In an ideal world everyone gets along, no one hates anyone and we certainly never try to ruin anyone’s career or life or anything else, for that matter. But when has the world even been ideal? We can’t even keep sabotage out of the world of pop culture which is mostly just dedicated to keeping people happy and entertained. In fact, sometimes pop culture saboteurs can get pretty dark or creative. Or both.
10. Wrestle The Fabulous Moolah Exploited And Sabotaged Other Female Wrestlers
Women’s pro wrestling has never been quite as popular as the men’s but the WWE has long included women on their roster and they play an important but still smaller role in the organization even today. But way back when there were only a handful of women who ever got screen time, and often they were valets for the male stars. One woman who enjoyed an extremely long career was known as the Fabulous Moolah.
Though she was the first woman that the WWE inducted into its Hall of Fame, her past would come back to haunt her and lead to a lot of controversy. It turns out Moolah was something of a monster to other women in the industry and went out of her way to sabotage anyone who didn’t bow to her whims, which included cutting her in for a lot of performance fees.
Other wrestlers have described Moolah as “evil,” and the list of accusations against her was extensive. As a wrestling trainer, she charged young up and comers both rent to live on her compound and training fees which resulted in most of them not having enough money to live and going into debt to Moolah who then wielded control over them. She was accused of pimping out the girls to business men instead of getting them wrestling gigs. Later, she was accused of sabotaging a tag team match in Japan by telling her girls that the title belt was supposed to change hands when it was actually not. No one believed them when they said Moolah told them to do it.
One of her girls, Mad Maxine, made a splash in the WWE and was set to become a character in their 80s Saturday morning cartoon which arguably would have made her a superstar. But Moolah, working as her manager, never told her. She took the role instead.
9. Fans Routinely Sabotage the Baja 1000 Rally Race
Head to the Baja Peninsula at the right time of year and you can witness one of the most popular off-road races in history. The Baja 1000 has been going since 1967 and people from all over the world attend to either participate or just watch. They call it the most dangerous race in North America and, in part, that’s because fans keep sabotaging it.
People have died at the Baja 1000 over the years, to give you some idea of just what is meant by “dangerous.” Dozens of people. The 1,000 mile course has claimed numerous victims due to accidents in mountains, in ravines and rivers, and in the silty sand that the course winds through. But there are also booby traps laid by locals intent on sabotaging the race as well. Sometimes they dig holes, sometimes they lay debris in the road. Once they redirected a river to flood the track. The reason isn’t to necessarily harm anyone, at least that’s not the main intent. It’s to make the race more exciting and dangerous, because that’s what the people crave. If they lead to accidents and death, well, that’s what everyone is signing up for.
8. John Belushi Would Purposely Tank SNL Sketches Written by Women
Saturday Night Live has had its fair share of huge personalities over the years, as well as the odd controversy for one reason or another. But it’s also had to endure cast members who just didn’t get along well with others. Chevy Chase was notoriously and admittedly awful to cast mates when he was in the cast. Bill Murray has also faced allegations of being pretty bad to work with on the show. And John Belushi was accused of outright sabotage.
Jane Curtin, one of the most famous female cast members in the show’s history, has gone on record saying that Belushi was such a misogynist that he would go out of his way to ruin sketches if a woman had written them. He believed women just weren’t funny and did what he could to ensure others believed it as well by making them look bad.
7. William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols Sabotaged Star Trek to Include an Interracial Kiss
Star Trek has endured as a franchise since the ’60s for a number of reasons, but one of the things the show was always about was the idea of inclusivity and diversity. The crew of the original Enterprise was diverse as a way to show that, in Gene Roddenberry’s vision, things like racism and hatred between nations no longer existed. In one of the most profound examples of this there was an episode featuring the characters of Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura sharing a kiss.
Kirk, a white man, and Uhura, a black woman, sharing a kiss may not seem like a big deal in the modern age but in 1968 when it happened it was. In fact, there had never been an interracial kiss on TV before. And it might not have happened either had the actors not intentionally sabotaged the scene.
NBC was afraid that some affiliates, particularly in the American South, would have a problem with the interracial kiss. They wanted a few takes of the scene including one with no kiss. But, according to Nichelle Nichols, the actress who played Uhura, William Shatner went out of his way to ruin all the non-kissing scenes so they wouldn’t be usable for broadcast. He sabotaged the scene so that the kiss would have to air because it was the only good take.
6. Mike Grell Sabotaged his Character Tyroc for DC Comics
You may not know the name Tyroc, even if you’re a comic book fan, and that’s partially the fault of Mike Grell. Grell created the character for the Legion of Super-Heroes in 1976 after having apparently been vocal about wanting to introduce a black character as there were literally none in the roster up to that point. He had been turned down and apparently he even had a black character he created colored white before publication, but later was given the opportunity to create Tyroc, the leader of an island of black people, who would be an antagonist of the League.
