In a world where you can be fired merely for expressing your political views, celebrities have never been under more pressure to keep their public image squeaky clean. And if they use their public platform in the wrong way they can end their career overnight. From reality stars and news anchors to rock stars and Hollywood actors, it pays to keep quiet on most matters, but in this day an age of social media and camera phones, celebrities slipping up and ruining their careers by speaking out and doing stupid stuff is happening more than ever.
In recognition of this fast-paced world of celebrity, we've compiled a list of 30 celebrities who found themselves in hot water for saying and doing controversial things that shocked and offended the public.
1. Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert may still be on the airwaves with his great blend of political satire and hard-hitting questions, but he lost it when a tweet to #CancelColbert backfired. For those not in the know, Colbert’s tweet was supposed to be a satirical taunt against Redskins owner Faniel Snyder's new team the Washinton Redskins Orginal Americans Foundation.
However, Colbert overstepped the mark with the now-deleted tweet, which read, "I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong-Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever."
2. Gilbert Gottfried
Comedians push boundaries all the time. Doing this is their bread and butter. It's their way of not only being provocative but of testing new material and cementing their reputation if you like. However, even by the daring comedian's standard, American comic Gilbert Gottfried overstepped the mark with an insensitive tweet that got him fired from his voice-over job as Afflac the Duck.
In the wake of the tsunami disaster in Japan, he wrote, "I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, they'll be another one floating by any minute now."
One of the most famous pop stars in the world is also prone to lapses in judgment when it comes to sharing their life online. Madonna, also known as the Queen of Pop, found herself on the end of a nasty Instagram backlash after she posted a photo of her then-13-year-old son Rocco celebrating the new year with his friends holding a gin bottle.
Madonna made matters worse when she captioned the photo, "#disnigga."
Unsurprisingly, she got a lot of hate and quickly deleted the picture.
4. Chris Brown
Where do we start with this guy?! Despite having all the talents in the world, the hitmaker squandered his career when he punched his then-girlfriend Rihanna in the face. Despite this abhorrent case of domestic abuse, Brown still enjoys success in the music industry and hasn't been blacklisted as some predicted, despite also making a series of gaffes on social media.
One of these included a crude response to the comedian Jenny Johnson's thoughts on Chris Brown's behavior towards Rihanna. In no mood to question his own mistakes, Brown ripped into Johnson online, tweeting, "I know! Being a worthless piece of sh*t can really age a person.: take them teeth out when u sucking my d**k h*e."
Stay classy, Mr Brown.
5. Ashton Kutcher
Everyone's favorite pretty faced, average actor had to apologize after he challenged the sacking of Penn State coach Joe Paterno without knowing the serious abuse allegations levied against Paterno.
The tweet read, " How do you fire Joe Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste." Ashton, do you know what the news is?!
6. Russell Crowe
In 2011, the cantankerous Australian actor Russell Crowe mad a bizarre tweet on the topic of circumcision which seemed to suggest that he not only opposed the age-old religious tradition but that he also had an issue with the name Eli.
"Many jewish friends," the tweet started. "I love my Jewish friends, I love the apples and the honey and the funny little hats but stop cutting yr babies @eliroth."
He then followed that tweet with another, argubally even more obscene tweet.
"Circumcision is barbaric and stupid. Who are you to correct nature? Is it real that GOD requires a donation of foreskin? Babies are perfect."
7. Spike Lee
The acclaimed American director has long been an advocate of racial equality and has been an outspoken critic on a series of racial injustices that have engulfed his country in recent years. However, in the case of George Zimmerman- the man who mistook the teenager Trayvon Martin as an intruder and fatally shot him- Lee made a severe error.
Thinking it would be a good idea to tweet Zimmerman's actual address, the director tweeted what he thought was the real address of George Zimmerman despite not knowing that it actually belonged to a Florida couple unconnected to the events. They later sued the director.
