Top 15 Pop-Culture Fails of 2011

Kim K's marriage debacle? Check. Chris Brown's 'GMA' tantrum? Check. What else made the list?

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    Aby Baker/Getty Images

    Tracy Morgan's Anti-Gay Rant

    Morgan has always been known for his outrageous, if not outright offensive, humor. However, his comedy pass was revoked after a Nashville, Tenn., man took to Facebook to complain after the 30 Rock star said during a comedy set that if his son turned out to be an effeminate gay man, he would stab him to death. Morgan apologized several times after being widely panned but drew more fire months later for his use of the word “retard.” Heaven be a publicist.

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    Chris Brown's 'GMA' Temper Tantrum

    During his Good Morning America interview with Robin Roberts in March, R&B singer and global spokesman for self-entitlement Brown was asked about his domestic-abuse incident with Rihanna. Breezy appeared upset on air, but the bigger story happened backstage, where staffers called security after hearing loud noises coming from his dressing room post-interview. Once they arrived, it was clear Brown had taken out his frustrations on a poor, defenseless window and chair. He was then photographed shirtless outside looking like the Incredible and Limber Hulk. Way to show you’ve evolved, Christopher.

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    MTV; Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

    Jay-Z and Kanye West's OWS Mistakes

    When you record an album that espouses the themes of luxury and excess, don’t be surprised when Occupy Wall Street, a group protesting social inequality, doesn’t exactly offer a warm welcome into the fold. This is especially true when you show up to an encampment wearing a $25,000 gold chain to meet and greet people who have been living in tents (Kanye West). Or, you know, when the clothing company you founded decides to turn that group’s politics into a commodity without sharing any of the profits (Jay-Z).

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    Home Shopping Network

    Mariah Carey HSN Appearance

    In July the endearing yet eccentric high-octave diva appeared live on the Home Shopping Network for two straight hours to shill various products. Sure, Carey mentioned some of them, but she spent more time complaining about her horrific pregnancy, explaining how it was “irking [her] to design a hoodie,” doling out several orders to the camera crew and giving audiences a glimpse into her very imaginative vocabulary. Various video clips encapsulating Carey’s hilarious appearance became viral hits, which prompted a more self-aware second appearance in November.


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    Beyoncé's Choreography Questions

    Talented as she is, Beyoncé is more of an executor than, say, an innovator. This was noted in her lauded performance at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards when she admittedly sought new-media artist and film director Kenzo Digital to help create her act after viewing a similar one by Italian singer Lorella Cuccarini. Unfortunately, Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker was not given credit, so she called out the pop sensation for ripping her choreography for Bey’s “Countdown” video. De Keersmaeker said, “I didn’t know anything about this. I’m not mad, but this is plagiarism.”

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    T.I. Goes Back to Jail

    His musical talents and noted charm notwithstanding, T.I. still has a history of behaving like that knucklehead cousin who never learns his lesson. T.I. was arrested (and not for the first time) in September 2010 on suspicion of possession of the drug Ecstasy and sentenced to 11 months in prison. When he was to be transferred to a halfway house in July of this year, he got sent back to prison instead. Why? His wife, Tiny, and VH1 producers joined him on a luxury tour bus. Now that he’s out (again), he says he’s drug-free and will stay out of trouble. One would hope.

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    Alo Ceballos/FilmMagic

    Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries' Marriage

    Kardashian lovers the world over were grief-stricken after Kim announced that her marriage to a formally unidentifiable professional basketball player was over only 72 days after the ceremony — which was made into a four-hour television special on a basic-cable network. Fret not, though, love enthusiasts: Khloé and Lamar Odom are still making it.

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    Bennett Raglin/WireImage

    Tyler Perry's Open Letter

    Color us surprised, but a man who built a media empire largely on the support of Southern Christian black women was met with a wave of criticism after he cast a person whose fame originally stems from a sex tape in his latest movie. Still, Perry defended his calculated move in an open letter, on the pretext that Kim Kardashian is a role model to young people and is the perfect vessel to help promote a flick about faith and forgiveness. Not sure what’s scarier: Tyler Perry calling Kim Kardashian a role model to young folks or the fact that it’s kind of true.

