When we look back at 2020 we will rightly focus on the hundreds of thousands of lives ended and millions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the world.
But there is a second, smaller, less important group of people to consider: celebrities.
Specifically, celebrities who were canceled in 2020 due to various bad choices, bad takes, or boneheaded mistakes. These poor, well-off wretches will now rest in obscurity forever, or at least until they make a heartfelt and teary-eyed apology video on all of their social media channels.
While some of them may not seem to be affected at all, we’ll always know in our hearts that they done goofed and that their perfect public image was briefly blurred.
Now let’s look back at some of the celebrities we lost to cancellation in 2020
1. Ellen for being not nice
It was one of the most shocking revelations of 2020 when rumors began to swirl that universally well-regarded comedian and host Ellen Degeneres is, perhaps, secretly not that nice.
While such a vague accusation is difficult to prove the allegations center around producers at Ellen’s long-running show fostering a toxic work environment that the host did nothing to prevent. In a letter to her crew, Ellen took responsibility and pledged to make changes.
When celebrities attempt to empathize with mere mortals it’s often pretty cringe, but when they pretend like the problems that those mortals face aren’t actually a big deal…it’s even worse. Such was the case with Vanessa Hudgens when the actor posted a flippant video about the pandemic saying that coronavirus deaths were “terrible but, like..inevitable?” and was rightly flamed by all.
Vanessa Hudgens’ career will be dead after posting this. It’s like inevitable. 💀 pic.twitter.com/qYX2DMFjJ2
— Chris Burke (@chrisburke) March 17, 2020
Joe Exotic had quite a year in 2020. The Netflix series that centered around his outlandish lifestyle and crackpot theories, Tiger King, was a huge hit and the zoo-owner and former political candidate is currently serving a life sentence on a murky murder-for-hire charge.
As if that wasn’t enough fans got to see another unsettling side of Exotic when video surfaced of this living cartoon ranting that it wasn’t fair that rappers can say the N-word and he can’t. People were shocked. Cardi B was shocked. But the most shocking thing of all was that…anyone was shocked.
Ummm so I found this earlier today… pic.twitter.com/gd3kBsq6d0
— Terry Jane Paul (@InThierry) March 31, 2020
Ooooo heeeeiiiiillllllllll naaawwww …….Feed him to the lions 🦁 immediately 😤 https://t.co/abQhDjifDg
— iamcardib (@iamcardib) March 31, 2020
In an instance of a celebrity trying to do the right thing but bungling it horribly, Riverdale actor Lili Reinhart was taken to task for posting a message demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her home by police, but doing so…topless.
Reinhart apparently thought it would be clever to use her “sideboob” to bring attention to a worthy cause but the internet found the juxtaposition in bad taste.
The actor deleted the picture from her Instagram and apologized but it was a face-palming moment.
Jake Paul is the slightly smaller and even more useless brother of influencer Logan Paul. They’re comedians…or models…….or celebrity boxers or something.
At any rate Paul somehow managed to offend a fan base with standards as low as his when he burped out this boneheaded, low-information take about anxiety disorders.
I guess it’s true what they say about blondes.
Best known for her 2007 hit “Paper Planes” singer MIA has been out of the news for a while. She burst back into the headlines in 2020 however for a less-than-stellar reason when she revealed her simplistic and inaccurate views about vaccines.
All I wanna do is bang, bang, bang, bang…and take your Twitter password.
7. Britney Spears for claiming she ran the 100 meters faster than Usain Bolt
This one isn’t really a cancellation (Britney would have to be freed before she could be cancelled) but the singer’s outlandish claim that she ran 100 meters in 5.9 seconds was met with general amusement as it would shatter the world record of 9.58 seconds held by Usain Bolt.
Crooner Sam Smith drew the ire and rolled eyeballs of many during the pandemic when they posted a series of photos depicting an alleged emotional breakdown in quarantine.
While they later revealed (or claimed) that the photos were meant as a joke, Smith’s snaps didn’t go down well with those actually suffering during the health crisis.
Something celebrities often have to contend with is accusations of hypocrisy and that’s truer now than ever now that people can scroll back a few weeks (or days) in a famous person’s social feeds and find depictions of seemingly contradictory behavior.
So when singer Demi Lovato posted a lovey-dovey photo hugging a turkey at a farm sanctuary…and then Thanksgiving photos of her feasting on the flesh of a turkey a few months later she was suitably, well, roasted.
James Charles is a makeup influencer who tends to make headlines for very confusing makeup Youtube-related feuds that aren’t worth a single brain cell of storage space but his early 2020 controversy was more straightforward, though predictably ridiculous.
Charles took part in a trend where social media stars post “glamorous” mugshots, in his case one of a seemingly bruised, bloodied face. As regular people quickly pointed out the photos aren’t just pointless, the only thing they glamorize is the most common way a woman might get such an injury: domestic violence.
Charles relented and deleted the gross photo but not without posting a very bitchy tweet complaining about doing so.
11. J.K. Rowling for alienating her fans with her views on trans issues
Not that long ago JK Rowling was known only as the well-regarded author of the outrageously successful Harry Potter books but in recent years her critical stance on trans issues and trans rights has increasingly alienated her from her fans and the public.
In 2020 Rowling pissed off Potter fans again and, for many, became She Who Will Not Be Named by again speaking out on the topic in a way that had people questioning whether Rowling’s version of feminism includes trans people or not.
Billie Joe Armstrong is famous for being the mascara-drenched frontman of Green Day who, while they’re getting on in years, have released some excellent music.
Now it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation of musicians and Armstrong is a big fan of Billie Eilish, whom he spoke about glowingly in an interview with USA Today. The problem was that he randomly dragged Ariana Grande into the conversation by way of comparing her unfavorably to Eilish, who Armstrong considers “the real deal.”
Q: You appeared on the cover of “Rolling Stone” with Billie Eilish last year and have talked about going to her shows. How did you feel about her Grammys sweep last week?
Armstrong: It was great. I mean, I only heard about it – actually trying to watch the Grammys is pretty brutal, but I’m stoked for her and Finneas (O’Connell, her brother and producer). It’s insanely well-deserved. Their music is very real, and you can tell it all comes from them, which is what sets it apart from what other pop acts are doing. It’s not even comparable to think about what she does compared to someone like Ariana Grande. She’s the real deal.
Fans took umbrage at that because it seemed pointlessly rude. Some opined that old white men should maybe shut up for a while while others even speculated that Armstrong was trying to gin up controversy to sell his new album.
It seems they didn’t have the time to listen to him whine.