Numerous celebrities claim to be impervious to the effects of both positive and negative criticism, often asserting that they don’t bother reading reviews of their work or projects. Nevertheless, certain well-known entertainers and public figures have taken great offense at negative critiques, choosing to publicly confront the critics. In some instances, they engage in arguments over the comments or even resort to personally insulting the reviewers. Here are 10 noteworthy examples of celebrities openly retaliating against their critics.
10 Justin Bieber vs. Morgan Stewart
Impromptu performances by beloved artists can be a source of excitement for fans, especially when the entertainer has been absent from the stage for an extended period, as was the case with Justin Bieber’s surprise appearance at the Coachella festival in 2019. However, amidst the thrilled crowds eager to witness the return of the popular artist, there are always critics ready to analyze the performance.
Justin Bieber took offense at accusations from Nightly Pop host Morgan Stewart that he had lip-synced during the surprise Coachella performance. In response to her comments, Bieber went on Twitter, vehemently denying the lip-syncing allegation and stating that he sang “overtop” a recording of his hit song “Sorry.” He also expressed strong disapproval, saying, “It’s people like you that are bullies at school that are making kids suicidal.”
Apart from the lip-syncing claims, Stewart remarked on the performance, stating, “I did not realize it was going to be that bad.” She also commented on Bieber’s facial appearance, suggesting that it looked like he had applied an “Oxy pad on that forehead.” Ariana Grande, the Coachella headliner who shared the stage with Bieber, came to his defense, explaining that the impromptu decision to perform together necessitated the use of a backtrack.
9 Cara Delevingne vs. Joe Morgenstern
Featuring a star-studded cast, including Margot Robbie and Will Smith, the 2016 film “Suicide Squad,” based on a comic book, centers around a group of supervillains tasked with uniting to save the world. While the movie found success at the box office, it faced harsh criticism from several prominent reviewers, who expressed disappointment and boredom with the project. Some critics were notably blunt in their assessments.
Joe Morgenstern, in his review for the Wall Street Journal, didn’t mince words, declaring, “In a word, ‘Suicide Squad’ is trash. In two words, it’s ugly trash,” and even went so far as to label it “an all-out attack on the whole idea of entertainment.”
Morgenstern’s critique was not an isolated opinion, as other critics also panned the film. Cara Delevingne, who portrayed June Moone/Enchantress, defended “Suicide Squad” against such harsh criticisms. In an interview with Reuters, she expressed her dismay, calling the critics’ reviews “absolutely horrific” and suggesting that they might not be fans of superhero films.
8 Michael Che vs. Stephen Hyden
It’s not unusual for celebrities and high-profile figures to come to the defense of their friends or associates when faced with negative criticism. One instance of this occurred when Michael Che, a cast member and co-head writer of Saturday Night Live (SNL), launched an attack on Uproxx writer Stephen Hyden via Instagram. This retaliation came after Hyden wrote a critical article titled “Why Does Everyone (Still) Hate SNL’s Colin Jost?” questioning Che’s Weekend Update partner, Colin Jost.
Given Che’s comedic profession, using humor as a response might be expected. However, the shocking aspect was the use of obscene jokes, including bestiality references directed at Hyden. Che posted a series of satirical news stories about a writer engaging in inappropriate acts with rescued dogs, suggesting a connection to Hyden.
Che’s public confrontations with critics don’t end there. He also participated in a lengthy feud with Jack Allison, a podcaster and former Jimmy Kimmel Live! writer, who openly referred to SNL as the “worst show on TV.”
7 Samuel L. Jackson vs. A.O. Scott
Film critic A. O. Scott wasn’t particularly impressed with the 2012 action sci-fi blockbuster “The Avengers,” as indicated in his New York Times review. The movie, based on Marvel comic books, follows a team of superheroes and uniquely skilled individuals collaborating to save Earth from alien threats. Scott’s review leaned mostly toward the negative, criticizing not only the grand action sequences but also expressing dissatisfaction with Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal of spy and Avengers founder Nick Fury, suggesting Jackson was “more master of ceremonies than mission commander.”
In response to Scott’s critique, Samuel L. Jackson, who had previously played the character in “Iron Man,” took to Twitter to reverse the criticism. Jackson attacked Scott’s performance as a critic, writing, “#Avengers fans, NY Times critic AO Scott needs a new job! Let’s help him find one! One he can ACTUALLY do!”
Despite the critique, Jackson continued to embody the character of Nick Fury in more than a dozen projects in the following years.
6 James Corden’s Father vs. Mark Kermode
When an actor lends their voice to an animated character, the suitability of their voice becomes more apparent compared to their physical appearance in a live-action project. Late-night host and actor James Corden’s voice, in particular, drew significant attention from BBC Radio’s Mark Kermode. Kermode was notably critical of Corden’s portrayal of the title role in the 2018 film “Peter Rabbit,” finding his voice “irritating” and, in his opinion, unsuitable for the character. While Kermode did have other criticisms of the film, the perceived mismatch of Corden’s voice with the character stood out as a primary concern.
