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2022’s Celebrity Scandals, Ranked Worst to Best: Part One

by Lucas Ritchie-Shatz



10. Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars

Coming in hot with the absolute worst and most lingering piece of drama this year, we’ve got Will Smith slapping Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars this past March. If somehow you missed it, here’s what happened: While presenting the Best Documentary Feature category, Chris Rock made an ad libbed joke referencing Jada Pinkett Smith’s buzzcut, which she adopted after being diagnosed with alopecia. Will Smith walked onstage, slapped Chris Rock, before promptly sitting down and yelling “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth!”

To start out my evaluation of this incident, I have absolutely no issue writing in print that what Will Smith did was completely reasonable. While slapping him was probably not the ideal response to the situation, it’s undeniable that publicly demeaning someone’s appearance because of a disease they suffer from is truly disgusting. Considering that to date, Chris Rock hasn’t apologized for his comment, I’d argue that as far more morally unforgivable than a slap. Further, the media’s subsequent vilification of Will Smith as violent and dangerous, as well as his decade long ban from the Oscars was an overreaction that has its roots in racist stereotypes of Black men as dangerous, animalistic predators. This type of coded rhetoric is best evidenced by Judd Apatow’s now-deleted, post-slap tweet that read, “He could have killed him. That’s pure out of control rage and violence. They’ve heard a million jokes about them in the last three decades. They are not freshmen of Hollywood and comedy. He has lost his mind.” While I hope I don’t have to elaborate on what a deranged response that is, the characterization of Smith’s actions as “pure out of control rage and violence”, whether intentional or not, points towards the storied American history of the perception of Black men as unthinkable, violent beasts. This is the type of perception that leads to the seeming omnipresence of police violence against unarmed Black men and boys. Especially when considering that Chris Rock has a history of offensive, unfunny jokes (and has complained about cancel culture to boot) it’s hard not to understand how Smith must have felt at the moment.

Illustration by Derya Taspinar, Contributor

Overall, this ranks as the worst piece of drama for me because of the abundance of barely coded racist takes it has spawned, the damage it has undoubtedly done to Smith’s family and reputation, as well as its staying power. My criteria for a good piece of celebrity drama is if the drama is fun to talk about or joke about and if discussion around the drama is not harmful towards its subject. Not only did the cultural conversation around the slap turn very sour very quickly, I doubt that the situation would have garnered much attention if it hadn’t happened during one of the most highly viewed televised events of the year, and a fairly dull year for the Oscars at that. There just isn’t much internal substance to the matter outside of the highly publicized reactions it provoked, reactions to the reactions, and on and on.

9. UK Prime Minister Speedrun Challenge

While usually I would consider politics outside of the realm of celebrity gossip, Britain’s flip-flopping from one bungled prime minister to another has reached the level of satire. While governments globally have been dealing with the COVID pandemic and its aftershocks for two years now in different ways, the former British PM, Boris Johnson, who was initially elected in 2019, chose a lax approach to the disease, hoping that added economic packages would help the country through the crisis. However, the UK’s poor response has led to a total of around 210,000 deaths as well as tens of millions more sick and the country’s economy down the drain. In January, reports began to appear that Johnson as well as other members of the British Conservative Party frequently broke COVID restrictions by attending and throwing parties while the country was under lockdown. This reasonably sparked outrage amongst the British public and other members of British governance, many of whom could not say goodbye to loved ones dying of the virus as Johnson was meanwhile flouncing the rules just to celebrate his birthday.

In a slight act of karmic retribution, though, Johnson, who had previously underplayed COVID’s severity, caught the disease and even went to the ICU before making a recovery. By summertime, Britons were fed up, the final nail in the coffin being his promotion of Chris Pincher, a lawmaker previously accused of sexual harrasment and sexual assault. While initially Johnson claimed to have no knowledge of the allegations, it was later revealed that he had referred to the lawmaker as “pincher by name, pincher by nature”. Lacking respect amongst his party members for a track record of lying and general tomfoolery, Johnson finally resigned in July. However, Johnson was just symbolic of a larger mass exodus that took place in the UK administration that month, with a total of 62 elected officials resigning as a culmination of “partygate” as well as the Chris Pincher fiasco.

