Top 10 Biggest Celebrity Scandals of 2021

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Top 10 Biggest Celebrity Scandals of 2021

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
These celebrity scandals dominated the news in the past year. For this list, we'll be looking at the biggest controversies involving famous figures in 2021. Our countdown includes Drake Bell Child Endangerment Charges, Scarlett Johansson vs. Disney, #FreeBritney, and more!
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Top 10 Celebrity Scandals of 2021


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Celebrity Scandals of 2021

For this list, we’ll be looking at the biggest controversies involving famous figures in 2021

What celebrity scandal stood out to you the most? Let us know in the comments

#10: Hilaria Baldwin’s Heritage

There’s plenty of footage of Hilaria Baldwin speaking with a Spanish-inflected accent. But there are also times when she has an American one. While Hilaria, born Hillary, never explicitly claimed to be Spanish, many people felt she presented herself as such. Her agency even listed her birthplace as Mallorca, when it was actually Boston. The inconsistencies led the press to investigate and to accusations of cultural appropriation. Baldwin’s actual ties to Spain are seemingly limited to visiting and her parents moving there in 2011. Baldwin responded by saying she had been raised in two cultures, American and Spanish, and apologized for not being clearer.

#9: Drake Bell Child Endangerment Charges

Those with fond memories of watching “Drake & Josh” as kids had to deal with some upsetting news when star Drake Bell was arrested. The charges? Child endangerment and “disseminating matter harmful to juveniles." This included alleged inappropriate involvement with a 15-year-old in 2017, while Bell was 31-years-old. After pleading guilty, Bell received a sentence of two years probation and 200 hours of community service. He's also restricted from contacting his victim whatsoever. This story, like many before it, is a chilling reminder that the likable figures actors play on screen don’t always align with reality.

#8: Gina Carano’s Firing

It seems like every year, at least one celebrity tarnishes their reputation on social media. Actress and former MMA fighter Gina Carano has courted controversy several times, wading into issues like transgender pronouns and mask mandates. However, things escalated in February 2021, when she likened hating someone for their political views to the treatment of Jewish people in Nazi Germany. Given the context, including backlash to her previous posts, critics interpreted this “someone” as referencing Carano, and conservatives generally. Although her "Mandalorian" character, Cara Dune, was popular among viewers, her off-screen conduct was apparently too much for Lucasfilm, who blasted her posts as "abhorrent and unacceptable” and fired her from the show. Her agency dropped her as a client on the same day.

#7: Kimye Divorce

We have to admit we were a little surprised at the longevity of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s marriage, with the reality star and rap icon being married for just under seven years. Already highly publicized, their relationship received even more attention when West launched his presidential campaign in 2020. During that time, West also tweeted that he had been “trying to get divorced” and accused her family of trying to “lock [him] up.” Following their divorce for “irreconcilable differences,” Kardashian hosted “Saturday Night Live,” while West released his 10th solo album, “Donda.” In other words, they’re both still in the spotlight, even if they’re not together.

#6: Allegations Against Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson has long presented a depraved and morally dubious image, but it was mostly assumed to be an artistic persona. However, in 2021, allegations of abusive behavior by Manson towards his former partners, including from actress and former fiancée Evan Rachel Wood, started spreading. He was soon dropped by his record label, agency, and management. Manson dismissed these claims as "horrible distortions of reality," and his legal team has denied the charges put forth against him. With multiple allegations and multiple suits, this is a scandal that might continue for a number of years.

#5: Scarlett Johansson vs. Disney

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many films receiving simultaneous release in theaters and on streaming services. However, that hasn’t made everyone happy. After Marvel movie “Black Widow” was jointly released in theaters and on Disney+, star Scarlett Johannson sued Disney, claiming a breach of contract had taken place. It seems Johansson’s salary was partially based on box office revenue, which she said the streaming release would affect. Disney accused Johannson of showing a "callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” However, this conflict was settled in September, though the exact terms remain unknown.

#4: Bill Cosby Released

During the 2010s, we saw Bill Cosby’s image shift from beloved sitcom dad to convicted criminal, with him being sentenced to prison in 2018. However, Cosby made headlines again in 2021 when his conviction was overturned. It wasn't that Cosby was acquitted, but that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined his due process rights had been violated by the conviction. In 2005, the Montgomery County District Attorney had declined to press charges against Cosby in exchange for Cosby’s testimony in a civil case. However, this testimony was later used in his criminal trial, which the court took issue with. Therefore, Cosby was released. He had been sentenced to three to 10 years in prison, so it’s unclear how much longer he might’ve been incarcerated otherwise.

#3: Armie Hammer’s Messages

Previously, when Armie Hammer made headlines, it was for turns in critically acclaimed films like “The Social Network” and “Call Me By Your Name.” But in 2021, Hammer garnered attention for messages he allegedly sent various women, including ones displaying cannibalistic urges. There were also claims of abuse by Hammer from numerous women. Hammer denied the legitimacy of these messages as well as subsequent assault allegations. He was dropped by his talent agency and his publicist in light of the scandal and left upcoming acting projects. This stands as one of the most shocking celebrity scandals we’ve ever heard of.

#2: #FreeBritney

In November 2021, Britney Spears was released from her legal conservatorship, ending a years-long legal battle between the pop star and her conservators. This was also a major moment for Spears’ fans, who had been championing her through the “#FreeBritney” movement. Spears’ case gained further publicity this year with the release of the “Framing Britney Spears” documentary. In court testimony, Spears testified about the mistreatment she faced under the conservatorship, including being medicated and having an IUD implanted in her without her consent. Included in the complaints was Spears' father Jamie, who was removed as conservator in September. Later, the conservatorship ended for good, and, after 13 years, Britney Spears was finally freed.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Morgan Wallen Utters a Racial Slur
The Rising Country Star Received Significant Backlash

A-Rod Affair
MLB Star Alex Rodriguez Was Caught Up in a Scandal of Rumored Infidelity

Lil Nas X's Satan Shoes
The Rapper Stirred Controversy For Selling Modified Nikes

Sharon Osbourne Leaves "The Talk"
Osbourne Was Let Go After Shouting Down Sheryl Underwood & Allegations From Co-Workers of Racist Remarks

Chrissy Teigen’s Online Behavior
The Model Was Criticized For Cruel Tweets & Messages to Courtney Stodden & Others

#1: Megan & Harry's Oprah Interview

Following news about Britain’s royal family is like watching a real-life soap opera, and 2021 provided one of the juiciest chapters yet. In 2020, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, announced their decision to step away from the royal family and make a partial move to North America. In March 2021, CBS aired a special featuring an interview between Harry and Meghan and Oprah Winfrey. Topics addressed in this in-depth interview included mental health, racism, and their children. Reactions to the interview varied, with some expressing support for Harry and Meghan, and others staunchly defending the royal family. How do you think they’d handle this on “The Crown?”
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