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10 Things Various Celebrities Decided to Boycott

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When they got fed up, celebs left these things behind—sometimes temporarily, and sometimes for good.

1. Florida

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Florida won't be the sunshine of Stevie Wonder's life ... A day after the Zimmerman trial verdict, the legendary soul singer announced that he's boycotting Florida until the "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law is abolished. "As a matter of fact, wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world," Wonder said. That would take 23 other states—including Illinois, Oregon, and even Michigan, home of Motown—off his tour schedule.

2. Kick-Ass 2

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Critics are one thing. But what happens when a leading man gives his own movie a bad review? In June, Jim Carrey denounced Kick-Ass 2, claiming that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December had changed his views on movie violence. The movie's executive producer quickly rushed to its defense. Despite Carrey's change of heart, the actor is probably contractually obligated to walk the red carpet and promote Kick-Ass 2 when it opens on August 16.

3. Instagram

Celebrities were outraged when Instagram announced changes to its terms of use that would allow the company to sell users' images to advertisers without notification. Even the paparazzi doesn't do that! Pink, Olivia Wilde, Kate Walsh, and model Bar Rafaeli were just a few famous Instagram users who threatened to delete their accounts when the change went into effect on January 16. Pink kept her word, leaving behind 12 million followers. Wilde no longer posts pictures. Walsh and Rafaeli still use the site. Stars: They're just like us.

4. Zero Dark Thirty

The 2012 war film Zero Dark Thirty made many viewers uncomfortable, including actors Martin Sheen and Ed Asner. The two, along with Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences member David Clennon, claimed the film promoted torture and started a campaign against it during the 2013 Academy Awards season. Zero Dark Thirty received five nominations, but only tied with Skyfall for Best Sound Editing.

5. Two and a Half Men

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Two years after becoming the highest paid child star on television, 19-year-old Angus T. Jones urged the public not to watch Two and a Half Men. The born again actor called the show "filth" during a video interview with the religious website Forerunner Chronicles. Jones issued an apology the next day. Former co-star Charlie Sheen's response: "I like the apology his lawyers wrote for him—that was pretty good." Jones will play a smaller recurring role in season 11.

6. Awards campaigning

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Mo'Nique was thrilled when her performance in Precious was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009. But she wasn't eager to campaign for the Oscar with countless interviews and media appearances, like most actors do. So she didn't, and it led to an angry backlash. Film industry insiders and critics called Mo'Nique unprofessional and ungrateful. She won the Oscar, anyway.

7. Hugo Boss

The same year that Mo'Nique took home an Oscar, Danny Glover told attendees what not to wear. Fashion house Hugo Boss was set to close its Cleveland plant and lay off 400 workers a few weeks after the ceremony. Glover and the labor union Workers United urged Hollywood stars to dress up in another label in protest. Most Oscar-goers went along with the plan, and the plant stayed open. In 2012, Hugo Boss workers signed a three-year contract with the company.

8. Jay Leno

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Thousands of supporters proclaimed "I'm With Coco" when Conan O'Brien left The Tonight Show and was replaced by his predecessor Jay Leno. Fellow late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel even compared Leno to Jason from the Friday the 13th movies: “Just when you think he’s dead, he comes back.” Every other late night talk show host agreed. In May, NBC announced that Leno's finally being put to rest. Jimmy Fallon will take over The Tonight Show on February 24, 2014.

9. Hilton Hotels

In a 2007 appearance on The Tyra Banks Show, Senator Barack Obama revealed that his 9-year-old daughter, Malia, had been watching the news and didn't approve of Paris Hilton's bad behavior. At the time, Hilton had been sentenced to jail for driving with a suspended license after an earlier drunk driving arrest. Obama explained that Malia feels so strongly that she's asked her parents not to stay in Hilton hotels. Maybe she has a future in politics, too.

10. Cristal

Diss and ye shall receive. In a 2006 interview with The Economist, Frederic Rouzaud, managing director of the company that produces Cristal, was asked if mentions in rap music have been detrimental to the high-end champagne brand. His response: "That's a good question, but what can we do? We can't forbid people from buying it. I'm sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business." Rapper Jay-Z immediately announced that he was pulling the bubbly from his 40/40 Club chain and wouldn't be drinking it at home, either. In the 2009 single "On to the Next One," he rapped, "I used to drink Cristal, them f***ers racist/So I switched gold bottles on to that Spade s**t."

