- The year was filled with stories of celebrities who went viral.
- Some were for artistic achievements, like Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” music video and Donald Glover’s “This is America.”
- Others were for less flattering reasons, like Grimes’s relationship with Elon Musk and Allison Mack allegedly trying to get other celebrities to join a sex cult.
Making a splash on the red carpet just isn’t enough these days.
The true mark of celebrity success is going viral. If you can dominate the social media conversation, you know you’ve made it.
But going viral isn’t always a good thing. It could mean, as in the case of Michael B. Jordan, that everyone loves you. But it could also mean, as in the case of Allison Mack, that you’ve allegedly tried to get other celebrities to join a multi-level-marketing sex cult.
Here are 16 celebrities who achieved viral success this year – for better or worse.
Priyanka Chopra’s wedding to Nick Jonas was a lavish, multi-day affair.
Even by the standards of ultra-wealthy celebrities, Priyanka Chopra’s wedding to Nick Jonas in December was a lavish one. It lasted an entire weekend, and photos of her intricately detailed dress and massive, 75-foot veil went viral on social media. The entire event was masterfully orchestrated to captivate not only the guests, but to those following along online.
Pete Davidson’s short-lived engagement with Ariana Grande had way too many plot twists.
The head-scratching relationship itself was enough to throw Arianators in a tizzy. But her fans only became more obsessed when it generated a series of plot twists. He got two tattoos that referred to her? A $US100,000 engagement ring? Then she got a tattoo that honored his dad who died in 9/11? What did his blonde-dyed hair signify? Why did he delete his Instagram account?Did he lie about being a “Harry Potter” fan? And most important, how is Piggie Smallz?
Ariana Grande turned the relationship into a viral song.
The dalliance ended as quickly as it began. But in one way, it lived on: Grande reportedly returned the engagement ring, and then made a song about her exes.“Thank u, next” – teased with tweets and clues about mid-2000s movie references – went mega-viral, a demonstration of just how well Grande understands the pulse of her fans.
Ezra Miller’s wild red carpet style made its mark.
“Fantastic Beasts” star Ezra Miller didn’t bother with the usual tuxes and suits for “Crimes of Grindelwald” premieres this fall. Instead, he went with thoroughly avant-garde fashion statements, turning heads on the red carpet and on Twitter.
For the movie’s Paris premiere, for example, he wore a striking black puffy Montcler Pierpaolo Piccioli gown that made him look like a wintery goth version of Grimace. For the London premiere, he wore a white feathery coat and had a “Harry Potter” spell lettered on his hands. And at Comic-Con in July, he cosplayed as none other than Toadette from the “Mario” universe. Fashion!
Heidi Klum took her Halloween costume to new levels.
Every year, Heidi Klum celebrates Halloween with an intricately designed, scarily accurate costume. And every year, it goes viral.
This was the year Tekashi 6ix9ine gained popularity — and also went to jail.
Tekashi 6ix9ine – the controversial Instagram star and SoundCloud rapper whose real name is Daniel Hernandez – rose and fell in 2018. He started the year promoting his first truly successful single, “Gummo,” gaining millions of fans in the process.
He hit mainstream success with his Nicki Minaj collaboration “Fefe” this past summer – but it all came crashing down in November when federal law enforcement charged him for a number of crimes related to gang activity and illegal firearm possession. The arrest only seemed to get him more attention, though, shooting his album “Dummy Boy” to No. 2 on the Billboard 100 list.
Jake Paul got psychoanalyzed in a viral Shane Dawson YouTube documentary series.
YouTube star Jake Paul normally goes viral for pranks gone wrong or accidentally getting into feuds. But this year, he was also the subject of a six-part video series from fellow YouTuber Shane Dawson. Each entry went viral drawing attention to Paul’s mental health, the vagaries of his persona, and his relationship insecurities.
A bizarre, possibly fake Drew Barrymore interview ran in EgyptAir’s in-flight magazine.
This year, EgyptAir published a purported interview with Drew Barrymore where she apparently talked in depth about parenting, postpartum weight loss, and the achievements of women in strange, stilted language.
