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12 Times Famous Men Were Wrongfully Blamed, Mocked, Or Mislabeled By The Media And Fans

This post contains mention of sexual assault.

Most of the time, celebs are instigators of their own drama, but sometimes, they're wrongly blamed by the media, fans, or their peers for something that's not their fault.

Here are 12 times famous men were blamed for "scandals" when they were really the victim:

1.In 2011, 17-year-old Justin Bieber was at the center of a paternity scandal when 20-year-old Mariah Yeater sued him and claimed he was the father of her three-month-old son. The story was massive, and Jimmy Fallon made a "Baby" parody poking fun at the suit.

jimmy singing, you only said this to get my cash and now selena gomez is gonna kick my ass

Mariah alleged that Justin hooked up with her backstage after a concert.

He denied her claims, telling Today, "I never met the woman. I know that I’m going to be a target, but I'm never going to be a victim. I think it's crazy because every night after the show I'm gone, right from the stage to my car, so it's crazy that some people want to make up such false allegations, but to set the record straight, none of it is true. I've never met the woman."

Here's the full video of Jimmy performing "(It's Not My) Baby":

Despite his denials, Justin still had to take a paternity test. Ricky Gervais joked about it at the Golden Globes.

ricky saying, the only way that he could've impregnated a girl was if he borrowed martha stewart's old turkey basters

The lawsuit was reportedly "quietly dismissed."

2.When Justin Bieber was on vacation in Bora Bora in 2015, the paparazzi took a nude photo of him, which went viral. When he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres show a month later, the host showed the picture on the big screen and blamed him for not spotting the photographers.

justin saying he wasn't looking out for paps

She then grilled him about the woman in the background of the picture, even after he asked her to stop.

justin saying, she's just a friend stop and ellen responding, i have friends, i've never seen them naked like that

Watch the full interview clip below:

3.In 2017, Terry Crews spoke out about his alleged sexual assault on Twitter. He later told Good Morning America, "Back in February 2016, I was assaulted by Adam Venit, who is head of the motion picture department at William Morris Endeavor, one of the biggest agencies in the world, period."

closeup of him

He continued, "He's connected to probably everyone I know in the business...I did not know this man. I have never had a conversation with him, ever."

He was criticized by Wendy Williams and mocked by 50 Cent. He also dropped out of The Expendables after a producer pressured him to drop his sexual assault lawsuit to prevent "problems" on set.

  ABC / Via youtube.com

On Twitter, Terry said, "Management got a call last week from Avi Lerner, producer of EXPENDABLES 4, saying I could avoid any 'problems' on the sequel if I dropped my case against @WME. Guess who's [Expendables star Sylvester Stallone's] agent? ADAM VENIT."

In 2017, TIME named Terry as one of its Person of the Year "Silence Breakers." In his profile, he said, "I'd actually just read a comment someone made on Twitter about one of [Harvey] Weinstein's accusers. It went something like: She's just looking for attention and a payday. It really affected me. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I remember going to my phone and I started writing. And I couldn't stop. What it became was this 16-tweet missive from me. I just remember having to say what I felt. I was really angry because these women were being discounted. These women were being discarded. Their pain was just — it was nothing. I wanted to join in. I wanted to say something. I wanted to support. But I did have to let these women know they weren't alone. And that I understood. My whole mission was to give them strength. Don't accept the shame that people are giving you. Because that's what it was. They were being shamed. They were being victimized again. I just couldn't stand for it."

4.In 2018, Brendan Fraser spoke out about being allegedly groped by then-Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk at the 2003 Golden Globes. He told GQ, "[The experience] made me retreat. It made me feel reclusive."

closeup of brendan

He continued, "[It messed with my sense of] who I was and what I was doing.. [Work] withered on the vine for me. In my mind, at least, something had been taken away from me...Am I still frightened? Absolutely. Do I feel like I need to say something? Absolutely. Have I wanted to many, many times? Absolutely. Have I stopped myself? Absolutely."

The actor speculated that he'd been "blacklisted" by the HFPA afterward. He told GQ, "I don't know if this curried disfavor with the group, with the HFPA. But the silence was deafening."

closeup of him

Berk denied the allegations, telling GQ, "His career declined through no fault of ours."

