Pre-internet pop culture is starting to look like the Stone Ages. Back then, controversies weren't summed up by hashtags, there were no celebrity "clapbacks," and fans didn't demand apologies from stars for things they said years ago. Instead, it was a bit like the wild west, with celebs saying and doing whatever they wanted without many consequences. In fact, there's no way today's stars could get away with half of the things older celebs did.
Seriously, why wasn't Paris Hilton's hacking scandal a bigger deal? Why did no one care when Lindsay Lohan called Scarlett Johansson a "c--t"? Below, more examples of scandals that flew completely under the radar pre-Twitter.
When Christina Aguilera literally shaded the eff out of everyone.
Don't get me wrong, Christina's reputation for being a diva was known even back then. However, the depth of her shadiness was at epic levels. And no one seemed to bat an eye at it, probably because there were no trending Twitter hashtags to take her down. But back in 2003, Christina wasn't shy about letting her distaste for other pop stars be known. In an interview, when asked if she'd collaborate with Madonna, she replied, "Um, maybe Madonna 10 years ago?" In the same interview, she shaded the hell out of Madonna and Britney Spears' "Me Against the Music" video.
"It was like the same mold, like bowling pin formation dancers behind," she said. "It wasn’t nothing you haven’t seen yet. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s dope. Britney and Madonna.’ I was actually hoping for something a little more exciting, but it was what it was. It was a Paul Hunter video, and that’s that.”
And she didn't stop there, in an old Blender interview, she shaded Beyoncé and Britney (again):
“They’re desperate to come across as sweet, good little girls, but then you see them in photo shoots that are extremely sexual—tight little booty shorts, and not much else. So why do they try to be virginal in interviews?” Aguilera then held her finger to her mouth, Lolita-like, and affects a note-perfect Spears impersonation. “‘Oh, gosh, I haven’t kissed a boy in I don’t know how long!'”
Oh, and did I forget to mention the time she threw darts at a picture of Kelly Osbourne's face?
When Paris Hilton's phone was hacked.
Although everyone remembers Paris' infamous sex tape, most seem to have forgotten that a lot of other private videos and pictures were further leaked from the heiress that showed her in situations that would have ended her career today (ya know, if she still had one). When her phone was hacked in 2005, hundreds of celebrity phone numbers were leaked, resulting in stars like Lil' Jon and Ashlee Simpson having to change their numbers. And if angering half of Hollywood wasn't bad enough, a sex video involving Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst also leaked and was rumored to be tied to the hacking.
But that still wasn't all. Two years later, Paris' private information was leaked again via a website called Parisexposed.com. The owner of the site managed to obtain tons of Paris' private documents, videos, and photos by buying her old storage locker that went up for auction due to an unpaid bill. In addition to countless of videos of Paris and Nicole snorting what appeared to be cocaine, another video showed Paris using racist and homophobic slurs.
"We're like two ni--ers!" Paris laughs in the video while drunkenly dancing to hip-hop music with sister Nicky. She also screams, "F----t!" at a random guy and accuses him of trying to "f--k" her boyfriend. At the end of the video, she tries starting a fight with a random woman. "F--king hoodlum, broke wh--e b---h from Compton," she slurs. "Public school b---h!”
When these videos leaked, people were shocked, but ultimately, nothing really happened and it never reached the mainstream news cycle.
When Lindsay Lohan wrote "Scarlett is a c--t" on a bathroom stall.
This would've been huge if it happened today, but back then it was just another bullet point in Lindsay's long list of many controversies. Back in 2006, Lindsay wrote the vulgar phrase with a Sharpie on a Big Apple bathroom stall. However, Lindsay never revealed why she wrote it, and it wasn't until two years later that Scarlett responded. "I don’t really know that person [Lohan],” she said. “I only met her, like, three times.” As for the bathroom slur, Scarlett said she had no idea "what the motivation for that was."
"I remember it was something really vulgar," she continued. "I mean shockingly so, like, ‘Whoa, what, who are you?’"
Lindsay sort of addressed the incident a year later in Interview magazine. "What hurts me the most is that I work just as hard as any actress my age, like Scarlett Johansson, but I just don't get the opportunities that they get because people are so distracted by the mess I created in my life," she said.
Well, yeah, Lindsay. No one wants to work with someone with a wrap sheet. The cast of The Canyons learned that the hard way.
When Ashlee Simpson attacked Michelle Trachtenberg.
Most people remember Ashlee for her embarrassing hoedown fiasco on Saturday Night Live or her disastrous Orange Bowl performance where she was booed off stage. So maybe her previous controversies overshadowed another scandal where she drunkenly got in a fight with Michelle Trachtenberg over her then-husband, Pete Wentz.
Ashlee reportedly stared at Michelle while dancing seductively "like a stripper" on her husband as everyone awkwardly watched. "I hope you know, the whole time you were dating Pete, I was f---ing him!" Ashlee then reportedly said. Ashlee's rep, playing damage control, released a statement afterward saying that the whole thing was a "misunderstanding" and that "Ashlee has since apologized."
When Bruce Willis bought Aaron Carter $1 million worth of gifts.
Back in 2003, it was revealed that the Die Hard actor bizarrely purchased $1 million in gifts to a then-teenage Aaron. The report came from a now-deleted TODAY article that reported that the money was listed in a suit Aaron had filed against his mother. "Willis’ rep didn’t return The Scoop’s calls wanting to know what prompted Willis’ generous bouts of gift-giving," the article reported. Fans on message boards had a lot of mischievous theories for why Bruce would be paying a teenager money, but I couldn't possibly repeat them here. But you have to admit, it's weird.
When Janet Jackson said Madonna had "no class."
The many feuds between '90s pop divas were well known, but they're still surprising to me, especially because most of them were treated like mere footnotes to bigger news. For example, take this moment circa the mid-90s where Janet was asked how she felt about Madonna's music in comparison to her own. "I think what I do has class, I’ll say that," Janet said coolly in an interview. When Madonna responded, she seemed genuinely shocked and then threw a little shade of her own. "I’m mystified," she told Kurt Loder. "Yes, well, rather transparent, wouldn’t you think?”
When Destiny's Child released a "slut-shaming" song.
When it comes to Beyoncé's famous girl group, most remember all the controversy surrounding the interchangeable members who kept getting kicked out of the band. But one of their tracks, "Nasty Girl," would have set Twitter on fire if it was released today. The song is about "trashy" women who don't wear enough clothes. Here are the lyrics:
Booty all out, tongue out her mouth, cleavage from here to Mexico
She walks wit a twist, one hand on her hip, when she gets wit'cha she lets it go
Nasty put some clothes on, you look to' down
Nasty don't know why you, will not sit down
Heels on her feet, swear she's in heat, flirtin' wit every man she sees
Her pants hangin' low, she never says no, everyone knows she's easy
Nasty put some clothes on, you lookin' stank
Nasty what's your problem, you should be ashamed
Today, a song like that would be accused of being "slut-shaming," and Beyoncé and her bandmates would've ignited a Twitter firestorm that would've later inspired a zillion thinkpieces, hashtags, and an inevitable apology from the band saying they're "sorry if you were offended."
My, how times have changed.
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