Reddit user u/thelovewitch069420 posed the question: "Which celebrity or public figure deserves a HUGE apology?" and the comments quickly filled with devastating stories of people who were ridiculed in the media, relentlessly made fun of, and vilified unfairly. Here are the figures that people defended in the thread:
1."Brooke Shields. The over-sexualization she's endured since childhood…she deserves an apology from everyone! If you don’t know this story, google it. She posed for Playboy magazine at 10 and did a movie at 12 in which she was a sex worker. In Blue Lagoon, she was just 15 or 16, and the sex scenes had to be signed off by her parents because she was under 18. She was literally a child. IMO, it was low-key legal child pornography. The Playboy magazine pictures, to this day, still BLOW my mind. How was this even LEGAL and allowed? Super disturbing. The fact that a bunch of adults approved this and published these pictures...WTF. Basically, any female child actor before the 'Me Too' movement deserves an apology."
2."Monica Lewinsky. She was taken advantage of by a powerful man in public office who lied about having sexual relations with her. Then, she was publicly bullied by his wife and the media. Before the 'Me Too' movement, I was screaming that this was just plain wrong."
"I’m about the same age as she was when it all went down, and the thought of having one of my stupid decisions plastered all across the country, with minimal blame placed on the person who had much more power than me, is unreal. I have a lot of respect for her and how she’s handled the attention. I remember her saying in an interview that someone told her to change her name in order to try and get jobs and such, and she remarked that not a single person ever suggested Bill Clinton do the same."
3."Sinéad O'Connor. When she ripped up a picture of the Pope on SNL, she was marked 'crazy' and lost her career. She was cancelled before being cancelled was a thing. Joe Pesci even said that he wanted to 'smack her in.' Truth of the situation: She was an incredibly brave woman who used her platform to bring attention to the sexual abuse that was going on in the Catholic church. She risked her entire career to do what was right. This was also 10 years before the Boston Globe exposed the Catholic Church. She was a hero who was minimized to a 'hysterical woman.'"
4."Janet Jackson. For real. The Super Bowl nip-slip was honestly no big deal and was only made one because of how misogynistic and prudish American society is. Europe looked at us and was like, 'Yes, and?' The public body-shamed her in a way they never would a man, and they BLAMED HER. She basically went into exile and Timberlake suffered no consequences. Toxic. I don’t care if it was intentional or not. It was overblown for the reasons mentioned above (plus racism), and she was the only one who suffered from it."
5."Stella Liebeck, the lady who was burned by hot coffee at a McDonald's drive-thru. She was ripped apart by the public as being the face of frivolous lawsuits and the reason why 'Caution: contents may be hot' had to be printed on coffee cups. Turns out she suffered third degree burns and was permanently disfigured. The coffee was 180–190°F in accordance with McDonalds’ regulations at the time, which was significantly hotter than other shops’ coffee, and more than 700 people reported burns due to it between 1982 and1992. Stella Liebeck passed away in 2004, but I always regret being one of the ones who mocked her and didn't know the true story."
"She tried to get her medical bills covered and their corporate lawyers destroyed her and turned her into a laughing stock and a trope in our TV shows. She died thinking the entire world hated her, and to this day, nobody responsible has ever apologized for the horrible things they did."
6."Chadwick Boseman! People speculated about him being on drugs when he was dying of cancer."
7."Rebecca Black. She had zero musical experience and she was just 13 years old at the time. She had no reason to think the song would go viral, and she ended up absorbing some of the most vile abuse the internet could muster. She did nothing to deserve it beyond being a 13-year-old girl feeling her oats. Despite having every reason in the world to be upset, she showed maturity beyond her years and saw the funny side. Her song 'Saturday' is a pretty solid spoof. Much respect."
8."Pam Anderson is one of the loveliest humans in the world. She was taken advantage of in so many ways, sexually harassed, and turned into a sex figure. Then, as a cultural pastime, she became the butt of a joke she didn't make. Then, she just tried to leave the limelight and we couldn't let her. All she wants is the right to live her life."