For those who don't know their Internet celebrities very well, PewDiePie is a Swedish vlogger who has amassed 80m subscribers on his YouTube channel, making his platform the most subscribed on the site. However, despite his overwhelming influence in many spheres of the online world, the 28-year-old, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, has found himself in a quagmire of controversies over the years.
Ranging from his use of the N-word in a gaming stream to hiring Indian workers to make a banner with the words "Death to Jews" written on the placard, the Internet star isn't everyone's cup of tea, but he remains a potent force in the online world.
And with his fandom only growing, the Swede looks likely to gain 100m subscribers before the end of 2019 despite his controversies losing him lucrative brand deals with more mainstream media companies like Disney.
9. Azealia Banks
Following a series of racist and homophobic tweets to former One Direction star Zayn Malik, Banks was fired from her headline slot at the British hip hop festival Born and Bred.
Her Twitter account was subsequently suspended following her aggressive tweets against the hitmaker, who she claimed copied her visuals for his new video Like I Would. Banks also tweeted that British stars "never have swag" and that the rap game in Britain was a "disgrace."
The rapper later retracted her comments and apologized in a Facebook post. "Words hurt. And while I may be immune to every word and be thicker skinned than most, it doesn't mean that I get to go around treating people with the same toughness that made my skin so thick.
"Because, that IS how people get thick skin... by being subjected to name calling/belittlement/abuse and it's not fair."
Zayn, who is a classy guy, never replied to the comments. His career is also ten times what Banks's is.
10. Kathy Griffin
CNN quickly ditched seasoned comedian Kathy Griffin from their New Year programme following a post she made on social media which showed a decapitated head of the much-maligned president, Donald Trump. Even the liberal CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper, who co-hosted the event with Griffin in the past, expressed his shock at her actions
Griffin also lost plenty of other jobs due to her hatred of the president. "Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself," said the president himself. "My children, especially my 11-year-old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this."
11. James Arthur
The famous British X-factor alumni went through a very public meltdown in 2013, so much so that he had to cancel his performances in November 2013. His abusive language was directed against many stars, including One Direction's Louis Tomlinson and fellow X Factor winner Matt Cardle.
He also performed a rap song that contained a homophobic slur towards the musician Micky Worthless. He also advised Worthless to shoot himself. Lovely.
Later apologizing online, he expressed that he was "deeply deeply sorry to any gay or lesbian people out there," but only a few months later Arthur was dropped by Simon Cowell from the music mogul's Syco label.
Cowell even went on record, saying, "I think James, unfortunately, has had so many issues with what he has done publicly - which is a real issue with me. Somebody should have told him to shut up and just put the records out."
12. Michelle Rodriguez
Not only has The Fast and Furious star spent time in jail (it turned into a day due to overcrowding) after being sentenced to six months in jail after failing to complete her community service and alcohol monitoring programme, she has also said some pretty controversial things in recent years.
Yes, you'd think that close encounter with custody would deter her from acting irresponsibly, but the actress has also made controversial statements regarding minorities in film roles. When asked by a TMZ hack for her opinion on the topic, she said, "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Because of this whole 'minorities in Hollywood' thing ... it's so stupid. Stop stealing all the white people's superheroes. Make up your own. You know what I'm saying?"
13. Kelly Osbourne
Despite making a statement that was intended to criticize President Trump's alleged racism against minorities, Osbourne shot herself in the foot by making a blunder of her own despite meaning to do the opposite.
"If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilets, Donald Trump?" she exclaimed, much to the amusement of Trump's legion of online followers.
14. Chrissie Hynde
The lead singer of the Pretenders has enjoyed one of the most enduring careers in rock n' roll history, but her statements regarding the recent #meetoo movement in her new memoir caused a lot of controversies. Despite most of the book chronicling Hynde's life as a rock goddess, she gave an interview in the lead up to the book's release criticizing certain female rape victims, saying,
"If I'm walking around and I'm very modestly dressed and I'm keeping to myself and someone attacks me, then I'd say that's his fault. But if I'm being very lairy and putting it about and being provocative, then you are enticing someone who's already unhinged — don't do that. Come on! That's just common sense."