Malcolm Corden, James Corden’s father, expressed his strong disapproval of Kermode’s comments, which were broadcast on “Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review.” In a letter to the show, Malcolm Corden conveyed how challenging it was to hear Kermode describe his son as “appallingly irritating.” He went on to admonish Kermode for singling out James Corden’s performance in his critique and expressed his hope that the critic would never have to endure someone describing their own children in such a manner.
In response, Kermode humorously acknowledged his parents having heard him called worse things than “appallingly irritating.”
5 Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon vs. Mike Hale
The HBO drama “Big Little Lies” (2017–2019), featuring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley, faced criticism from New York Times critic Mike Hale. Hale, unimpressed by the series based on Liane Moriarty’s bestselling novel, characterized the women’s stories as a collection of clichés about upper-middle-class angst. He specifically targeted a subplot involving an abusive relationship, unfavorably comparing it to “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
In response to the critique, both Kidman and Witherspoon addressed the issue during a Q&A session with the Television Critics Association, without directly naming the critic. They questioned whether the reviewer had watched the entire series, with Witherspoon suggesting he might have only seen one episode. Witherspoon shared that she and Kidman had discussed the review privately.
Kidman expressed her reaction, saying, “I was like, please watch the whole show…” Despite recognizing the time commitment, she believed it was essential to view all episodes to appreciate the completeness of the series.
4 Lizzo vs. Rawiya Kameir
In a nuanced review of Lizzo’s acclaimed 2019 album “Cuz I Love You,” Pitchfork critic Rawiya Kameir examined both the artist and the material. While praising Lizzo’s talent, Kameir identified flaws in some tracks, citing “overwrought production, awkward turns of phrase, and ham-handed rapping.” She also questioned the realism of Lizzo’s goal to be her generation’s Aretha Franklin, suggesting a closer comparison to Natasha Bedingfield.
Responding to the 6.5-star review on social media, Lizzo tweeted (now deleted), “PEOPLE WHO ‘REVIEW’ ALBUMS AND DONT MAKE MUSIC THEMSELVES SHOULD BE UNEMPLOYED.” Although her comments sparked a debate about the role of non-musicians in music journalism, Kameir’s review stood in contrast to the album’s overall positive reception. While some sympathized with Lizzo, her reaction faced a significant backlash.
3 Rob Schneider vs. Patrick Goldstein
Actor and comedian Rob Schneider, known for his roles in wacky and irreverent films like “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,” has often faced criticism from critics despite his popularity with audiences. In response to Patrick Goldstein’s review of the 2005 sequel, “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo,” where Goldstein joked about the film not receiving Oscar nominations for “Best Running Penis Joke Delivered by a Third-Rate Comic,” Schneider, who co-wrote the film, launched a retaliatory campaign.
Schneider took out full-page ads in the Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety, targeting Goldstein with insults in an open letter. Schneider suggested that Goldstein hadn’t won a Pulitzer Prize because there wasn’t a category for a “Third-Rate, Unfunny Pompous Reporter.” The feud escalated when renowned critic Roger Ebert joined the fray, defending Goldstein’s credentials and expressing his negative opinion about the movie. Ebert, citing his Pulitzer, bluntly concluded his review by stating that the film “sucks.”
2 Vincent Gallo vs. Roger Ebert
In 2003, Roger Ebert heavily criticized “The Brown Bunny,” a film directed by and starring Vincent Gallo, portraying a professional motorcycle racer and his romantic life. Ebert went to the extent of deeming this experimental road drama as “The worst film in the history of the [Cannes Film] Festival.” This sparked an unusual feud between Gallo and Ebert, taking on a tone more reminiscent of a schoolyard dispute than a discussion about cinema.
The highlights of the feud included a sarcastic comment from Gallo about Ebert’s physique and claims that he had put a hex on Ebert’s prostate and colon. Ebert, in response, humorously mentioned that watching footage of his own colonoscopy on a TV screen “was more entertaining than ‘The Brown Bunny.'” Addressing Gallo’s jest about his body, Ebert pointed out that he could lose weight, but Gallo would “still be the director of ‘The Brown Bunny.'”
Surprisingly, something positive eventually emerged from this conflict. Gallo re-edited the movie, and Ebert gave it a positive review.
1 Lana del Rey vs. Anne Powers
In response to one of the relatively few negative reviews of her 2019 album “Norman F Rockwell,” singer Lana Del Rey challenged NPR critic Ann Powers via Twitter, stating, in part, “I don’t even relate to one observation you made about the music. There’s nothing uncooked about me. To write about me is nothing like it is to be with me…”
Del Rey also took exception to Powers referencing her “bad girl” persona, something Del Rey has been accused of over the years. The singer insisted that she has never had a persona.
While Del Rey’s comments were at least civil and focused on the review itself, rather than personal attacks, as some artists have been known to launch against their critics, many of Del Rey’s supporters displayed less maturity in their protest against Powers’ critique. Despite some of Del Rey’s fans defending the critic, a significant number insulted Powers’ appearance and called for her career to be destroyed, even though much of her review was actually positive.
Powers eventually addressed the controversy, explaining that her intention was “to evoke the complicated feelings her music prompts while also exploring what, in LDR’s music and in the culture, might have contributed to such feelings.”