Yesterday saw the latest flare-up in what’s apparently a nearly two-decade war between Roseanne Barr and writer Jamaica Kincaid. As Roseanne tells it, Kincaid resigned in protest when then-editor-in-chief Tina Brown invited Barr to guest-edit an issue of the New Yorker in 1996, which is why Barr now considers Kincaid a “repugnant classist.” We didn’t know the two women had even heard of each other, let alone hated each other, but it turns out plenty of famous people have beef, and not just Kanye and Taylor Swift. Here are some of the most unexpected celebrity conflicts, from authors to actors to everything in between.
Jennifer Aniston vs. Bill O’Reilly
A feather-light rom-com isn’t typically the object of conservative ire, but infamous Fox News host Bill O’Reilly deemed Jennifer Aniston’s 2010 flick The Switch ”destructive to society” for its portrayal of a woman having the nerve to try to have a baby without a husband (Aniston’s character opts for artificial insemination). How dare she, right? A few days later, the Friends star took the high road and politely explained that O’Reilly’s ideas about
pretty much everything childbearing were a wee bit outdated, declaring, ”Women are realizing it more and more, knowing that they don’t have to settle with a man just to have that child. Love is love and family is what is around you and who is in your immediate sphere.” You said it, Jen.
Kings of Leon vs. Ryan Murphy
After the rockers politely declined to have their hit “Use Somebody” covered by the cast of Murphy’s Glee, the producer wasted no time in escalating the episode from a minor incident to a full-blown feud, labeling the bandmates “self-centered assholes” and, in a particularly low blow, accusing them of “hat[ing] arts education.” Though frontman Caleb Followill simply clarified that they didn’t want to publicize the song any further, his brother Nathan opted to be more confrontational (and slightly sexist/homophobic), urging Murphy to “see a therapist, get a manicure, buy a new bra.”
Anderson Cooper vs. M.I.A.
Ever confrontational, Sri Lankan emcee M.I.A. called out Cooper this May via Twitter, where about 90% of public feuds go down these days, accusing him of calling her a terrorist. Declining to fight fire with fire, Cooper systematically disproved M.I.A.’s allegations, starting with, “I don’t even know who you are other than the lady who sang at superbowl… By the way, I defended your finger pointing at the superbowl, so check your facts. I’ve no idea what youre tweeting about,” and wrapping up with, ”You’ve gone from saying ‘I wrote’, ‘I called you,’ to saying my cnn show blog [AC360] had a link to an article. Big difference.” Looks like Cooper was the clear winner here.
Candice Bergen vs. Dan Quayle
As we all know, Bill O’Reilly isn’t the first conservative to stick his foot in his mouth regarding women’s issues, and he probably won’t be the last. In fact, the Aniston-O’Reilly dustup in 2010 bears an eerily close resemblance to Dan Quayle’s attack on Candice Bergen’s title role in the television show Murphy Brown almost two decades earlier. Quayle stated in an infamous 1992 speech that Bergen’s 40-something, divorced character was “mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.” Bergen actually admitted in 2002 that she agreed with the thrust of Quayle’s speech, but that didn’t stop her from giving him a tongue-in-cheek shout out during her Emmy acceptance speech.
Sinead O’Connor vs. Frank Sinatra
If O’Connor were American, she probably would’ve known not to mess with Jersey, but the Irish songstress went right ahead and stepped on more than a few toes by refusing to have the national anthem played before a set at the Garden State Arts Center in 1990. Among those offended was Frank Sinatra, who proclaimed he’d like to “kick her ass” at the same venue the very next night. It’s doubtful whether he could have followed through on that promise — at the time, Ol’ Blue Eyes was in his 70s — but feelings of national pride aside, it’s never cool to publicly threaten a beating. The venue took a much more cool-headed approach, simply banning O’Connor for life.
Charlton Heston vs. Ice-T
“Cop Killer,” the ultra-violent song from Ice-T’s thrash metal group Body Count, may have been gruesome, but it’s unclear why actor and pro-gun advocate Charlton Heston took so much offense that he felt the need to personally take a stand against the song and Ice-T at a Time Warner shareholders’ meeting. As he proudly bragged to an approving audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Heston showed up to read every lyric of the song to an appalled audience. Ice-T (who, interestingly, has expressed pro-gun beliefs himself) never responded to Heston’s ire, making the incident more of a rant than a full-fledged feud.
Harold Bloom vs. J.K. Rowling
Famed literary critic and Yale professor Harold Bloom took a break from analyzing Shakespeare in 2000 to deign to acknowledge the increasingly popular Harry Potter books. Attempting in vain to nip the Potter craze in the bud, Bloom said all kinds of nasty things about series author J.K. Rowling, including that her “mind is so governed by clichés and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing,” lashing out again in a 2003 column for the Boston Globe. Rowling has generally declined to respond to Bloom’s comments (except to insist that she could never write a novel as a response to critics). Then again, Rowling’s sales probably speak for themselves.
Chris Christie vs. Snooki
Some might argue that the governor of New Jersey should have better things to do than publicly argue with a reality TV star, but according to Chris Christie, it’s a matter of defending his state’s honor. In February of 2012, Christie denied Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s show, Jersey Shore, a tax break; Snooki attempted to fight back by claiming she wouldn’t vote for him, an argument Christie shut down by pointing out she actually has residency in New York. But Christie didn’t stop there, taking the opportunity to stand up against Jersey’s bad rap: “For far too long over the last decade, New Jersey was more of a punch-line on the late-night talk shows… You know, The Sopranos, Real Housewives of New Jersey. God forbid, Jersey Shore.” We’re sure Christie’s happy the series is (finally) over.
Noel Gallagher vs. Katie Holmes
The November 2011 run-in between former Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher and soon-to-be-former Mrs. Tom Cruise Katie Holmes is characterized less by its magnitude and more by the extent to which Gallagher blew the whole thing out of proportion. Walking into David Letterman’s studio after filming a segment on The Late Show, Gallagher’s friend inadvertently caught Holmes on tape. Holmes, who at that point had likely had enough of invasions of her privacy, accidental or no, asked for the tape to be deleted. Not the biggest deal in the world, but Gallagher was offended enough to post the story on his blog for the whole Internet to obsess over. Seems a little harsh, no?
Kathryn Bigelow vs. Bret Easton Ellis
The American Psycho author’s Twitter feed is a virtual hotbed of confrontations — remember that time he launched a posthumous attack on David Foster Wallace’s literary reputation? — but Bret Easton Ellis may have crossed a line when he claimed that Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow was “overrated” on account of being a “very hot woman” (she’d only be “mildly interesting” if she were a man). Ellis offered a long-winded semi-apology in the Daily Beast that was really more of a meta-reflection on his own Twitter presence, but the passionate response on Bigelow’s behalf from Ellis’s followers shows that she’s convinced plenty of people she’s a quality filmmaker, hotness aside.