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When the FBI Investigated the 'Murder' of Nine Inch Nails's Trent Reznor
Karl Walter, Getty Images
Karl Walter, Getty Images

The two people standing over the body, Michigan State Police detective Paul Wood told the Hard Copy cameras, “had a distinctive-type uniform on. As I recall: black pants, some type of leather jacket with a design on it, and one was wearing combat boots. The other was wearing what looked like patent leather shoes. So if it was a homicide, I was thinking it was possibly a gang-type homicide.”

Wood was describing a puzzling case local police, state police, and eventually the FBI had worked hard to solve for over a year. The mystery began in 1989, when farmer Robert Reed spotted a circular group of objects floating over his farm just outside of rural Burr Oak, Michigan; it turned out to be a cluster of weather balloons attached to a Super 8 camera.

When the camera landed on his property, the surprised farmer didn't develop the footage—he turned it over to the police. Some local farmers had recently gotten into trouble for letting wild marijuana grow on the edges of their properties, and Reed thought the balloons and camera were a possible surveillance technique. But no state or local jurisdictions used such rudimentary methods, so the state police in East Lansing decided to develop the film. What they saw shocked them.

A city street at night; a lifeless male body with a mysterious substance strewn across his face; two black-clad men standing over the body as the camera swirled away up into the sky, with a third individual seen at the edge of the frame running away, seemingly as fast as possible. Michigan police immediately began analyzing the footage for clues, and noticed the lights of Chicago’s elevated train system, which was over 100 miles away.

It was the first clue in what would become a year-long investigation into what they believed was either a cult killing or gang murder. When they solved the “crime” of what they believed was a real-life snuff film, they were more shocked than when the investigation began: The footage was from the music video for “Down In It,” the debut single from industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, and the supposed dead body was the group's very-much-alive lead singer, Trent Reznor.

 
 

In 1989, Nine Inch Nails was about to release their debut album, Pretty Hate Machine, which would go on to be certified triple platinum in the United States. The record would define the emerging industrial rock sound that Reznor and his rotating cast of bandmates would experiment with throughout the 1990s and even today on albums like The Downward Spiral and The Slip.

The band chose the song “Down In It”—a track with piercing vocals, pulsing electronic drums, sampled sound effects, and twisted nursery rhyme-inspired lyrics—as Pretty Hate Machine's first single. They began working with H-Gun, a Chicago-based multimedia team led by filmmakers Eric Zimmerman and Benjamin Stokes (who had created videos for such bands as Ministry and Revolting Cocks), and sketched out a rough idea for the music video.

Filmed on location among warehouses and parking garages in Chicago, the video was supposed to culminate in a shot with a leather-jacketed Reznor running to the top of a building, while two then-members of the band followed him wearing studded jumpsuits; the video would fade out with an epic floating zoom shot to imply that Reznor's cornstarch-for-blood-covered character had fallen off the building and died in the street. Because the cash-strapped upstarts didn’t have enough money for a fancy crane to achieve the shot for their video, they opted to tie weather balloons to the camera and let it float up from Reznor, who was lying in the street surrounded by his bandmates. They eventually hoped to play the footage backward to get the shot in the final video.

Instead, the Windy City lived up to its name and quickly whisked the balloons and camera away. With Reznor playing dead and his bandmates looking down at him, only one of the filmmakers noticed. He tried to chase down the runaway camera—which captured his pursuit—but it was lost, forcing them to finish shooting the rest of the video and release it without the planned shot from the missing footage in September of 1989.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the band, a drama involving their lost camera was unfolding in southwest Michigan. Police there eventually involved the Chicago police, whose detectives determined that the footage had been filmed in an alley in the city's Fulton River District. After Chicago authorities found no homicide reports matching the footage for the neighborhood and that particular time frame, they handed the video over to the FBI, whose pathologists reportedly said that, based on the substance on the individual, the body in the video was rotting.

 
 

The "substance" in question was actually the result of the low-quality film and the color of the cornstarch on the singer’s face, which had also been incorporated into the press photos for Pretty Hate Machine. It was a nod to the band's early live shows, in which Reznor would spew cornstarch and chocolate syrup on his band members and the audience. “It looks really great under the lights, grungey, a sort of anti-Bon Jovi and the whole glamour thing,” Reznor said in a 1991 interview.

