When you read a celebrity’s memoirs, you expect juicy confessions, tell-all gossip, and war stories that couldn’t be fictional because nobody has enough imagination to make this crap up (Keith Richards snorting his father’s ashes because he couldn’t find any other drugs comes immediately to mind).
Of course, all that flies out the window if the celebrity writing the autobiography has nothing of note to say. Sometimes they’re protecting their image. Sometimes they’re on a gag order to keep quiet about things they know. But other times, they have squat to say because they just haven’t been around long enough. The following famous people really should have waited a couple decades or so before spinning their awe-inspiring tales.
10. Britney Spears
When Britney arrived on the scene back in 1998, she was fond of letting everybody know how pure and wholesome she was; just a down-to-earth Southern gal who went to church, loved her Mom, wouldn’t dream of making whoopee with a guy until they were married for at least two years, and only dressed in schoolgirl skirts that were shorter than most people’s underwear because that’s absolutely what all schoolgirls look like.
In order to further the myth that Britney was an angel who only lived to sing, dance, and pray, she released Heart To Heart, a 2000 memoir that covers all sorts of important topics, such as Britney dancing at age three, the Spears family’s water heater breaking in the dead of winter, and how decidedly normal she truly is. Rumor has it that Britney, now that she has spent the past decade gradually exposing her inner psychotic druggie nympho, will release a series of additional books, with the idea that she finally has something to say. Or rather, her Dad has something to say, since she’s under a conservatorship where she can’t do anything other than breathe unless he OK’s it first.
That’s right, one autobiography of three people. Back in 2002, the band released Soul Survivors, the story of three best friends who loved each other very much and sold millions of records despite everybody saying they were done and that Beyoncé Knowles, the daughter of the band’s manager, just wanted a solo career anyway. They would persevere though, because they were survivors. Eight years later, Beyoncé does indeed have an enormously successful solo career, far more successful than anything she did with Destiny’s Child, and is the face of R&B/hip-hop royalty with her also-insanely-rich-and-successful husband Jay-Z.
Meanwhile, the other two members, whats-her-face and whos-a-whatsit, could ring up your purchase at Wal-Mart and you would be none the wiser. Yet despite how fun it would be to read a series of books where all three members (plus maybe the other two who were fired after suggesting that Beyoncé might be getting preferential treatment from her Dad) dish dirt on each other, all we’ve ever gotten is the one safe and fluffy story filled with nothing in particular. Which is likely the way Mrs. Z wants it.
The most intimidating man to ever sport the dumb-ass name of “Dwayne,” Johnson is an international movie star, capable of headlining action flicks and Disney films alike. And yet his memoirs created the impression of a guy who had so little to say, he had to become a wrestling character half the time just to fill the pages.
The Rock Says, part of a series of WWE-published autobiographies where wrestlers tell their life stories, was released in 2000, before Dwayne became a movie star but after he became one of the three or four most popular wrestlers of all time. And yet, he had very little to reveal. Few road stories, and what he did talk about came across as lacking in detail. The only reason it was book-length was because he spent half the book talking as “The Rock,” his wrestling alter-ego. Mick Foley didn’t do that, and he had enough to say about his own life to fill two gigantic books spanning about a thousand pages total.
It’s more the WWE’s fault than Dwayne’s though; they wanted the book out there so money could be made. The fact that Dwayne wasn’t even close to thirty years old at the time meant nothing to them. No wonder Rock had to step in and save Dwayne’s candy-ass time and again.
7. Justin Bieber
This one’s a tad pre-emptive, as Bieber is still, as of this writing, roughly ten years old. But the Canadian singing sensation with the greatest bowl haircut since Moe the Stooge has already released his life story, which has already been turned into a movie. Not bad for a six-month-old who has so little to say about what little life he has experienced, he has (smartly) balked at calling his book an autobiography. Instead, Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever: My Story is being dubbed an “illustrated book,” perhaps because Bieber himself is too young to know how to read.
Pictures or not, it’s still his life story up until now; once he graduates beyond being an embryo, perhaps he’ll have some more interesting stories to tell. Because, as it stands, the only thing his book reveals is that he really: likes: colons. Which, admittedly, is quite impressive for somebody who hasn’t even been conceived yet.
6. Sammy Sosa
Back in 1998, professional baseball was in a bit of slumber due to going on strike and cancelling the World Series several years before. Renewed interest came only after a couple of muscle-heads started hitting a slew of homeruns and put Roger Maris’ single-season home run record in jeopardy.
Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captured our imaginations and became modern day folk heroes. For Sammy’s part, he responded by penning a memoir, imaginatively titled Sosa: An Autobiography. Speaking of imaginative, the book actually manages to present the case that a guy who never hit more than 40 homers in a season (and who only accomplished that feat once) suddenly could slam 66 one year, 63 the next, and then 64 a couple seasons later, all because he suddenly got a really good hitting coach who helped him control his aggression. A decade’s worth of steroid accusations, not to mention a decent explanation of why a single sneeze could screw up a guy’s back so bad he never played a full season again, would have made for more interesting prose than the borderline fiction he drummed up in 2000.