Excerpts from the supposed interview went viral on Twitter. Barrymore’s representatives denied an interview ever took place, while EgyptAir maintained that Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) journalist Aida Takla-O’Reilly did indeed talk to the “Charlie’s Angel’s” star. The HFPA later apologised for the article, and said portions of it “may have come from other sources.”
Soon-Yi Previn made her first public comments about her relationship with Woody Allen in years.
Soon-Yi Previn’s relationship with Woody Allen has been mostly private. Previn rarely grants interviews, and Allen doesn’t talk about it. But in September, Previn finally spoke at length about it in an interview with New York magazine.
She came to Allen’s defence amid the #MeToo movement (Allen’s son with Mia Farrow, Ronan Farrow, is one of the journalists who investigated Harvey Weinstein) and reignited the discussion around him – while also staking out her own position in the controversy.
Grimes released a new album, but all people wanted to talk about was her relationship with Elon Musk.
Tesla founder Elon Musk and art pop musician Grimes, whose real name is Claire Boucher, debuted their relationship at the Met Gala in May.
It’s a pretty unusual one, as far as celebrity relationships go. Inspired by Musk, Boucher announced she would change her name to “c,” a reference to the symbols in physics for the speed of light. She also defended Musk’s anti-union policies, a stance that embittered some of her fans.
Musk himself has had a challenging year with Tesla, to put it mildly. And the couple somehow apparently invited Azaelia Banks to their house for a weekend in August and then forgot to actually meet her there.
The two went to Burning Man together in late August and are still dating.
Cardi B didn’t know that Donald Glover and Childish Gambino are the same person.
Childish Gambino is Donald Glover’s rapper stage name. This was, until May, apparently something Cardi B didn’t know.
“It’s amazing how Donald Glover and Childish Gambino look soo much alike,” she tweeted. “I think they secretly the same person.”
Then she deleted that tweet, and instead tweeted “Wait I’m confuse now ?!”
Now you know, Cardi. Now you know.
Donald Glover’s “This is America” music video had fans poring over references.
Glover’s own return to music in May dominated social media as people scrutinised his “This is America” video for callbacks and references to the news cycle. People shared screenshots of obscure details and turned one pose into a meme.
Mark Wahlberg shared his strange daily schedule with the world.
In September, Mark Wahlberg shared his daily schedule, which strangely included waking up at 2:30 a.m. and an extended “cryotherapy chamber recovery.” It instantly turned into a meme – in part from people making fun of him, and from people impressed by his apparent productivity.
The actor later backtracked on the schedule’s details, telling Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” that he doesn’t really spend hours in a “cryotherapy” chamber.
Michael B. Jordan made several fans’ dreams come true.
“Black Panther” and “Creed II” actor Michael B. Jordan built a reputation as not just a movie star, but also someone who’s friendly with fans – in a way that often goes viral.
In March, he offered to buy a new retainer for a teen girl who snapped hers when she saw him shirtless in “Black Panther.” And while shooting “Creed II” at Temple University, he answered a student’s Instagram direct message and agreed to take a photo with her. He also hung out with a teen girl who took a cardboard cutout of him to prom, humored a woman who photoshopped herself meeting him, and admitted he’s “hooked up” with fans he’s met on social media.
Allison Mack apparently tried to recruit feminist celebrities into a cult.
“Smallville” actress Allison Mack somehow got involved with NXIVM, a multi-level marketing sex cult investigated by federal authorities. She was arrested in April on charges that involved sex trafficking and is reportedly negotiating a plea deal.
One detail that was revealed following Mack’s arrest is that she appeared to reach out to famous feminist celebrities – including Emma Watson and Kelly Clarkson – on Twitter, presumably to persuade them to join NXIVM.
Kanye West went viral for… a lot of stuff.
Kanye West has had a messy year. In 2018, he finally openly discussed his support for President Donald Trump – but distanced himself from the conservative movement and politics later on. He was also frank about his struggles with mental illness after causing controversy with remarks blaming black people for slavery. West capped off the year by using Twitter to openly air his feud with Drake, who blames him for the world knowing about his son.
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