The Biggest and Most Cringe-Worthy Celebrity Scandals of 2017

These are the biggest celebrity PR disasters of 2017.

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Hair, Face, Hairstyle, Eyebrow, Chin, Nose, Forehead, Beauty, Cheek, Skin,
(Image credit: Getty/Twitter)

Despite having PR reps whose entire job revolve around making sure this never happens, celebrities sometimes say/do the wrong thing. In fact, name any celebrity and chances they've been labeled a "problematic fave" at one point or another. Here's who's messed up in 2017.

1. Celebs Caught Smoking in the Bathroom

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At this year's annual Met Gala, celebrities like Bella Hadid, Dakota Jonson, Rami Malek, Marc Jacobs, and Courtney Love were caught—via social media—smoking cigarettes in the bathroom. Smoking indoors, especially at a bar or cafe, was deemed illegal in New York City, per the 2003 Smoke Free Air Act. The pictures outraged both museum donors and the New York City health department. Dr. Mary Bassett, New York City’s health commissioner, wrote a letter to executives at the MET, that said, "We were dismayed to read reports that some celebrities chose smoking as their fashion accessory and flagrantly violated New York City’s smoking laws. All visitors to public places deserve protection from secondhand smoke, including people who are visiting places like The Met."

2. Kim Kardashian's Aalyiah Costume

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(Image credit: Kim Kardashian West Twitter)

Kim Kardashian donned several Halloween costumes this year, including Cher and Madonna. Then she dressed as famous singer, Aaliyah, and people were furious. They took to Twitter to express their problems with Kardashian portraying a woman of color, saying that she shouldn't push the limit. Others merely thought she was paying homage to some of her favorite icons, including Aaliyah, pointing out that she did nothing offense in regards of how she dressed.

3. Gigi Hadid Drops Out of Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

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Gigi Hadid received tons of backlash earlier this year, when her younger sister Bella Hadid posted a video to Twitter where Gigi appeared to be mocking Asian features. Hadid has since issued an apology on China's social media platforms. But when it came time for the Shanghai Victoria's Secret Fashion show, she dropped out. There was speculation around the idea that she wasn't able to get her passport in time. However, a hashtag #GigiGetOutOfChina, had quickly been going around prior to the model's drop out. We're still left to wonder if the hashtag had any influence on Hadid's ability to walk in the show, or not.

4. Meghan Markle's 'Suits' Co-Star, Patrick Adams Deletes His Instagram

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Patrick J. Adams, who plays Meghan Markle's love interest on the show Suits, posted a photo of Markle playfully kissing him on the cheek. The photo caption read, "Ross and Rachel - the next generation." The Internet went crazy, causing Adams to delete his Instagram account all together. “It was such an innocent moment of sentimentality that was twisted into something totally different. It made me feel like… why put myself through this?” he said. “We’re like brother and sister, it’s not like it was lurid or anything, but it just became a story that people wanted to talk about.” Things have lightened up since the incident. Adams is back on Instagram, and after Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement, he posted a funny tweet about the two.

5. Kim Kardashian's Blackface Accusations 

Kim Kardashian's Blackface Accusations

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Kim Kardashian's contour kits may have sold out in mere minutes, but the brand was barely off the ground before being embroiled in a controversy thanks to Kim's team darkening her skin tone in promotional images. She was accused of blackface, and ended up changing the images and making a statement to the New York Times: "I would obviously never want to offend anyone. I used an amazing photographer and a team of people. I was really tan when we shot the images, and it might be that the contrast was off. But I showed the image to many people, to many in the business. No one brought that to our attention. No one mentioned it. Of course, I have the utmost respect for why people might feel the way they did. But we made the necessary changes to that photo and the rest of the photos. We saw the problem, and we adapted and changed right away. Definitely I have learned from it."