The rapper is no stranger to being in trouble with the law, but the hitmaker has also made news for his controversial comments regarding women. In one clear case of misogyny, T.I. candidly expresse his concerns of their one day being a female president in a shocking radio interview.
"Not to be sexist, but I can't vote for the leader of the free world to be a woman. ... Just because, every other position that exists, I think a woman could do well. Every other position. But president? It's kind of like, I just know that women make rash decisions emotionally, and they make very permanent, cemented decisions — and then later, it's kind of like it didn't happen, or they didn't mean for it to happen… and I sure would hate to just set off a nuke. [Leaders of other nations] will not be able to negotiate the right kinds of foreign policy. The world ain't ready yet. "
Has anyone told him we're no longer living in the 1950s?
16. Tom Cruise
While there's no doubting Tom Cruise's gift as an actor, the star can often come across as intense and manic, which was perhaps illustrated best when interviewed by Oprah to promote his new movie, War of the Worlds. Seemingly undone by years of constant media attention, Cruise declared in no uncertain terms how lucky he was to be in love with Katie Holmes and proceeded to jump up and down on the sofa before awkwardly dragging her on stage. Toe-curling and tongue biting, this was the first interview that showed that Tom Cruise wasn't your average kind of movie star.
He also sparked controversy when being interviewed by Matt Lauer on the Today Show after criticizing Brooke Shield's reliance on anti-depressant medication.
17. Amanda Bynes
From starring alongside Channing Tatum to being hospitalized under a 72-hour-mental evaluation hold, Amanda Bynes fall from grace is astonishing. In a career that started on the popular Nickelodeon shows All That and The Amanda Show, Bynes successfully made the transition to films up until her arrest in 2012 for driving under the influence. Spending nights in jail cells for said offenses, it was Bynes' subsequent Twitter activity that again caught the media's attention.
Acting out of character, the former actress tweeted bizarre and disturbing things, which included a tweet to Rihanna which read, “Chris Brown beat you because you’re not pretty enough.” Another tweet suggested that her father had sexually abused her before later retracting that statement and tweeting that he had not molested her but had however implanted a microchip into her brain that made her make such a serious accusation.
In 2013, and after months of weird tweets, she was arrested again for starting a fire in someone’s driveway which eventually led to a 72-hour mental evaluation hold. Today, the actress has quit Hollywood for a career in fashion.
18. Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen's hedonistic rampage drew headlines around the world and gave the actor a loyal fanbase when he candidly confessed his love for prostitutes and cocaine in an interview he did with ABC'S 20/20. But others weren't so enamored with his 'Bi-winning' actions and instead saw it as a plea for help.
Indeed, Sheen- who was once the highest-paid actor on television- was in dire need of aid, and not for the first time in his life, checked into a treatment facility soon after the interview had aired.
19. Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber has long been seen as the brat of Hollywood but even by his standards; people couldn't quite believe what he was doing to his career when a mugshot of the star was published after being caught drag racing a yellow Lamborghini through a thoroughfare.
The arrest came after a series of controversial incidents which included spitting on his fans, throwing eggs at his neighbor's windows and even being involved in two online videos which showed the singer saying the 'N' word in a derogatory manner.
20. Mel Gibson
The Academy Award-winning director has had his fair share of problems over the years, and his insults towards people of the Jewish faith when he was arrested for driving under the influence have been words that have never fully left the star. According to the officer who pulled him over, Gibson is reported to have said Jews are responsible for all wars before making a derogatory remark about a female officer's breasts.
The What Woman Want star was also involved in a bitter feud with his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigoriev. It had later transpired that the mother of his youngest child had filed a restraining order against him after claims of domestic abuse leading Gibson, in tapes that were leaked online, to phone her up and tell her he was going to burn her house down.
