Monday 19 August 2019

From jade eggs to Brexit: the most outlandish claims made by celebrities

Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow speaks on stage at the 2018 Girlboss Rally at Magic Box on April 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Girlboss)
Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow speaks on stage at the 2018 Girlboss Rally at Magic Box on April 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Girlboss)
Lady Gaga (Jennifer Graylock/PA)
Elon Musk (Brian Lawless/PA)
Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Alexandra Burke (Tim Whitby/PA Images)
British prime minister Boris Johnson. Photo: PA Wire

Sheena McGinley

From politicians to American presidents, from superstar singers to A-list actors, isn’t everyone partial to flagrant falsehoods?

Last Thursday, US President Donald Trump announced the following during a rally in Cincinnati: “The things we’re doing in our country today, there’s never been anything like it. We will be ending the AIDS epidemic shortly in America, and curing childhood cancer very shortly.” Although, he is delivering on his wall, so anything is possible in this upside-down world we currently inhabit.

He may take it to the Nth level, but Trump is by no means the first US politician to pledge the sun, moon and stars. In 2012, Newt Gingrich promised a whole Moon Colony by 2020. In 1904, then-president Teddy Roosevelt promised not to run again (he did), while in 1928, Herbert Hoover suggested there would be “a chicken in every pot”.

George W Bush sought to bring the American people futuristic ticket systems post 911, saying: “I am here to make an announcement that this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out of Ronald Reagan Airport.” Hey, at least he said “airport”. As for the now-infamous, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”, made under oath in 1998 by then-president Bill Clinton, (which resulted in his impeachment) — well, that obviously pales immeasurably when it comes to the bumper stickers repeatedly uttered by the sitting president (see our Trump panel, below right).

Considering that former US special counsel Robert Mueller’s latest grilling in front of Congress resulted in the suggestion that Trump could be indicted once he leaves office, The Donald will most likely make it his mission not to leave the White House. Ever. Consider it akin to that dystopian alternate reality Marty McFly is subjected to in Back To The Future II, when Biff turns the local courthouse into his Pleasure Paradise casino, before using it as a political launchpad for power with more than authoritative undertones.

America’s questionable campaign promises (and equally questionable political system) aside, it’s not exactly revelatory to say politicians on this side of the pond aren’t also partial to unfounded promises and spurious claims.

British prime minister Boris Johnson. Photo: PA Wire
British prime minister Boris Johnson. Photo: PA Wire

In November of 2010, our then-government was insisting Ireland wasn’t engaged in talks with the IMF regarding a bailout when there was photographic evidence to the contrary — including many snaps of then-IMF head Ajai Chopra walking down Dame Street towards Central Bank.

However, even that flagrant  fibbing pales when compared to Anne Widdecombe recently likening Brexit to the emancipation of slaves (without a hint of irony) or Boris Johnson’s Brexit bus. He does love a big red bus, does Boris.

Back in 2016, he had this emblazoned across the side of a double-decker bus: “We send the EU £350 Million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead.” Boris’s big red bus was instrumental in the Leave campaign (among other things; do watch documentary The Great Hack, if you haven’t already). Why wouldn’t the people of the UK want a better NHS system? Imagine what an extra £350m a week would do to help waiting times?! Only it wasn’t £350m a week... it’s more like £350m a year.

Whether it was to deliberately mislead, or whether it was the mother of all typos, one thing is certain — the UK’s sitting Prime Minister really, REALLY loves buses. So much so that he finds painting them on the side of cardboard boxes a form of relaxation.

During an interview with Talk Radio in the UK in June of this year, Johnson said: “I have a thing where I make models of buses. What I make is, I get old, I don’t know, wooden crates, and I paint them. It’s a box that’s been used to contain two wine bottles, right? It will have a dividing thing. And I turn it into a bus. So I put passengers — I paint the passengers enjoying themselves on a wonderful bus. Low carbon.”