6. Kylie Jenner's Cultural Appropriation 

Kylie Jenner released a debut line of camo bikinis this Spring, and was accused of ripping off the pieces from independent designer Tizita Balemlay's brand Plugged NYC. What's more, Balemlay had proof that Kylie had purchased her clothing before, which means she was familiar with her work. The incident lead to widespread accusations of cultural appropriation, but Kylie opted not to comment on the matter.

7. Chris Pratt's Off-Base Blue Collar America Comments

Chris Pratt's Off-Base Blue Collar America Comments

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Chris Pratt ruffled feathers during an interview where he voiced concern about state of blue collar American representation in Hollywood—apparently forgetting for a moment that many, many, many films have been made about the average white man. "I don't see personal stories that necessarily resonate with me, because they're not my stories," Pratt told Men's Fitness. "I think there's room for me to tell mine, and probably an audience that would be hungry for them. The voice of the average, blue-collar American isn't necessarily represented in Hollywood." Pratt later offered a mea culpa via Twitter, writing "That was actually a pretty stupid thing to say. I'll own that. There's a ton of movies about blue collar America."

8. Elizabeth Banks' Dismissal of 'The Color Purple'

Elizabeth Banks' Dismissal of 'The Color Purple'

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Elizabeth Banks made an error of judgement when she spoke at Women in Film's Crystal + Lucy Awards and chastised Steven Spielberg for not making a movie with a female lead. And while it's true that the famous director favors men in his films, he did make The Color Purple—an incredibly important film featuring black female actresses like Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Avery, and Oprah Winfrey. Banks issued the following apology on social media: "I framed my comments inaccurately. I want to be clear from the start that I take full responsibility for what I said and I'm sorry. When I made the comments, I was thinking of recent films Steven directed, it was not my intention to dismiss the import of the iconic #TheColorPurple. I made things worse by giving the impression that I was dismissing Shari Belafonte when she attempted to correct me. I spoke with Shari backstage and she was kind enough to forgive me. Those who have the privilege and honor of directing and producing films should be held to account for our mistakes, whether it's about diversity or inaccurate statements. I'm very sorry."

9. Kendall Jenner's Pepsi Commercial 

Who can forget Kendall Jenner's tone deaf Pepsi ad? AKA the biggest PR blunder of the year—minus literally everything that's happened to United Airlines. The commercial was panned for its completely ridiculous depiction of a protest, which stole visual imagery from the Black Lives Matter movement without making any type of meaningful statement whatsoever. Pepsi pulled the ad, and issued the following unapologetic statement: "This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that's an important message to convey."

10. Bill Maher's Use of the N-Word

In a truly disgusting moment, Bill Maher used the N-word during a segment with Ben Sasse on his HBO show. Essentially, Sasse invited Maher to Nebraska, saying "We'd love to have you work in the fields with us," and the host responded, "Work in the fields? Senator, I'm a house n*****." He issued a statement of apology one day later, saying "Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I'm up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn't have said on my live show. Last night was a particularly long night as I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment. The word was offensive, and I regret saying it and am very sorry." He also addressed the issue during the course of several interviews with guests on his show—including Ice Cube.

11. Johnny Depp's Assassination Joke 

Johnny Depp's Assassination Joke

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While at Glastonbury Festival, Johnny Depp made a joke about assassinating President Donald Trump, saying "When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?" Naturally, this didn't go down well, and the White House issued the following statement: "President Trump has condemned violence in all forms and its sad that others like Johnny Depp have not followed his lead. I hope that some of Mr. Depp's colleagues will speak out against this type of rhetoric as strongly as they would if this was directed towards a democrat elected official." Unsurprisingly, Depp issued an apologetic statement of his own, saying, "I apologize for the bad joke I attempted last night in poor taste about President Trump. It did not come out as intended, and I intended no malice. I was only trying to amuse, not to harm anyone."

