusions, he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Oh, and banned from professional sports for life.
4. Alex Rodriguez
To put on those pinstripes and walk out onto the field as a New York Yankee had always been his dream. Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) was well on his way to going down as one of the greatest Yankees of all time, but as is all too often the case with athletes, scandal struck.
A-Rod was suspended for the 2014 season after he was caught doping. In the aftermath, well, let’s just say A-Rod didn’t handle it very sportsmanlike. However, he came back to the sport, and currently holds the career record for grand slams with a whopping 25. Still, despite an apology, A-Rod’s reputation was never really the same.
5. Chris Brown
He wasn’t necessarily this innocent young ingenue, but Chris Brown was still an untarnished teen at the start of his career. Putting out dance floor hits every millenial remembers from their high school prom or college parties, Chris Brown only became more beloved when he coupled up with fellow popstar Rihanna.
Everyone was rooting for the two chart toppers, but a year and a half later, the couple got into a pretty brutal argument, and it ended with Rihanna covered in bruises. Overnight, Brown’s image had been hit by an irredeemable blow, and his status as a bad role model has only been doubled down on with every additional incident.
6. Kobe Bryant
We’re not looking to get into the debate over who’s the greatest ball player of all time. Be team LeBron James, or more nostalgically be team Michael Jordan. But maybe you’ll want to reconsider shouting “Kobe” every time you throw a piece of crumpled paper into the trash after you look a little more into his off-court antics.
Putting his notoriously touchy attitude around the locker room or on the bench aside, it’s his involvement in a sexual assault case that really put Bryant on the bad role models list. While the court case was eventually settled, there’s still some basketball stars with less baggage to admire.
7. Justin Bieber
Baby, baby, baby, oh, we thought you’d always be our sweet singing Canadian export, but now everyone’s wondering what happened to the well-behaved Justin Bieber we used to know. With that cherubic face and squeaky clean image, Justin Bieber was beloved by tweens the world over, but a barely adult Bieber couldn’t beat the curse of the child star.
So much fame and fortune at a young age caught up to the Biebs, who couldn’t resist but indulge in all the excess. This led to trouble with the law, including vandalism, a DUI, and most bizarrely, an incident involving a likely illegal pet monkey at a German airport.
8. Miley Cyrus
The Disney starlet gone bad is a tale as old as time at this point. We all watched down-home country girl Miley Cyrus grow up before our eyes on family-friendly Hannah Montana. But the transition from adolescence to adulthood can be tricky. At first Cyrus tried shaking off her status as a Disney darling through her music.
As Cyrus’ songs became more mature, so did her style. Then, after a series of increasingly raunchy performances, Cyrus said goodbye for good to her “good girl” days with an unforgettable performance at the 2013 VMAs, and she’s been twerking her way onto parental bad role model lists ever since.
9. Floyd Mayweather
The man has never lost a fight. Ever. When you can boast a 100% win rate, from that standpoint, it’s easy to admire Floyd Mayweather’s athleticism. Now recently retired, Mayweather’s boxing record will forever remain pristine, but his legal record leaves a lot to be desired in a role model.
It’s one thing to hit a voluntary opponent in an arena, and it’s another thing to hit women. Mayweather has been brought up on felony charges for battery domestic violence on seven different occasions over the course of thirteen years. Oh, and despite pleading guilty a couple of times in court, Mayweather still denies any wrongdoing.
10. Tiger Woods
One would think that in a sport like golf, arguably one of, if not the least violent sport, a “good guy” like Tiger Woods couldn’t get into any trouble. And many believe Woods was, and maybe still is, the greatest golfer alive. Regardless, a squeaky clean image is hard to maintain, as Woods would find out.
Golf can easily be billed as just some good honest fun. However, off the course Woods was having some less than good honest fun — and none of it was with his wife. Woods was revealed to be engaging in a series of extra-marital affairs. Who knows, maybe Woods will get a mulligan?
11. Caitlyn Jenner
It took a lot of bravery for Caitlyn Jenner to come out as transgender to the public, there’s no denying that. Jenner happily took up the post as a sort of spokesperson for the trans community, but with great power comes great responsibility. Placing yourself directly under the public’s eye you have to be quite careful, and Caitlyn wasn’t cautious enough.
