Warning: This post contains discussion of sexual abuse, substance abuse, and suicide.
Here's something that's happened a million times before: A public figure is suddenly despised by many, based off information or beliefs that turn out to be inaccurate, misleading, or straight-up not true. Later, we all ask ourselves: Why did we hate that person so much, anyway?
U/wild-wolf-woman recently asked the people of Reddit, "What famous person didn't deserve all the hate they got?" Hey, I learned a lot from reading these — and I bet you will, too:
1. "Antonio Salieri. Pretty chill dude. Mozart's biggest supporter. Lent him his libretista so he could write 'Figaro.' Took care of Mozart's kid after he passed away."
2. "Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis. He was a Hungarian physician and scientist, described as the 'savior of mothers.' He proposed the practice of washing hands with chlorinated lime solutions in 1847 while working in Vienna General Hospital's First Obstetrical Clinic, where doctors' wards had three times the mortality of midwives' wards. Some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and mocked him for it. In 1865, he allegedly suffered a nervous breakdown and was committed to an asylum by his colleagues. In the asylum, he was beaten by the guards. He died 14 days later from a gangrenous wound on his right hand that may have been caused by the beating. His findings earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory."
3. "The parents of Azaria Chamberlain were ridiculed and hounded by the press, and the grieving mother's statement became a pop culture reference. They were accused of murdering their child. Many years later, it was finally proven that a dingo had, in fact, eaten their baby."
4. "Natascha Kampusch. She was kidnapped on her way to school when she was 8 years old and held captive in a secret bunker for 10 years. She managed to escape, and her abuser killed himself the same day. Sadly, the public seems to hate her because she refused to talk publicly about the details of her sexual abuse."
5. "Jake Lloyd, the guy who played kid Anakin Skywalker. He was bullied so hard that it ruined all the love he had for Star Wars."
6. "Tara Reid. She did not drive drunk. She did not kill anybody with her car. She did not get arrested. She partied a lot, and her boob fell out. That’s it. Also, if memory serves, she was treated horribly by Carson Daly."
8. "I always thought it was weird how people reacted to Miley Cyrus when she became an adult. So...your problem is she's partying? In her 20s? Just because she used to be a child TV star? She was literally just being someone in their 20s (granted at a more elevated Hollywood status of visibility), and people were freaking out."
9. "Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan of Milli Vanilli. They weren't told until after they had already signed the contracts and spent an advance from the record label on new clothes and hair extensions for their promo shoots that they wouldn't be singing on the album. They couldn't afford to pay back the advance so they said they would stick with the label until they made enough money to pay them back. When the lip-sync scandal went down, they got all the blame for it."
10. "Y’all probably too young to remember when Keanu Reeves was a late-night punchline for years. In the '90s, every reference to the man was about how stupid he seemed."
11. "Rebecca Black. Got ROASTED hard at 14 years old for the song 'Friday.' Patrice Wilson was the producer and got paid by both Black’s mom and a good chunk of the proceeds, but he flew under the radar from the abuse. Granted, it’s a dumb song, but the hatred was immense for a 14-year-old kid."
12. "Honestly: Britney Spears. The way we treated her after the breakdown is downright sad. The fact that more people don't crack under the pressure she was going through baffles me; imagine your life is televised almost 24/7 and you couldn't even feel sure that you had privacy in your own home. Not even gonna get into the conservatorship. We really did her dirty. Regardless of what you think about the music, she deserved and deserves to be treated with more respect than she got."
13. "Michael Phelps. IMO, he could have denied that picture of him smoking marijuana was actually him since it was unclear. At the end of the day, he didn’t deny it and lost some serious endorsements if I remember right. Not a big deal."
14. "Sinéad O'Connor. She tried to expose the abuse from the churches and pretty much lost her career. People used her as a punching bag at the time, but nobody ever apologized to her."
15. "Stella Liebeck, the 'hot coffee' McDonald's lady. The story that I had heard and believed for years was that some woman burnt her tongue a little and sued McDonald's for not marking clearly that their coffee was hot. When the reality was that McDonald's raised the temperature of their coffee way higher than normal, it spilled on her when getting it in the drive-thru, and her burns were horrifically severe, and she needed skin grafts. She was suing for so much because it was literally how much her medical bills cost. But so many people ridiculed her and the case for years."
16. "Mama Cass Elliot. She was an absolutely beautiful and intensely powerful voice. But because she was — gasp — fat, in the 1960s and '70s, she was bullied relentlessly by the media. She died of heart failure, and a random doctor said she “could’ve died choking on a ham sandwich,” and the media just said that's how she died. If there's any reason for me to despise older generations, it’s how they treated Mama Cass."
17. "Amy Winehouse. Once 'Rehab' hit and she became the pin-up girl with the drug problem, it was all but over. The media played her out like Britney, but in reality, she was a talented musician who wrote all her own songs and brought a modern style of jazz to what was otherwise pop bullshit at the time. It didn’t help that her father and partner used her for all she was worth until the end."
18. "Alan Turing. You’re not being forced to salute the Nazi flag because of him, and the very people who’s asses he saved drove him to suicide."
Agree? Disagree? Have your own additions? See you in the comments!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.