12. Kathy Griffin's Trump Photo Shoot 

For reasons that remain a mystery, Kathy Griffin thought it would be funny (maybe?) to partake in a photo shoot in which she appeared holding a bloody Trump head. She apologized, held a pretty confusing press conference about the incident, and recently tweeted that she's under investigation by the FBI. Meanwhile, Trump had this to say: "Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!"

13. Bella Hadid's Promotion of the Fyre Festival 

Ahhhh, the Fyre Festival! This mess of millennial party was a literal pile of flaming garbage thanks to the terrible leadership of its organizers, and unfortunately Bella Hadid (and several other models/influencers) were caught in the crossfire for promoting the event. Hadid ended up apologizing for her involvement in a now-deleted tweet, saying: "Even though this was not my project whatsoever, nor was I informed about the production or process of the festival in any shape or form, I do know that it has always been out of great intent and they truly wanted all of us to have the time of our lives. I initially trusted this would be an amazing & memorable experience for all of us, which is why I agreed to do one promotion...not knowing about the disaster that was to come. I feel so sorry and badly because this is something I couldn't stand by, although of course if I would have known about the outcome, you would have all known too. I hope everyone is safe and back with their families and loved ones."

14. Orlando Bloom's Racial Slur 

Orlando Bloom's Racial Slur

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Orlando Bloom, man who once paddle boarded nude, was criticized for using the derogatory word "pikey" during a radio appearance. "I'm still a pikey from Kent, boy, I'm still a pikey from Kent," he said. "You don't want to get on the wrong side of me, boy." Listeners were not thrilled, and Bloom later apologized (ish), saying "I've come from Kent and I grew up with a lot of, like, freewheeling, cool, interesting characters like that," he said. "I certainly wasn't taking a slant at that at all. I'm very respectful." BBC also made a statement, saying: "As with any live broadcast, we take great care to ensure all guests are briefed about their language before going on air. We apologized to listeners afterwards for any offense caused."

15. Samantha Bee's "Nazi Hair" Joke

Oof. Samantha Bee landed in very hot water after unknowingly mocking cancer patient Kyle Coddington for having "Nazi hair" during her show. TBS ended up removing him from the segment after learning that Coddington's haircut was due to treatment for his stage 4 brain cancer, and Full Frontal issued the following apology: "We deeply apologize for offending @_that_kyle in our CPAC segment. We only learned of his condition today & have removed him from the piece." Coddington was less than impressed by the apology, and wrote a lengthy statement about it.

16. Chris Pratt's Comments About Sign Language

Chris Pratt inadvertently offended people on Instagram when he told fans to turn up their volume instead of reading subtitles. "When I made a video recently with subtitles, and requested that people turn up the volume and not just 'read the subtitles' it was so people wouldn't scroll past the video on mute, thus watching and digesting the information in the video," Pratt wrote in a note to fans. "HOWEVER, I realize now doing so was incredibly insensitive to the many folks out there who depend on subtitles." Gotta admit, this is a pretty decent apology.

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17. Kendall and Kylie Jenner (Again) 

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(Image credit: Instagram)

The Jenner sisters faced extreme side-eyes thanks to releasing a line of "vintage" t-shirts with their faces superimposed over musical icons like Notorious B.I.G and Metallica. After various stars and their estates spoke out (including Sharon Osbourne, who was *not* thrilled about the sisters using her husband's image), Kendall and Kylie pulled the line and issued apologies on social media: "These designs were not well thought out and we deeply apologize to anyone that has been upset and/or offended, especially to the families of the artists," they said in a statement. "We are huge fans of their music and it was not our intention to disrespect these cultural icons in [sic] anyway. The tee shirts have been pulled from retail and all images have been removed. We will use this as an opportunity to learn from these mistakes and again, we are very sorry."

Mehera Bonner
Entertainment Editor

Mehera Bonner is a celebrity and entertainment news writer who enjoys Bravo and Antiques Roadshow with equal enthusiasm. She was previously entertainment editor at Marie Claire and has covered pop culture for over a decade.