Perhaps Boris does paint buses to relax. Or perhaps he was just attempting to change Google searches pertaining to his name alongside the term ‘bus’. Either way, a private prosecutor by the name of Marcus J Ball wants Johnson to stand trial over his £350m Brexit claims and is currently seeking approval from the UK Supreme Court.

Base reality

While this entire feature could be devoted to “things politicians have said”, they are but a portion of people in power who randomly say, well, stuff. The next main offenders on the list of lies include CEOs of global tech companies, such as Elon Musk.

Musk — the mind behind Tesla, SpaceX and The Boring Company, and a man rarely seen without a headset mic — has come across as such humdingers as “My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku [Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment] than fail”; “I’m not an alien... but I used to be one”; and “Oh, btw, I’m building a cyborg dragon.”

One of his most famously outlandish claims thus far has to be “You’re already a cyborg. Most people don’t realise you’re already a cyborg.” What makes us already cyborgs? Our ability to access information on our phones. If you have found Musk’s joie de vivre intoxicating, he’s reportedly looking for a mate, as he’s been single since 2016. Of dating, he said in 2012: “I would like to allocate more time to dating, though. I need to find a girlfriend. That’s why I need to carve out just a little more time. I think maybe even another five to 10 — how much time does a woman want a week? Maybe 10 hours? That’s kind of the minimum? I don’t know.”

Lady Gaga (Jennifer Graylock/PA)
Lady Gaga (Jennifer Graylock/PA)


Moving from Musk to the more fantastical realm inhabited by superstar singers, A-list actors and Steven Seagal, the world of celebrity is awash with outrageous claims.

Well, in their collective defence, actors spout the words of others for a living, so lying is their lifeblood. However, when a sincere-looking sort such as Gwyneth Paltrow suggests investing in jade eggs to store in your unmentionables on the basis that she runs her own ‘natural health company’, people are going to believe her.

It was claimed that the nephrite jade eggs, which are “made exclusively” for Goop and still available for purchase via the website for US$66, could “balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, prevent uterine prolapse, and increase bladder control.” Conversely, gynaecologists said inserting such an egg (which come “pre-drilled for string add-on”; with “unwaxed dental floss” being the “string” of choice) was not recommended and, in fact, dangerous.

In September of last year, Goop reached a settlement with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, agreeing to pay the US$145,000 fine and to reimburse any customer who bought the product that wanted a refund.

Gwyneth isn’t the only one.

Here are but a few of the celebs who have, facetiously or under the influence of ignorance, made fantastical assertions...

Alexandra Burke: In 2012, after spending time in America songwriting, the X Factor winner decided to “be the first person” to bring the phrase “elephant in the room” to the UK in the form of song.

James Blunt: Seemingly, we would have had World War III already if it wasn’t for Beautiful singer James Blunt. Speaking with the BBC in 2010, Blunt said he refused an order to attack Russian troops when he was a British soldier in Kosovo.

Steven Seagal: In addition to being the first  foreigner to ever open a dojo in Japan, which  resulted in him being “deified”, Seagal also claims that he was a legitimate law enforcement officer for two decades in the outskirts of New Orleans, around the time he was appearing in movies such as Under Siege. Funnily enough, the Louisiana police department can’t find any record of him working for them.

Lady Gaga: Gaga by name and undoubtedly Gaga in persona, the singer has come out with several nuggets, but this assertion regarding a future ‘Bubble Break’ has to be the best: “How wonderfully memorable 30 years from now, when they say, ‘Do you remember Gaga and her bubbles?’ Because, for a minute, everybody in that room will forget every sad, painful thing in their lives, and they’ll just live in my bubble world.”

In a world steeped in “fake news”, online advertising targeting the “persuadable” and therefore altering free-will, plus the purchasing of crystal eggs “for your yoni”, this hack will soon be hightailing it to a vacant hilltop, far, far away...


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