Are Scandals Bad for Business?


The decade has certainly been a scandal-filled one, but hey, what decade isn’t? Celebrities get boozy, get violent, get away from their wives and get caught, and everything gets aired out on the national stage. The question is, though: do scandals actually affect sales? Did T.I. lose album sales after he was thrown in jail for buying machine guns? Is Charlie Sheen’s recent family violence enough to knock down ratings on his hit TV show? We found out! After the jump, revisit some of our favorite disgraced celebrities and see whether their careers were unaffected, threatened, or bolstered by their indiscretions.

Tiger Woods (Boinked like a million mistresses): Well, even the book he had in the SUV when it crashed (caught in pap pictures) has soared in popularity, so we’re taking that as a good sign for Tiger. However, he hasn’t been seen in a commercial since November 29th, his sponsors have reportedly taken upwards of $12 million dollars in losses, and according to CNN his popularity ratings are down to 35 percent (compare that to his 85% approval rating in 2005). We want to know: why and how does one poll the popularity ratings on Tiger Woods? Career: Threatened.

T.I. (Arrested for machine gun possession in 2007 just before the BET awards, this March he was sentenced to a year and a day in jail on a federal weapons rap, this December he got out): Paper Trail, which T.I. wrote while under house arrest and awaiting trial, saw his highest debut sales to date and made double platinum in August. Career: Bolstered.

Alec Baldwin (Went postal on his 11-year old daughter’s voicemail in 2007, notorious for anger issues): Won eight awards between 2007 and now, including two Golden Globes and two Emmys. We think no one cares that he’s a jackass in real life, for good or for ill. Career: Unaffected.

Charlie Sheen (arrested this past Christmas Day on charges of assaulting his wife, previously known for a down-‘n’-dirty custody battle with ex-wife Denise Richards and shooting then-fiancee Kelly Preston in the arm): ratings for Two and a Half Men are totally unaffected… so far. According to a PR agent, that’s because ‘no one expects anything more from him.’ Ouch. Career: Unaffected.

Hugh Grant (arrested two weeks before the release of his film Nine Months for “lewd conduct” with a prostitute in Hollywood): Nine Months grossed $138,510,230 worldwide box office, more than any of his previous films besides the classic Four Weddings and a Funeral. That’s still less than he made for the terrible Music and Lyrics, though, so we don’t know. And while his well-known misbehavior (more recently, he attacked the paps with baked beans) hasn’t seemed to stop people from going to his movies, maybe he’s getting his comeuppance now, having to star in Did You Hear About the Morgans? and being forced to try his charms on a bear. Career: Bolstered.

Amy Winehouse (went quickly from being a new, amazing international star to being arrested for possession, then assault, then smoking crack, then for assault, then assault again): Unclear. Back to Black, the album that made her famous, was the biggest selling record of 2007, but her next album set for 2010 has been mired in fits and starts due to her penchant for crack rock and an on-again, off-again marriage to bad boy Blake Fielder-Civil. We’ll have to see if Winehouse’s wild child reputation has alienated her fans or just made them all the more interested. Career: Threatened.

Verdict: Apparently the American public doesn’t care much if their favorite entertainers do bad stuff in their personal lives. In fact, if anything, scandal brings attention and attention brings sales — are we so easily bought, dear readers? Just get nabbed doing drugs, soliciting prostitutes or slapping your wife around and we’ll snap to attention? Yes, yes, it seems so.

Who have we missed (and how has their naughtiness affected their bankroll)?