With no other easy options, and in order to generate any leads that might help them identify the victim seen in the video, the authorities distributed flyers to Chicago schools asking if anyone knew any details behind the strange “killing.”

The tactic worked. A local art student was watching MTV in 1991 and saw the distinctive video for “Down In It,” which reminded him of one of the flyers he had seen at school. He contacted the Chicago police to tip them off to who their supposed "murder victim" really was. Nine Inch Nails’s manager was notified, and he told Reznor and the filmmakers what had really happened to their lost footage.

“It’s interesting that our top federal agency, the Federal Bureau of [Investigation], couldn’t crack the Super 8 code,” co-director Zimmerman said in an interview. As for Wood and any embarrassment law enforcement had after the investigation: “I thought it was our duty, one way or the other, to determine what was on that film,” he said.

“My initial reaction was that it was really funny that something could be that blown out of proportion with this many people worked up about it,” Reznor said, and later told an interviewer, “There was talk that I would have to appear and talk to prove that I was alive.” Even though—in the eyes of state, local, and federal authorities—he was reportedly dead for over a year, Reznor didn’t seem to be bothered by it: “Somebody at the FBI had been watching too much Hitchcock or David Lynch or something,” he reasoned.

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ZUMA Press, Inc., Alamy
5 Fascinating Facts About Koko the Gorilla
ZUMA Press, Inc., Alamy
ZUMA Press, Inc., Alamy

After 46 years of learning, making new friends, and challenging ideas about language, Koko the gorilla died in her sleep at her home at the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California on June 21, 2018. Koko first gained recognition in the late 1970s for her ability to use sign language, but it was her friendly personality that made her a beloved icon. Here are five facts you should know about the history-making ape.

1. SHE KNEW OVER 1000 SIGNS.

Francine "Penny" Patterson, then a graduate student at Stanford University, was looking for an animal subject for her inter-species animal communication experiment in the early 1970s when she found a baby gorilla at the San Francisco Zoo. Originally named Hanabiko (Japanese for "fireworks child," a reference to her Fourth of July birthdate), Koko took to signing quickly. Some of the first words Koko learned in "Gorilla Sign Language," Patterson's modified version of American Sign Language, were "food," "drink," and "more." She followed a similar trajectory as a human toddler, learning the bulk of her words between ages 2.5 and 4.5. Eventually Koko would come to know over 1000 signs and understand about 2000 words spoken to her in English. Though she never got a grasp on grammar or syntax, she was able to express complex ideas, like sadness when watching a sad movie and her desire to have a baby.

2. SHE CHANGED WHAT WE KNEW ABOUT LANGUAGE.

Not only did Koko use language to communicate—she also used it in a way that was once only thought possible in humans. Her caretakers have reported her signing about objects that weren't in the room, recalling memories, and even commenting on language itself. Her vocabulary was on par with that of a 3-year-old child.

3. SHE WASN'T THE ONLY APE WHO SIGNED.

Koko was the most famous great ape who knew sign language, but she wasn't alone. Michael, a male gorilla who lived with Koko at the Gorilla Foundation from 1976 until his death in 2000, learned over 500 signs with help from Koko and Patterson. He was even able to express the memory of his mother being killed by poachers when he was a baby. Other non-human primates have also shown they're capable of learning sign language, like Washoe the chimpanzee and Chantek the orangutan.

4. SHE HAD FAMOUS FRIENDS.

Koko received many visitors during her lifetime, including some celebrities. When Robin Williams came to her home in Woodside, California in 2001, the two bonded right away, with Williams tickling the gorilla and Koko trying on his glasses. But perhaps her most famous celebrity encounter came when Mr. Rogers paid her a visit in 1999. She immediately recognized him as the star of one of her favorite shows, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and greeted him by helping him take off his shoes like he did at the start of every episode.

5. SHE WAS A LOVING CAT MOM.

Koko was never able to have offspring of her own, but she did adopt several cats. After asking for a kitten, she was allowed to pick one from a litter for her birthday in 1985. She named the gray-and-white cat "All Ball" and handled it gently as if it were her real baby, even trying to nurse it. She had recently received two new kittens for her 44th birthday named Ms. Gray and Ms. Black.

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