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13 Celebrities Who Had an Unlucky 2013

Posted by Scott Kearnan  December 31, 2013 05:00 PM

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Out with the old, in with the new. For some stars, 2014 can't come fast enough.

Most of us appreciate the symbolic clean slate that presents itself on New Year's Eve. We feel like we get to hit "reset" on the minor missteps of the last 12 months, from ill-advised relationships to workplace drama — or at the very least, drink enough champagne to forget about them. And stars? They're Just Like Us! Well, almost: while we experience our cruddy career downturns and sometimes say stupid, potentially inflammatory things in the privacy of our own workplace and home, their misfortunes and shameful indiscretions are writ large and broadcast widely. And we eat. It. Up. (Like any toxin-laden meal, that'll probably prove cancerous to culture someday. But in the meanwhile: Gawk Right Now at These 25 Most Cellulite-y Celebrities Bending Over Without Makeup!)

So as you prepare for the evening's festivities and delete from your iPhone everyone who wronged you this year, feel in good/horrible company by taking a quick gander at these 13 celebrities who had an unlucky 2013. Two things: yes, I'm aware that some of these folks made their own bad luck, so to speak. And lest you accuse me of dwelling on the year's negative, come back tomorrow for 14 stars who are poised to have a very good 2014.

Lady Gaga

You can count me among the seemingly modest ranks who think her November release, Artpop, is actually Gaga's best start-to-finish album. Yes, it's overproduced at times. But it succeeds because it actually aims pretty low — shooting for pretense-free, poppy ear worms — and hits. Yet that pleasant reality is at odds with Gaga's exhausting, eye roll-worthy pre-release proclamations that Artpop is some first-of-its-kind moment in the merging of pop music and high art references. ("LOL SMH," David Bowie texted Madonna.) She's since wisely backed away from her hyperbolic instincts, but it was too late. Gaga fatigue had set in; Artpop underwhelmed in sales, moving less units than new albums from Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, singers she once eclipsed. She was overshadowed by a Hannah Montana twerk-fest at the MTV VMAs, and her American Music Awards performance of "Do What U Want," a surprisingly smart send-up of the music industry's misogyny, didn't ignite water cooler chatter the way covering herself in blood did in 2009. Following pundit chatter that she's "over," this was supposed to be a year that Gaga proved them wrong. But at best, her call for "Applause" earned only polite golf claps.

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber peed in a mop bucket. (Which, if we're being honest, is probably not the weirdest place you peed in college.) He left behind a cringe-worthy message in the guestbook of the Anne Frank House Museum: "Hopefully she would have been a belieber." (Though to be fair, Frank's own stepsister found the backlash against Bieber "childish.") He lashed out at paparazzi, broke up with his girlfriend, might have spit on fans (or might have bought them hot chocolate?), had his monkey confiscated (not what it sounds like) and was caught leaving a brothel in Rio (totally what it sounds like). The bad publicity is clearly getting to The Beebs; on Christmas Eve he teased us with a tweet that he was retiring, though that was probably a last-ditch publicity stunt for his movie Believe, which opened the next day and wound up flopping. Because apparently he's not retiring anymore, say all the people who have a ve$ted intere$t in Ju$tin Bieber not retiring, so — sorry to get your hopes up, America.

Paula Deen

Depending on who you ask, Paula Deen is either an active and knowing racist, a naive byproduct of ingrained Southern racism who made mistakes but meant no harm, or a 100-percent guilt-free target of Evil Leftist Media. (#WarOnButter) But no matter where you stand, it's easy to see it was a bad year for her brand; though a discrimination lawsuit against Deen was eventually dismissed, admissions of racial epithets (and her visions of a "southern plantation-style wedding" for her brother that involved romanticized notions of slavery) resulted in the loss of her Food Network show and major endorsement deals from now-former partners like Walmart and QVC. This year... Deen was cooked. (Sorry.)

Amanda Bynes

I know, I know. It seems like just yesterday you were texting on your Razr, watching The Simple Life, and wondering how Amanda Bynes wound up the one well-adjusted young starlet in Hollywood. Then came 2013, which saw the former Nickelodeon actress achieve Twitter infamy for increasingly weird public displays: invitations to Drake to plunder her lady-parts (that's the PG-13 version), strung out bathroom selfies, and lots of angry messages calling other celebrities "ugly!" and threatening to sue paparazzi. Shameless fame-whoring? Performance art commenting on the cult of celebrity? By the time she was throwing bongs at cops and setting fires in a stranger's driveway, it was clear this was a legitimately self-destructive breakdown in progress, and Bynes found herself undergoing court-ordered psychiatric treatment. She was released earlier this month, in time for what one hopes will be a happier and healthier year ahead.