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    Bill Clark/Roll Call; FilmMagic

    NeNe Leakes and Star Jones' Beef

    One has a reputation for being a disagreeable, ornery and outspoken television personality. The other is known for the same thing, but she has a law degree to boot. When you mix those ingredients together, you get the perfect recipe for the kind of chaos on which reality television thrives. The beef between The Real Housewives of Atlanta star and former co-host of The View earlier this year helped make Celebrity Apprentice must-see TV, but some felt their cattiness only perpetuated stereotypes about women.

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    Jason Kempin/Getty Images

    Tyrese Hates Independent Women

    Actor-singer turned self-appointed self-help guru Tyrese successfully took the often-misspelled fortune cookie wisdom he dishes out on Twitter all the way to the New York Times best-seller list with How to Get Your Own Way. Much of that popularity has to do with his appeal to women. How does he reward them? By telling Necole that those “on that independent kick end up alone.” He also told ladies while “it’s a lot of homosexuality going on out here” that “there’s a lot of man’s man still left.”

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    Arnold Turner/WireImage

    T-Boz's Bankruptcy

    In 1995 TLC enlightened the world to the tricks of recording contracts when they filed for bankruptcy protection during the height of their mega-selling sophomore album CrazySexyCool‘s popularity. The trio went on to negotiate a new contract and sold millions of additional albums. However, T-Boz has yet again filed for bankruptcy and revealed that after selling 40 million albums, she only yields $1,200 per month in royalties. I bet Pebbles is still riding ’round Atlanta in her Mercedes, though, boy.

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    Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

    Tyler, the Creator's Choice of Words

    Odd Future’s star rapper has a cultlike following that has as much to do with his skill as a rapper and producer as it does with his talent as a provocateur. GLAAD and various other groups say his material reeks of “repulsive and irresponsible” lyrics. In an interview with British music mag NME, he explained how that criticism plays right into his hands: “A lot of people take stuff too seriously. So some of the time it’s actually for them, my subconscious doing it on purpose, just to piss them off.” Mission accomplished.

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    Graham Denholm/Getty Images

    Lil' Kim's Black Friday Mix-Up

    Sure, she paved the way for the very rappers she currently beefs with, but Kim led the way to her own widespread ridicule when she released the Black Friday mixtape. The set, an obvious riff on rival Nicki Minaj’s platinum debut, Pink Friday, came out at a time when mixtapes are typically given away for free as a promotional tool. If it weren’t bad enough to see a formerly top-selling rapper peddle a mixtape largely featuring other people’s productions, Kim claimed she sold 113,000 copies through PayPal in 28 hours. It didn’t take long for users to point out that such a feat is impossible given the terms of service.

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    Getty Images

    Nude Leaks Abound

    Voyeurism is alive and well in the hearts of many — including some of your favorite celebrities. Stars such as Chris Brown, Basketball Wives’ Jennifer Williams and LaLa Vasquez all made blog headlines for their unintentionally (or not) leaked body shots, but Amber Rose managed the feat of being exposed more than once in a single quarter. Amber didn’t seem thrilled about it, but at least her waxer got some publicity.

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    Jim Spellman/WireImage

    Beyoncé Fake Baby Bump Believers

    Could one of the most photographed people on Earth get away with faking a pregnancy for nine whole months? It’s an unfortunate theory held by an uncomfortable number of conspiracy theorists who have accused Beyoncé of wearing a prosthetic belly — one that folds in front of foreign journalists. After years of people telling her to have Jay-Z’s baby, she finally does, and suddenly it’s not real. Don’t be surprised if many these same people believe the lyrics to “I Believe I Can Fly” can turn you into a bird if you sing them loudly enough.


Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.