However, those hoping for the return of respectability to UK governance would only be further disappointed. Liz Truss was subsequently elected to office in September as the new leader of the Conservative Party, running on promises to revive the British economy with tax cuts for wealthy citizens and corporations. However, due to inflation and rising energy costs that have come along with the ongoing war in Ukraine, this actually only drove the economy into a worse depression, crashing the value of the British pound. In another bit of unfortunate timing, Queen Elizabeth died two days after Truss’s appointment, sending monarchy-stans into an emotional depression. In response to growing doubts about Truss, the Daily Star, a British tabloid, started live streaming a head of lettuce on October 14th with the caption, “Will Liz Truss outlast this lettuce?” Hilariously, it did, with Truss resigning on October 21st after a paltry 45 days in office.

The next in line to replace Truss turned out to be her previous opponent in the race for post-Johnson leader of the Conservative Party, Rishi Sunak. His election to Prime Minister on October 25th also came after he had resigned from parliament earlier in the year for his involvement in partygate and the promotion of Chris Pincher. Sunak is Britain’s first ever Prime Minister of color, as well as the youngest in over 200 years at a sprightly 42. With a former career as a banker at Goldman Sachs and a current net worth nearly double that of King Charles equally to around 844 million dollars, Sunak seems like the Conservative party’s “centrist” wet dream, moldable into whatever the party needs to save face after a year of turmoil. This piece of drama ranks near the bottom because even though it’s funny to point and laugh at, then you remember that these wet pieces of amoral cardboard in ironed suits are actually making global policy decisions.

8. Dream’s Face Reveal

While 2022 was undoubtedly full of influencer scandals and drama, from Tiktok creators to Twitch streamers, only Minecraft youtuber Dream had his face plastered on every social media site this past October after years of keeping his likeness a secret. Dream, who has been active on Youtube since 2014 but blew up over the pandemic for his “Dream SMP” series that features a host of other Minecraft youtubers, may also be known by those older than 15 for being accused of (and later confirmed to be) cheating on his record-beating Minecraft speedrun. Before getting into his face reveal, it’s worth mentioning that other than cheating, Dream has been called out in the past for allegedly grooming fans, as well as saying the n-word and making racist jokes. For more on that though, I recommend watching Ro Ramdin’s youtube video “Dream: How Fans Handle Allegations”, because I’d like to keep this as light as I can.

Prior to the reveal, his 30 million subscribers and devoted fan community had speculated wildly as to who could be the devilishly handsome face behind that prepubescent voice. After two weeks of teaser clips showing various Dream SMP members and other random celebrities like Addison Rae reacting to seeing Dream’s face for the first time, 1.2 million fans tuned in live for the momentous reveal. Unfortunately, this dramatic build-up might have actually been to Dream’s detriment, considering trending twitter topics after the reveal such as “HE’S UGLY” and “PUT THE MASK BACK ON”. The reveal also garnered unfavorable comparisons to other popular internet punching bags LeafyIsHere and Shane Dawson. Perhaps more strange is the subsection of fans who responded to the reveal with public carnal desire, but whatever floats your boat I suppose.

As someone who has learned everything that I know about Dream against my own will, I think he looks…like a guy. He’s just fine. If anything, this situation just seems symptomatic of the wildly parasocial relationship that exists between Dream and his fanbase, which he continues to foster, I’m sure, to his own benefit. While I think that many reactions veered too far to the extreme both ways when it comes to public judgment of one’s appearance, all publicity is good publicity I guess, especially when the other main association people have of you is that you’re a cheater.

7. Ezra Miller On A Rampage

In a truly strange turn of events, Ezra Miller, the actor known for their roles in the Fantastic Beasts series as well as Perks of Being a Wallflower, got into multiple police altercations this year over the course of a few months. While in 2020 a video surfaced of them appearing to strangle a woman and throw her to the ground while at a bar in Iceland (with Miller’s representative claiming this was a response to a group of teenagers doubting the actor’s mixed-martial arts skills), Miller’s string of run-ins this year seemed to come out of the blue. It began in March after they were arrested for disorderly conduct in Hawaii after they began hurling obscenities and a fight broke out in a karaoke bar. Just three weeks later, they were picked up for second degree assault after throwing a chair at a young woman during a private get-together.