5. Miley Cyrus
Graduating from the Britney school of nutty-sex-crazed-teenager-pretends-to-be-sweet-and-wholesome, young Miley Cyrus penned her memoir, Miles To Go, which might be the most apropos title in this whole article. Miley truly had, and still has, miles to go before she can tell a decent life story, especially since she wrote the book before her parents broke up and she responded by becoming a borderline nutjob, hitting bongs of god-knows-what with various college kids, writhing on a stripper pole during a televised performance, and bragging in song about how she “can’t be tamed.”
As such, the book is little more than a couple hundred pages of how blessed she has been, how hard she has had to work, and how awesome her family has been, with the occasional cutesy travel story thrown in to justify the paper the contract was written on. If she ever decides to pen a sequel (preferably after the inevitable three divorces, half-dozen rehab stints, and release from an institution), then maybe we’ll have something worth reading.
4. Marion Jones
Between her and Sammy Sosa, there seems to be a popular trend among celebrity writers to put pen to paper before scandals get unveiled and everything goes to hell. Ms. Jones won five Olympic gold medals in running and became a hero to all who like their women really hard to catch. Her book, Marion Jones: Life in the Fast Lane, succeeded on two fronts. It got that damned Eagles song stuck in everybody’s head, and it managed to tell Jones’ inspiring life story while omitting the part about being as juiced-up as anybody else out there.
In 2007, seven years after her Olympic run, Jones admitted to using steroids and lying about it when questioned by federal grand juries in the past. That lying part stuck in the government’s craw, and she was sent to jail for six months. She is now medal-less, having given them up after admitting she had more BALCO than blood, and is now a moderately successful WNBA rookie earning $35,000 per year. So yes, the assistant manager at your local 7-11 likely makes more than a former Olympic gold medalist.
Jones has managed to do what nobody else on this list has though: pen a far more honest follow-up. On the Right Track: From Olympic Downfall to Finding Forgiveness and the Strength to Overcome and Succeed admits to basically everything she did as a dirty cheater and is a far more interesting read than the original, pseudo-inspirational cover-up tale. Even if it does take a week-and-a-half to read the title.
3. Tim Tebow
Tebow falls under the Justin Bieber category of people who are preemptively on this list, since we all know they’re penning their memoirs way too early, even without proof or hindsight. But at least Bieber can say he flirts with Kim Kardashian and doesn’t get laughed at or slapped repeatedly. What has Tim Tebow done?
For that matter, who is he, many of you probably wonder? He’s the second or third-string quarterback for the Denver Broncos, depending on how badly their “star” quarterback is faring that week. He was fairly impressive in college and got drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. So why did he garner enough attention to write a damn autobiography? Because he’s really really religious, basically.
Tebow flirted with controversy by putting Bible messages on his eye black during college games (something the NFL doesn’t let anybody do, much less a third-string bag carrier), and appearing in a pro-life commercial during the Super Bowl. His book, Through My Eyes, is very new, having been released at the end of May 2011, but if all these other autobiographies are any indication, we know what to expect. If you like spending 27 dollars on an unproven rookie’s “faith, life and career in football,” then knock yourself out. Literally.
2. Vanilla Ice
The poster boy for poseur rap tries to convince us all how hard he is. Ice By Ice was released at the height of his fame (AKA a month after the beginning of his fame and a week before the end of it), and gave us all a glimpse of his hard-knock life. He grew up on the streets, had a rough childhood, blew everybody away through his master freestyling and breakdance abilities, and he was the most original and innovative guy around, inventing the always-popular fashion statement ofwearing one boot and one tennis shoe that all of you readers are surely sporting today.
This book was almost certainly written by somebody else and either embellishes facts or completely makes them up, just so Ice could get himself some street-cred. Didn’t work. A true Vanilla Ice memoir today, after all the pain, outrage, and humiliation he has dealt with, would be worth every penny. As it stands, Ice’s life story is one of the worst ever. Hell, it isn’t even the best fake autobiography ever written (that honor would go to Leslie Nielsen, who at least admits the fiction right on the damn cover.)
1. Michael Jackson
For those of you who were around during the ‘70s and early ‘80’s, you might remember a time when Michael Jackson looked and acted like a normal human being. Once the late ‘80s rolled around, he was starting to change, becoming increasingly pale and fey-looking while hanging around with a monkey and continually grabbing his crotch in public. But he wasn’t totally off the deep end yet when, in 1988, he released his book Moonwalk. The autobiography was short and loaded with pictures because he wanted his monkey to enjoy it too, evidently. Very little was revealed, as Michael Jackson didn’t really do much aside from sing, dance, hang out with Elizabeth Taylor, and sleep in hyperbaric oxygen chambers. He did reveal that his father was abusive, but he was a child star who was singing in front of crowds since he was five, so a lot of people assumed that already.
The remaining twenty years of his life, filled with endless plastic surgery, child rape charges, failed marriages with Elvis’ daughter and a random nurse, painkillers, dangling infants from really high balconies, accusing his label of failing to promote his new album because he was black (despite being more or less transparent by that point), and other general insanity, would have made for an absolutely wonderful story, as told by the man who lived through all that goofiness. Unfortunately, he only ever wrote the one book, which ended up being little more than a teaser for all the fun that lay ahead.