Grell felt the character was embarrassing and racist and, to hammer that point home, made him look embarrassing on the page. He made the character look like what he described as a cross between Elvis and a pimp. The character was mostly ignored after his initial appearance and eventually forgotten altogether.
5. Disney Tried to Sabotage FernGully Over Robin Williams
The animated film FernGully: The Last Rainforest came out in 1992 and probably the biggest splash it’s made since then was how everyone compared it to Avatar in 2009. But at the time it came out it was noteworthy for being a non-Disney animated movie with a voice cast that included the likes of Tim Curry, Christian Slater and, clearly the biggest star in the cast, Robin Williams.
As it happened, 1992 was also the year that Disney released the movie Aladdin, which also featured Robin Williams, this time in his well known role as the Genie. Today that role is remembered fondly and the idea of a big star in a voice role is as commonplace as butter on toast. But that was not always the case and, in fact, Robin Williams has been credited with changing the entire world of voice acting because of his role in Aladdin. Before him, big name actors did not do voice work in cartoons, it was all but unheard of.
Williams made Aladdin a hit and Disney knew that. So hearing that he was also voicing a character in a competitor’s film set them on edge. Which is to say they tried to ruin the production. Disney brass tried to get Williams to leave the role but he wouldn’t quit stating that “It’s my voice. You can’t stop me.”
Director Bill Kroyer spoke about renting facilities during production only to have Disney offer the owners more money and take them away. They tried to buy a third facility and at one point Disney chair Jeffrey Katzenberg showed up with eight people in tow and just wandered through the place. This was all because Katzenberg just didn’t want Williams being in someone else’s cartoon.
4. Disney Also Sabotaged Their Lion King Game
Ever hear someone tell you video games were harder when they were a kid? Or maybe you think that way yourself. Well, you’re probably not wrong. Sometimes companies sabotaged their own games to make them frustratingly unbeatable on purpose, like Disney did with their Lion King game.
Released on SNES in 1994, it was an intensely finicky and frustrating game. The devs made the game hard at Disney’s request so that no one could rent the game and beat it in a weekend. Their research showed if a player rented a game and did too well, they wouldn’t buy it. So they made it all but unbeatable in the hopes you’d shell out for your own copy.
3. Wham’s Manager Sabotaged Queen
Wham!, the band that made George Michael famous in the ’80s, was the first Western pop act to play in China but it wasn’t planned that way. Queen was the first act chosen but a little creative sabotage took them out of the running.
The band’s manager had spent a year and a half trying to get Wham! to play China. He says he flew to China and ended up taking 143 government figures to lunch again and again to convince them to let the band play. But since they were also considering Queen, he made up pamphlets. One showed Wham! fans as nice, mild-mannered teens. The other depicted Freddie Mercury in a “provocative” pose, meant to scare the Chinese off. It worked, and Wham! got the gig.
2. Ed Sullivan Sabotaged Buddy Holly Live on TV
Back in the day anyone who was anyone had to appear on Ed Sullivan if they wanted to get known and that’s just what Buddy Holly did. In 1958, Holly and his band made their second and final appearance on the show after angering Sullivan so much he actively sabotaged their live performance.
Sullivan, who was known to have a temper, asked the band to play a different song because he thought their song “Oh Boy!” was too raucous. Holly informed Sullivan that he planned to sing “Oh Boy!” and that’s what the band was playing.
Adding fuel to the fire, Sullivan wanted to speak to the band during rehearsal and only Holly showed up, making a joke about it. During the show he responded by reducing the band to one song instead of two. Then he introduced Holly by mispronouncing his name and also cut off the mic to Holly’s guitar which is why Holly does a guitar solo at one point to make it obvious he’s playing but the mic just isn’t working.
1. Sharon Osbourne Sabotaged Iron Maiden’s Ozzfest Performance
Ozzfest is an almost annual music festival that dates back to 1996, started by Ozzy Osbourne and his family to showcase rock, metal and other hardcore acts. Ozzy himself headlined along with other huge acts that ranged from Slipknot and Marilyn Manson to Metallica and Motley Crue. One of the more classic metal acts on the lineup in 2005 was Iron Maiden and things did not go well.
Lead singer of Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson, made the mistake of publicly making fun of Ozzy Osbourne and his reality show. He also accused Ozzy of using a teleprompter on stage. Ozzy’s wife and manager Sharon Osbourne responded by letting loose the dogs of war.
Osbourne cut off the band’s sound system several times and arranged to have fans (and possibly other bands) pelt them with eggs when they took the stage. Others stormed the stage during the show with a flag warning them not to eff with Ozzy. When they left the stage, Sharon told the crowd of 40,000 that Dickinson was a prick.
The two exchanged less-than-pleasant words in the press afterwards, and it’s safe to say Iron Maiden is still probably not welcome on tour with Ozzy, nor would they want to join up again.