In June, a Massachusetts woman and her 12 year old child filed a restraining order against Miller, claiming they had threatened the family and exhibited inappropriate behavior in front of the child. Miller knew the family after taking an interest in the child for their “style and maturity level”, offering to send the child to design school and help them create a clothing line, apparently considering them to be a “mystical being”. Supposedly, Miller showed up unannounced in a bulletproof vest while brandishing a gun and touching the child’s hips. Another incident involved Miller showing up dressed as a cowboy and offering to buy the child horses.

That wasn’t even the only restraining order filed against Miller in June, as he was also accused of intimidating 18-year old Standing Rock activist Tokata Iron Eyes. Apparently they began a relationship together in 2016, when Miller was 23 and Iron Eyes was 12, with Miller flying the child out to visit them on set in England. Iron Eyes’s parents also alleged that the actor had groomed and abused her, though Iron Eyes continues to support Miller and deny the allegations. Just further adding to how wild this situation is, apparently Miller stated that they believe people are against their relationship with Iron Eyes because she is “an apocalyptic Native American spider goddess" who, along with Miller as Jesus Christ, will bring about an indigenous revolution.

If this all wasn’t enough, supposedly Miller was living with a Hawaiian woman and her three young children on a Vermont farm, with easily accessible guns and ammo on the property. While the mother claims that Miller is offering refuge for the family from the children’s abusive father, other concerns such as heavy marijuana use in front of the children and even assault rifles next to their toys led to police investigation. However, when they showed up to the farm repeatedly, the family was not present, with Miller saying they had not lived on the farm for at least two months.

In August, Miller was also picked up in Vermont for felony burglary of alcohol bottles from a private residence. This appeared to end Miller’s border-crossing crime streak, as a week later it was announced they were beginning mental health treatment in response to continuing paranoid delusions. I’m not sure what there is to add on my part other than remarking on how sheerly impressive it is to manage to commit so many strange and varied crimes in so many places in such a short timespan. I hope that these children get some therapy out of all of this because… oh boy!

6. Machine Gun Kelly Gets Engaged To Megan Fox

Rounding out the bottom half of the list is the culmination of a trainwreck relationship the world can’t help but look at. Machine Gun Kelly, “rapper” slash musician and illustrious actress Megan Fox began dating in 2020 after meeting on the set of Midnight in the Switchgrass, but finally got engaged this January. While the relationship seems to be fairly stable, the drama has primarily come out of the details shared with the press, such as their infamous meeting story, where Fox approached Kelly to say, “You smell like weed”, to which he replied, “I *am* weed.” Other choice moments include Kelly saying he believes “Megan has the most beautiful feet that exist”, the pair showing up to a red carpet physically chained together, as well as Kelly revealing he wears a necklace with Fox’s blood inside. There was also Fox saying it was important to ask Kelly whether or not he was breastfed as a child before they began dating, a photo captioned “Kill me or get me pregnant. Those are the only two options”, and of course, the pair revealing they’ve drunk each others’ blood.

One moment that especially caused a stir was the reveal of Fox’s engagement ring, which was specifically designed with thorns inside that would hurt if she tried to take it off. While much has been said about this being manipulative, it does seem like it was consensual. Though I don’t understand why Megan Fox, contender for most beautiful human alive, is so deeply in love with a man who looks like the physical embodiment of a menthol Juul pod, the heart wants what it wants. As much as the two are hated, they do genuinely seem to make each other happy, far be it from me to shame them. However, they definitely still do have the energy of the two emo kids from your high school who are physically incapable of not oversharing about their relationship, but if they’re having fun sharing and we’re having fun listening, in my opinion, it’s a win-win.

Top 5 celebrity scandals of 2022 to be revealed at a later date…

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