The 00s: full of stupid crap. But sometimes, when stupid crap happens, it happens for a reason. Thousands of people tried to get the brass ring of fame during the past decade, and not all of them made it. But the publicity stunts they tried to get there became legendary. In this article, I’ll list the ten dumbest things people did to try to make the papers.
10. James Frey Fakes It – When you pull one over on Oprah, you know you’re in deep trouble. James Frey’s memoir A Million Little Pieces told a gripping tale of addiction and recovery, selling millions of copies and garnering critical praise. But thanks to crusading website the Smoking Gun, Frey found his perfect little literary life smashed to pieces, as big chunks of his story were proven to be made up. Oprah had him on to defend himself, but his career hasn’t recovered.
9. MJ Dangles Blanket – Michael Jackson’s whole decade was an atrocity, but the real disaster came when he first became a father to young Prince Michael, aka Blanket. Jacko was so excited by his new spawn (which was not biologically related to him in any way, shape, or form), that he dangled him willy-nilly off of a Berlin hotel balcony, to the shock of the crowd. It’s OK, though – he still had the papoose’s face covered so people couldn’t see it.
8. The Runaway Bride Bails – Sure, everybody has second thoughts about getting married. But not everybody claims that they were kidnapped and raped by mysterious Hispanics. Jennifer Wilbanks was all set to wed John Mason in April of 2005 when she bailed out, not answering calls for five days. When she resurfaced, she spun a crazy yarn about being abducted which kicked off a media circus. When her story fell apart, she became one of the most reviled women in America. As for her beau, he quietly married a not-crazy woman a few years later.
7. Janet Jackson Shows Her Tit – It’s still a mystery whether the “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl was planned or not, but it didn’t do anybody any favors. In a duet with Jackson and Justin Timberlake, a sexually-charged dance sequence climaxed with Timberlake grabbing his partner’s bodice and ripping it open, displaying a nipple framed by a hideous piercing to everybody watching. CBS had to pay out over a half million dollars to the FCC for barely half a second of nudity.
6. Kim Kardashian’s Fake Robbery – Yes, Kim Kardashian has a great ass. Unfortunately, it’s attached to the rest f her. The celebutante and reality starlet is always starved for attention, and she’s not averse to using the cops to get it. At JFK Airport in 2007, Kim claimed to have been robbed of $50,000 worth of diamond jewelry and watches. But – but no police report was ever filed, making the whole thing seem a lot more like a stunt than a crime.
5. Aqua Teens Shut Down Boston – It seemed like a simple piece of viral marketing for Cartoon Network’s late-night Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Thirty electronic signs featuring a space alien flipping the bird were placed in a variety of high-traffic locations around Boston. However, in this post-9/11 America, we don’t take kindly to strange machinery, and the city panicked, closing bridges and calling out the bomb squad. Cartoon Network had to shell out $2 million to pay off the po-po.
4. Balloon Boy Takes Off – We were all glued to our TV sets and computers in October when young Falcon Heene, a Fort Collins, Colorado native, was reported flying above the state in an experimental balloon built by his father Richard. Tense minutes passed as we waited for the balloon to touch down and speculated as to the fate of young Falcon. And then we learned he’d been hiding in the garage the whole time, it was all a stunt to get the family on a reality TV show, and the parents were batcrap crazy. Nice work, America!
3. Ashley Todd’s Face Carving – The 2008 election had more than its share of idiotic moments, but none surpassed young Republican Ashley Todd’s vile attempt at stirring up race hatred in Pittsburgh, PA. Todd went to police with a tearful story of being attacked by young Black men for her John McCain bumper sticker. They beat her, robbed her, and carved a “B” in her cheek – for “B”arack Obama, naturally. Cops shot holes in Todd’s story, but not before some conservative scumbags latched onto the image of Obama supporters as mindless street thugs. Classy.
2. McCain Chooses Palin – Continuing on the same topic, the world was shocked when Republican candidate John McCain went with an extremely left-field choice for his Vice President – Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Presumably picked to counter Obama’s youth appeal, Palin did give the Repubs a bump in the polls – until she opened her mouth. Turns out, she wasn’t qualified to be VP of a feed store, let alone the most powerful country on Earth, and by the end of the campaign even McCain’s own staffers were disgusted by her.
1. Bush Declares Mission Accomplished – On May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush stood on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and announced that the war in Iraq was over, and we had won. Well, we’re still there, much to the dismay of our armed forces. Fully 98% of allied casualties in Iraq have come since Bush’s announcement, making it easily the stupidest publicity stunt of the year.