It was in 2015 when, according to police reports, Caitlyn Jenner was driving at an unsafe speed down Pacific Coast Highway when her Cadillac Escalade hit another car. Causing a chain reaction of collisions, the incident ultimately resulted in the deaths of one of the drivers.
12. Gigi (and Bella) Hadid
There’s so much scrutiny when you’re a supermodel. It seems that everyone has an opinion on every model’s body, and sister supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid can certainly attest to that. Although they’re often cited for being too thin, it wasn’t body image issues that made them bad role models.
In a video posted to Bella’s Instagram, Gigi is seen jokingly squinting her eyes to mimic the face of a buddha shaped cookie. The backlash was immediate, and words like “racist” were thrown around. Gigi was banned from joining the Victoria’s Secret Angels in Shanghai for their annual fashion show. For a supermodel, it wasn’t such model behavior.
13. The Kardashians
Okay, we admit that the Kardashian/Jenner clan are clearly clever business people, with Kylie Jenner is the youngest billionaire in the world, but research polls consistently cite the sisters as bad role models. When talking about the Kardashians/Jenners, you have to ask, do they express a positive image for teenage girls?
With their makeup lines, and access to plastic surgeons, private trainers, nutritionists, stylists, and much, much more, the Kardashian/Jenner klan express a standard of beauty and body image young girls can’t come close to. But really, what’s a few lip-pumping Kylie Jenner lip challenges and painfully-tight corsets between friends?
14. Alec Baldwin
As famous as Alec Baldwin is for his acting career, the lifelong New Yorker is almost equally as known for his temper. We get it, all those tourists, the traffic, and the train delays can get under your skin. But Baldwin’s temper tantrums have gone too far from time to time.
Most memorable of Baldwin’s outbursts is the 2007 voicemail he left for his then-11-year old daughter Ireland angrily calling her a “rude, thoughtless little pig.” Or more recently, the actor punched someone in the face after an altercation over a parking spot. Maybe he should take a couple extra classes with his yoga teacher wife to find a little inner calm.
It’s hard to imagine a world in which Jay-Z isn’t by Beyonce’s side, or his music isn’t on the radio. But back in 1999, after a night out in New York City went all wrong, rapper Jay-Z was staring down a possible 15 year prison sentence.
All of the biggest rappers of the moment had gathered at the Kit Kat Klub in Manhattan, but before the sun came up someone had stabbed filmmaker Lance “Un” Rivera. By the next day Jay-Z had turned himself in to police. With a possible decade and a half behind bars in front of him, the rapper plead the charges down to three years probation.
16. Taylor Swift
Ok, this is a controversial entry, but let’s break this down a bit. No one can really fault Taylor Swift for shaming her ex-boyfriends in song, countless artists have done so too. But then there’s the drama with Kim and Kanye West.
Finding forgiveness after a years-long public feud, it seemed like Taylor Swift and Kanye West were, albeit the oddest, but nonetheless, friends. But when a he-said she-said fight over some song lyrics by West were proven to be approved by Swift through a taped phone call, Taylor’s status as a good girl came into question. Was Swift actually capable of dishonesty? No one would ever have guessed!
17. Johnny Depp
From his earliest roles in Hollywood to today, Johnny Depp has practically built his career around his “bad boy” persona. Still, despite the leather jacket, tattoos, and all those other trademark “bad boy” trappings, Depp seemed like a pretty decent guy. And then things started taking a turn.
After an incident involving the improper handling of canines traveling to Australia, Depp and his then-wife Amber Heard had to issue a public apology video to the entire country which in turn wasn’t too well-received. Then, on the heels of the homemade apology, Depp was accused of domestic violence by Heard. So perhaps Depp’s “persona” is actually quite probable.
18. Mel Gibson
Tracking the career highs and lows of Mel Gibson can be confusing. The actor/director has gone from top of the A-list to persona non grata and back again in the span of only a few years. Lately it seems like people might have forgotten what landed him on the naughty list in the first place.