After making his major Hollywood comeback with his Oscar-winning role in 2022's The Whale, Brendan declined to return to the Golden Globes. In a new GQ profile, he said, "I have more history with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association than I have respect for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. No, I will not participate. It's because of the history that I have with them. And my mother didn't raise a hypocrite. You can call me a lot of things, but not that."

5.In 2004, Yusuf/Cat Stevens was trying to avoid media attention, but then his flight from London to Washington was diverted to Maine. He was removed from the plane by a half dozen uniformed men — seemingly because his legal name, Yusuf Islam, was similar to another person's name on a terrorism watch list. He was deported back to the UK.

closeup of cat stevens
Mehdi Fedouach / AFP FILES/AFP via Getty Images

In an opinion piece for the LA Times, he wrote, "The unbelievable thing is that only two months earlier, I had been having meetings in Washington with top officials from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to talk about my charity work. Even further back, one month after the attack on the World Trade Center, I was in New York meeting Peter Gabriel and Hillary Rodham Clinton at the World Economic Forum!"

In his LA Times article, he wrote, "It's the indiscriminate procedure of profiling that's changed. I am a victim of an unjust and arbitrary system, hastily imposed, that serves only to belittle America's image as a defender of the civil liberties that so many dearly struggled and died for over the centuries."

closeup of him
Goffredo Di Crollalanza / FilmMagic / Via Getty

He also wrote, "Ever since I embraced Islam in 1977, people have regularly tried to link me with things I have nothing to do with...I am a man of peace, and I denounce all forms of terrorism and injustice; it is simply outrageous for anyone to suggest otherwise. The fact that I have sympathy for ordinary people in the world who are suffering from occupation, tyranny, poverty, or war is human and has nothing to do with politics or terrorism. Thank God my daughter and I were relieved of our ordeal and delivered home safely."

On his official website, he said, "No reason was ever given [for why I was turned away from the US], but being asked to repeat the spelling of my name again and again, made me think it was a fairly simple mistake of identity. Rumors which circulated after made me imagine otherwise."

6.At 10, Jake Lloyd rose to fame as young Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. However, he was bullied at school and by fans and the media over the role, which led to him retiring from acting altogether.

closeup of him in the film
Lucasfilm / Via Disney+

He reportedly told The Sun, "My entire school life was really a living hell — and I had to do up to 60 interviews a day...I've learned to hate it when the cameras are pointed at me."

Additionally, he reportedly destroyed all of his Star Wars memorabilia and refused to watch the movies.

Fellow Star Wars actor Mark Hamill defended Jake in 2017, telling Vulture, "I couldn't believe some of the things they wrote about the prequels, you know. I mean really, beyond 'I didn’t like it.' I'm still angry about the way they treated Jake Lloyd. He was only 10 years old, that boy, and he did exactly what George [Lucas] wanted him to do. Believe me, I understand clunky dialog."

closeup of mark

Jake experienced mental health struggles in his adult life.

In 2020, his family released a statement that said, "He has moved closer to his family and we are all working hard to help him with this [diagnosis]. He is still a kind and caring person, and we hope to have him back to his fun and entertaining self as soon as possible. Jake will continue to make progress with the love and support you continue to show."

7.While David Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, was filming The Empire Strikes Back, he didn't have a script. He declined an interview with the Daily Mirror because he didn't "really know anything" or "know what's going on." However, the tabloid learned that Darth Vader would be killed off in the next installment from another source, then printed the spoiler as an "exclusive interview with Dave Prowse," landing him in hot water with Lucasfilm.

darth vader
Lucasfilm / Via Disney+

He told SciFiNow, "They blew their top; they thought I was the biggest shit in the world. I didn't know what was going on, I didn't have a clue, and if they even thought about it, they'd realize that there was no way that I could have known was going on."

He never found out who leaked the story, but he assumed "somebody on the set knew what was happening and was feeding it to the press."

closeup of him
Albert L. Ortega / WireImage / Via Getty

He said, "It was a very, very awkward situation – but if they asked me to do another [movie], I'd jump at it to be honest!"

8.During the early days of One Direction, Harry Styles was labeled a "womanizer," especially when he dated Xtra Factor presenter Caroline Flack, who was 32 when he was 17.

  ITV 2 / Via youtube.com

At the time, both received criticism for their age gap.

