While 2009 started on an optimistic note, the year probably won’t go down as one of America’s finest—what with all the wars, economic crises and political gridlock and everything. Despite all this serious business, we still found plenty of time to pay attention to the antics of celebrities big and small—a little too much attention, on occasion. Here are ten controversies that, while treated like big deals at the time, we probably won’t tell our grandchildren about.
- Oh noes! Michael Phelps smoked pot!
There were already signs Olympic hero Michael Phelps was not without his vices—that stripper he dated, for instance—but that didn’t keep people from being outraged when a photograph revealed that the swimmer not only knew what a bong was, but actually used one at a party! Despite apologizing, Phelps was suspended from swimming for three months and Kellogg dropped him as a spokesperson, not wanting their munchies to be associated with marijuana use. Phelps was back breaking records and winning medals by summer’s World Aquatic Championships—but with his drug use now a matter of public record, he’ll never grace the front of a Frosted Flakes box again.
- Oh noes! Christian Bale got mad on a movie set!
Holy tirade, Batman! Christian Bale became an Internet laughingstock after NSFW audio of the Dark Knight star tearing into cinematographer Shane Hurlbut leaked from the set of Terminator: Salvation. While friends tried to explain how distracting it is for a crew to work on lighting during a scene, webheads couldn’t keep from wedging “Ohhhhh, goooood for you!” and “F— sake, man, you’re amateur!” into every clip they could. The giggles had mostly died down by the time Public Enemies came out, but we still can’t see the guy without yelling “NO!!! NNNOOO!!!”
- Oh noes! Levi Johnston…anything!
At the end of 2008, Levi Johnston was just a teenager set to marry his babymama, coincidentally the daughter of failed Vice-Presidential nominee, Alaskan governor Sarah Palin. But once Bristol Palin dumped the cutie in March, Levi quickly took his discontent to the talk show circuit. Before you knew it, the “f—in’ redneck” had a boisterous manager, Tank, and an alias, “Ricky Hollywood.” Though he hasn’t done much other than dish on Palin, hang out with Jon Gosselin and pose for Playgirl, we can’t stop paying attention.
- Oh noes! Jessica Simpson got fat!
If Jessica Simpson could do it all over again, do you think she still would have stepped on stage in those mom jeans last January? We’re guessing “yes,” because the attention she received over her big booty distracted everyone from her flagging country career and let her focus on a clothing line for curvy ladies and an impending reality show. Sure, tabloids continued to shriek as she suffered a break-up and the death of her puppy later in the year, but whatever doesn’t kill her only makes her stronger.
- Oh noes! Al Roker tried to take down Speidi!
Al Roker doesn’t usually get to hunt big game on the Today show, being the weatherman and all, so you can’t blame the guy for using his interview with Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt to chastise them for their spoiled antics on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! (though we feel an Emmy was more in order). The pair were aghast, accusing Roker of “verbal assault.” Roker apologized and Speidi went back to smiling in public, but Spencer blew up again when their rematch interview was bumped from the show, twittering “WEATHERMAN I thought you were out of town today getting your stomache stapled again?” Someone call Jimmy Carter in to negotiate.
- Oh noes! Miley Cyrus quit Twitter!
Miley Cyrus, under the hypnotic spell of a studly co-star, did the unthinkable and deleted her oh-so-addictive Twitter in October. Fans—including father Billy Ray—pleaded in vain for the star to return, but Cyrus refused, explaining her case in blog posts and rap videos. Though we’re still dealing with the loss, Miley has softened the blow by continuing to share her deep thoughts and trashy fashion sense through other mediums.
- Oh noes! Lady Gaga might have a penis!
Though it’s hard to imagine Lady Gaga hiding anything underneath her outrageous outfits, rumors of a bulge in her panties made major waves on the Internet despite photographic evidence otherwise. When finally asked to her face if she was a he or a he-she (or perhaps some kind of asexual Madonna clone), Gaga responded, “my little vagina is very offended.” Though we never doubted her, we’d like to apologize on behalf of the Internet to her little vagina all the same.
- Oh noes! Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift!
Kanye West has always acted the fool at award shows—even mocking his antics on SNL—but the rapper finally crossed the line by interrupting America’s sweetheart, young Taylor Swift, to praise a less-than-grateful Beyonce. Stars ran to microphones and twitters to decry his lack of chivalry, with even the President (accidentally) weighing in. Despite apologizing on his blog, Kanye suffered serious blowback, with the cancellation of his tour with Lady Gaga credited to his sudden unpopularity.
- Oh noes! Jon Gosselin might date the Octomom!
Of all the silly, silly scandals surrounding Jon and Kate Gosselin this year , none could be sillier than the one concerning his alleged dating show with Nadya Suleman. Jon immediately denied such an idea was even under consideration, only to have his denial denied by the tabs, who could not let such a juicy concept go. But while Jon can’t seem to get his tubby butt off TV, nothing has ever come of this proposed pairing with the Octomom. Yet.
- Oh noes! A boy is in a balloon!
No image could better capture the absurdity of 2009 than a silver balloon, flying through the Colorado air, its every moment documented by the national media because ironically named Falcon Heene was allegedly trapped inside. Sure it’s morbid to watch a 6-year-child fly through the air at lethal heights, possibly injured and suffering a lack of oxygen inside the balloon, but important news is important news. The balloon proved to be empty, a hoax created by ambitious WifeSwap regulars seeking their own reality show. Heene’s parents got criminal charges, we got to see him puke live on the Today show, and (hopefully) everyone feels real silly.
[Heene Photo: Getty Images]