Gibson was pulled over in 2006 for a DUI, and went on an expletive-filled anti Semitic tirade. That was followed by accounts of sexism, homophobic slurs, and racism, and finally a domestic abuse allegation. Looking at his resume of bad role model behavior, Gibson’s comeback in Hollywood is all the more confounding.
19. Cardi B
We love a classic rags to riches story, and for a lot of people, that’s what self-made star Cardi B represents. By now it’s pretty well-known that Cardi B got her start while stripping in a club in the Bronx, but some questionable behavior for her past life has been brought to light.
An old video of the rapper/singer resurfaced recently, and in it she is seen openly talking about drugging and then robbing her strip club customers. Cardi B didn’t deny the actions, but didn’t make one distinction – she claims they were all “conscious, willing, and aware” so do with that information what you will.
20. James Franco
We’re not wading into any allegations related to #MeToo and James Franco, but it can be confirmed that the actor/director/poet/professor/etc. (is it just us or does he add another title on to his resume every other day?) did engage in some inappropriate behavior with an underage fan back in 2014.
A then-35-year old James Franco invited a young lady he’d met at his performance of the Broadway play Of Mice And Men back to his hotel room through Instagram. The only problem? She was 17 years old. Age gaps aren’t unusual in a relationship, but both parties should at least be over 18.
21. Jenny McCarthy
Due to their widespread popularity and wide-ranging fans, celebrities often use their star power as spokespeople for movements, brands, or trends — and that’s usually a good thing. But what about controversial issues, like anti-vaccination activism? Should Jenny McCarthy get a say in whether someone should vaccinate their child?
The anti-vaccination movement is constantly courting controversy, and one of its most ardent supporters is television host Jenny McCarthy. However, McCarthy’s anti-vaccination activism goes directly against the World Health Organization. Maybe concerned parents should talk to a medical professional, instead of turning to McCarthy — or anyone in Hollywood for that matter.
22. Lori Loughlin
Can you believe Aunt Becky from Full House committed fraud? Did Lori Loughlin launder money? Well, those are the charges being laid against the actress as part of the college admission scandal, otherwise known as Operation Varsity Blues. And according to prosecutors, Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli are looking pretty guilty.
Loughlin and Giannulli have been indicted for dishonestly obtaining admission for their two daughters to UCLA. Parents will obviously go to great lengths for their children, but maybe they ought to stop short of committing a federal crime. Facing a possible 40 years in prison makes Loughlin a less than ideal role model to her daughters.
23. Jeremy Meeks
Folks in the entertainment industry seem to love telling the story of the moment they were first discovered by a casting agent, director, studio executive, etc. But Jeremy Meeks found fame from more unconventional means. Maybe Meeks’ first public nickname will help remind fans of the fashion model where he came from: Hot Felon.
While serving time for criminal offenses relating to a membership with the notorious gang the Crips, Meeks’ mugshot was uploaded online, and it immediately went viral. After his release from prison, Meeks was signed as a model, but just remember he was once known exclusively as “Hot Felon.”
24. Walt Disney
We’re not trying to ruin anyone’s childhood here. Walt Disney created a company that has brought magic and wonder to children and adults alike for generations. The man himself however, could qualify as a bad role model for his personal politics, which have been rumored to be less than congenial.
Depending on what you believe, Disney has been accused of either direct instances of anti-Semitism and racism at the worst, or of associating with anti-Semites and racists. Countless acquaintances have come to his defense, yet reports to the contrary continue to pop up. We’ll let you look at his legacy and decide for yourselves.
25. Henry Ford
As the self-made founder of Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford was a business magnate who obviously accomplished great things. Often touted as an American hero of sorts, it’s easy to see why Ford might be admired. But while he was on the right side of automotive history, he was on the wrong side of World War II.
Prior to WWII Ford was already releasing antisemitic materials through the Dearborn Interdependent, a weekly newspaper he sponsored. But as the United States started getting involved in the war, Ford doubled down on his stance as an anti-semite, siding with Nazis. Thus, Ford earned a spot on the bad role models list.
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