Caroline told the Independent, "I feel like I shouldn't have to worry about what I do. But it's a social thing that people aren't accepting of big age gaps. I keep thinking, 'What have I done wrong?' But I haven't done anything wrong. What's hard for me to get my head around is people saying that it's disgusting. I don't think it is. Some people tend to see the negative immediately and that's what I find strange. If two people like each other and get on, why does anyone else find a negative in it? I know it's human nature for everyone to gossip. But why say it's bad? No one's being hurt."

Harry told The Sun, "I don't want to be viewed as a womanizer or whatever. I'm not quite as I'm made out to be. I have friends who are girls, and sometimes even if I give them a lift home I'm 'dating them', or whatever."

closeup of harry

He added, "I know a lot of people are up for sitting down and going through who they have slept with. I know sometimes it might come across in the paper that I'm a bit like that, but I'm really not."

9.In 2021, screenshots of Zac Efron's brief appearance in Bill Nye's Earth Day special went viral as people speculated that he had plastic surgery. Many made fun of his appearance.

closeup of him speaking into a camera

The rumors were so widespread that his own mother called him to ask if they were true.

A year later, he addressed the speculation, telling Men's Health that he shattered his jaw after running around the house in socks, slipping, and hitting his chin on a granite fountain. Some of his facial muscles had to work harder during the healing process, which caused his jaw to look different.

  Facebook / Via Facebook: watch

He said, "If I valued what other people thought of me to the extent that they may think I do, I definitely wouldn't be able to do this work."

10.For decades, Ricky Martin was subjected to rumors about his sexuality. The media — most notably, Barbara Walters in 2000 — asked him invasive questions about it and pressured him to come out before he was ready.

barbara telling rickey that he could put a stop to the rumors by coming out

Reflecting on the interview in 2021, he told People, "When she dropped the question, I felt violated because I was just not ready to come out. I was very afraid. There's a little PTSD with that."

In 2010, Barbara admitted she regretted the interview, telling the Toronto Star, "In 2000, I pushed Ricky Martin very hard to admit if he was gay or not, and the way he refused to do it made everyone decide that he was. A lot of people say that destroyed his career, and when I think back on it now, I feel it was an inappropriate question."

  ABC / Via youtube.com

Here's the full clip from the interview:

11.While presenting the award for Best Art Direction at the 1993 Academy Awards, Richard Gere (who's one of the most high-profile activists in support of Tibet) was supposed to read a joke about famous painters from the teleprompter, but instead, he called out the Chinese government and the "horrendous, horrendous human-rights situation" in Tibet.

richard on stage

He said, "It's astonishing — one billion people watching. And I was curious about what countries this was actually going to. And it is in fact being seen in China right now. And the first thought that came to me was, I wondered if Deng Xiaoping is actually watching this right now, with his children and his grandchildren, and with the knowledge that—that—that—what a horrendous, horrendous human rights situation there is in China, not only towards their own people but to Tibet as well. And when it was this kind of…if something miraculous, really kind of movielike, could happen here, where we could all kind of send love and truth and a kind of sanity to Deng Xiaoping right now in Beijing, that he will take his troops and take the Chinese away from Tibet and allow people to live as free independent people again."

As a result, he was reportedly banned from the Oscars for 20 years.

  ABC / Via youtube.com

He returned to the Academy Awards in 2013.

He told HuffPost, "Apparently, I've been rehabilitated. It seems if you stay around long enough, they forget they've banned you."

Here's the full video from the 1993 Oscars:

12.And finally, after their parents broke up, then-teenager Macaulay Culkin and his seven siblings were dragged through a two-year custody battle, which included disputes over control of his earnings. So, he took his mom and dad to court to remove their control from his trust fund. He was called "an unmanageable spoiled brat" by "reporters who have never even seen him."

closeup of him during an interview

At the time, his agent, Emily Gerson-Saines, told Buffalo News, "Almost everything that has been written about Macaulay is a supposition or a jumped-to conclusion from afar...Macaulay is one of the nicest, warmest, best-mannered kids I have ever known."

In 2020, he told Esquire, "It's always misconstrued, that I 'emancipated' myself from my parents. I legally took my parents' names off of my trust fund and found an executor, someone who would look over my finances, just in case anyone wanted to stick their fucking pinkie in the pie. But the next thing you know, the story was that I divorced my parents."

closeup of him

He continued, "I just thought I was doing it cleanly — taking my father’s name off, taking my mom’s name off, so my opinion is unbiased. And when I did that, the whole thing kinda ended a lot faster."

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE, which routes the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search for your local center here