Chris Brown

Dignified gentleman Chris Brown frequently bemoans how the media refuses to move past that one teeny, tiny time in 2009 when he beat the daylights out of his then-girlfriend Rihanna. It's all because the world wants to bring him down, y'see, and nothing to do with the fact that this tiger has yet to change his stripes: as evidenced by several more altercations this year alone. In January, Brown allegedly punched Frank Ocean over a parking space. In October, Brown was arrested for felony assault outside the W Hotel in Washington, DC. And last month he was booted out of a rehab program for acting violently. Meanwhile the inexplicable conspiracy to deny him positive press coverage continues unabated. Justice for Chris!

Lance Armstrong

In January, cyclist and yellow gel bracelet titan Lance Armstrong admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he won all seven of his Tour de France titles while using performance-enhancing drugs. (But he doesn't regret it, and you're a meanie for suggesting he should.) The admission followed years of vehement denials, and seemed to lay to rest the legacy of a unique man who managed to accomplish (even if they were aided) impressive physical feats and raise massive monies for cancer research, yet still consistently come across as the type of unlikable, entitled guy who makes loud phone calls from planes because REALLY GOTTA CLOSE THIS DEAL, STEWARDESS.

Julianne Hough

The dancer-actress added a new line to her business card this year: That Girl Who Did Blackface On Halloween, Esq. The reaction to Hough's costume — she was part of a gaggle of gals going as characters from the show Orange is the New Black —was swift and negative: "WTF was she thinking?" It did open the door to some nuanced think-pieces about race and sensitivity in pop culture. (For instance: did it matter that Hough was dressed as a specific TV show character? Is that different than if she had dressed as an abstract Black Person As Imagined By White Person?) But it's unlikely the Dancing with the Stars winner intended to be a lightning rod for conversations about the wounds of racism, so she'd probably just rather her publicist hadn't decided to take October off.

The Kardashians

In the preview clip for Season 9 (!!!) of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kim describes her resilient brood of heavy mascara as being a "ride or die family." (Wait. Does that mean we get to pick?) They did hit some big bumps in the road this year: parents Bruce and Kris Jenner, guiding lights of wisdom, separated. (Kris also saw her short-lived talk show canceled.) Khloe Kardashian filed for divorce from husband Lamar Odom. Bringing a child into the world brought little public goodwill to Kim and Kanye West, voted Most Insufferable Couple by the pop culture class of 2013. (That may have hurt sales of West's critically acclaimed but commercially so-so album Yeezus.) I'd speculate the family might take all this as a cue to finally fade away quietly, but their entire existence is based on being public train wreck — so TOOT TOOT ALL ON BOARD THE E! TRAIN.

Manti Te'o

It was the story Catfish would have killed for: a star Notre Dame football player discovers that his online "girlfriend" who tragically "died from leukemia," was not "real" but the "creation" of a male "acquaintance." (Air-quotes abound.) As one of the writers who broke the story recently pointed out, there are still a lot of question marks here; the explanations Te'o has offered for not catching on to the ruse still don't add up. The only explanation: Te'o isn't who he claims to be either, and is actually the grizzled old man who runs the haunted amusement park. (He would have got away with it, if it wasn't for those meddling Deadspin kids.)

Keanu Reeves

On one hand, 2013 was good for for Keanu Reeves — because, last year, who would have imagined that we'd be talking about Keanu Reeves? On the other hand, his high-profile return to the art of the action movie blockbuster, 47 Ronin, was critically panned and on track to be one of Hollywood's biggest financial disasters this year. Insert: Sad Keanu.

Justine Sacco


Who is Justine Sacco? Why is she famous? Answer to the first: until two weeks ago, no one you would ever know. The answer to the second: because the age of social media ensures that any of us could be in the blink of a tweet. When Sacco sent the above message as she boarded a plane to South Africa, she forgot — temporarily blinded in her quest to be the quippiest, I-can't-believe-she-went-there Funny Master of Twitter Dot Com — that her message wouldn't just be seen by her 200 most intimate followers. It exists online, where things exist forever: including her newfound infamy as a former Public Relations manager (let that marinate for a moment) who once thought, Hey, Black Joke Plus AIDS Joke Equals Gonna Be a Big Hit! But it's not just overt racists who can take this as a cautionary tale. Whether you're a thirty-something shooting for guffaws on delicate ground or a teenager urging fans of a rival pop star to "KILL URSELF PLZ," remember: the thrill of a RT is fleeting. The shame of having your idiocy preserved is forever. Also, you will need a job one day. Just ask Sacco.

Reese Witherspoon

But whatever. Cruel Intentions is still my jam.

Alec Baldwin

His MSNBC talk show, Up Late, was canceled in November after Baldwin threw some anti-gay insults at a paparazzo. This came a few months after Baldwin found himself in hot water for — hey, weird! — throwing anti-gay insults at a reporter. In related news, anyone know if Duck Dynasty is hiring?

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About this blog

Scott Kearnan (@thewritestuffSK) is a Boston-based writer, editor, and communications consultant focusing on lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment. He's also a part-time smart aleck and buffalo wing connoisseur. "Media Remix" is where couch potatoes meet pop culture criticism. More »

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