"She made a tape with her HUSBAND, for private use, and had it stolen from her home. Also, Tommy Lee didn’t get half the grief for it, while he was very much a participating party. Plus, she got made fun of for being a victim of domestic violence, while the actual abuser hardly got any stick for that."
9."The Chicks. They had the same opinion that the majority of Americans do now, they just had that opinion 20 years earlier. Yes, they said it overseas. And?"
10."Vanessa Hudgens, for being shamed and forced to make a public apology when her private photographs were stolen and leaked on the internet. It wasn't enough that she had to apologize, but people thought she should have been fired from the High School Musical sequel. Disney didn't fire her, but they did release a statement saying they hoped she'd 'learned a valuable lesson.'"
11."Greg LeMond, who was the greatest US cyclist, Tour de France winner, etc. He accused Lance Armstrong of doping, which was absolutely obvious to anyone in the sport, and he got dragged through the mud and vilified for years after. He lost his business, was exiled more or less from sports broadcasting, and was branded a 'kook' right up until Lance finally admitted that he was doping and got all his wins taken away. I don't think he's ever apologized to LeMond though, not that it would have made up for all the crap he went through."
12."Lindy Chamberlain. A dingo really did eat her baby. It must have been horrifying. She went to prison and the line, 'A dingo ate my baby,' became a joke because it sounded absurd and she has an accent."
13."Marilyn Monroe. She had it pretty rough, but was glamorized. She also never posed for Playboy. Hugh Hefner bought the images and put them in it without her permission. After she died, he bought the plot next to her so he would be near her even after they both died."
14."Amy Winehouse. The woman needed serious help, not unending public ridicule."
15."I will forever defend Megan Thee Stallion. She went through unimaginable pain and mental challenges alone while the entire world called her a liar. Her attempts to protect the man who shot her were thrown in her face, the music industry treated her like a joke, she was mocked by other artists, and even when I bring this up with people, they will defend Tory Lanez and make excuses for him. I’m happy to see her thriving and making a comeback, but so many people owe her apologies."
16."Brendan Fraser! Poor man had his entire career and life ruined over trying to report sexual harassment. A wholesome human being who had everything ripped away from him at the prime of his life."
17."Courtney Love. She talked about Weinstein way before it all blew up, and she was shut out for it."
"Also for the fact that people try to blame her for Kurt Cobain's death! People villainized the hell out of her."
18."Britney Spears deserves an apology from every single person who ever shat on her for wanting out of her conservatorship."
19."Judy Garland. MGM basically bought her from her family as a preteen, and every part of her life was controlled by the studio. She was forced to take diet pills, followed everywhere 24/7, even into the bathroom, was subject to constant verbal and emotional abuse, and drugged to keep her compliant. She died young of a barbiturate overdose."
20."Jessica Simpson, for how bad the tabloids scrutinized her in the 2000s."
"That poor woman just couldn’t catch a damn break, between the John Mayer interview, the incessant booing at sporting games because she was apparently 'cursed,' and all the yo-yo dieting, it’s a wonder she made it through at all."
21."Richard Jewell, the man did everything he could possibly do to help save lives after the bombing in Olympic Park during Atlanta games. For that, he was raided by the FBI and was harassed by the press, law enforcement, and the general public."
22."Jennifer Lawrence. It wasn't right that her stolen nudes were shared to millions of people all over the world. And everyone was okay with it."
23."Courtney Stodden. They were trafficked by their mum."
"And, the fact that they were bullied publicly by Chrissy Teigen and people found it hilarious is especially distressing."
25."The internet-wide pile on towards Amber Heard during the Virginia trial is one of the worst things I’ve seen happen to a celebrity. A lot of people owe her apologies."
26."Katherine Heigl. She spoke up about absolutely bonkers 17-hour workdays on Grey's Anatomy and on sexism, like in the movie Knocked Up, in the industry in 2008, and that led to a tirade of sexist campaigns against her that got her blacklisted from Hollywood."
27.And: "Howard Dean. The guy's whole political career was destroyed for actually showing enthusiasm, while people nowadays in his field can take bribes from corrupt corporations or sexually harass colleagues and walk away with a slap on the wrist."
Are there other public figures you think deserve a major apology? Tell us in the comments.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.