21. Christian Bale
It's common knowledge that Christian Bale is one angry dude- you only have to listen to his monstrous rant secretly recorded by production staff working on one of his films to know that.
The meltdown led Christian Bale to apologize for his actions and later stressed that he wasn't used to his newfound movie-star status.
22. Ariana Grande
Before wowing the world with her One Love Manchester performance in the wake of the 2017 terrorist attack at the M.E.N. Arena shortly after she had finished playing, the petite pop star found herself in hot water when she was caught on camera licking a doughnut then putting it back in the case.
She also didn't help herself by muttering something about how bad America was.
23. David Hasselhoff
The Hoff may have been the epitome of cool back in his brawny Baywatch days, but after going off the map, it appeared his family life also suffered, as that infamous video of the drunk actor eating a cheeseburger showed.
Recording the incident was his daughter, who clearly wanted to teach her father a lesson, and so posted it online to embarrass him.
24. Billy Bush
Who could forget the 2016 election? It had everything one would want in a drama, and it reached its peak when The Washington Post published audio from a 2005 conversation between Billy Bush and Donald Trump which recorded Donald Trump admitting that he grabs women without their consent because he's a star.
The Today Show quickly showed Bush the door, whereas Mr. Trump was shortly after elected President of America. What a strange world we live in.
25. Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder has bounced back with her role in Netflix's hottest series, Stranger Things after her career took a tumble when she was caught shoplifting. Rather than confess, Ryder said she was researching for a role after being arrested in Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue in 2001.
Ryder eventually paid her fines and undertook community service, but the incident made Hollywood execs less inclined to hire her.
Jay-Z may now be a well-spoken, married father of two, but his gangster past will always remind him of where he came from. However, Jay-Z's most infamous crime wasn't selling drugs in the projects- it was actually stabbing a music producer at a party.
The hip-hop artist was angry at executive Lance "Un" Rivera because he bootlegged his record. Instead of spending time in prison, the iconic artist agreed to an out-of-court settlement to Rivera that was thought to be upwards of $1 million.
27. Vanilla Ice
The "Ice, Ice, Baby" singer failed to build on the success of his one hit song, so instead branched out with a string of ill-fated reality shows, including the disastrous The Vanilla Ice Project on DIY.
But things would get worse for the rapper. In February 2015, Ice was caught red-handed carrying stolen items from a Florida home he thought was vacant. It turns out it wasn't, and the American was charged with burglary and grand theft auto before being found guilty in a court of law. He was sentenced to 100-hours of community service.
28. Emile Hirsch
In bizarre circumstances, American actor Emile Hirsch, known for his roles in films such as 'Into the Wild' and 'Alpha Dog' was arrested and booked by Utah police after he allegedly choked Paramount Pictures executive Daniele Bernfeld at a nightclub during the Sundance Film Festival.
Hirsch would later be found guilty of the charges and was ordered to serve 15 days in county jail. Sadly for Hirsch, it appears as though he left behind his acting career when he was released.
29. Sharon Stone
In 1999, Sharon Stone infamously "bought" a Golden Globe nomination by sending gold watches to all members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
All 82 members received Coach watches (valued between $295-$395), but the HFPA soon returned all 82 due to fear of having the significance of the awards tarnished. And while Stone's publicist told the press they were sent on behalf of USA Films, sources close to Variety have always maintained it was Stone's idea. Unsurprisingly, Stone never received a nomination.
30. Lindsay Lohan
After various stints in rehab, Lohan would serve 14 days of a 90-day sentence at a Los Angeles County jail for violating her parole conditions after she drove home from a nightclub intoxicated. Describing her time behind bars, Lohan said, "As terrified as I was and as scared as I was, I finally felt like I didn’t have to answer to anyone and I didn’t have to do anything for anyone. That was the weirdest part of it.'
While we are by no means criticizing Lohan's struggles with addiction, the troubled actress already had a reputation for turning up late on set and being a diva to cast and crew members, and after years of heavy partying, Lohan threw away a career that much better actresses could only dream of.