It’s no secret that bad behavior is a little idolized in celebrities — just take a look at the tabloids in the checkout aisle and you’ll see scandals plastered across at least a few front pages without fail. We expect our celebrities to struggle and have problems. A dirty truth is that part of the enjoyment of celebrity gossip comes from seeing someone fall from so high up.
But to what extent do we as a culture turn a blind eye to celebrities that get into trouble? Do we as a culture let the "fun" of seeing famous people struggle influence the way they are treated by our justice system? Here’s four celebrities that have gotten off reasonably scot free from their various scandals — which begs the question: if they weren’t famous, what would have happened to them?
1. Jennifer Lawrence:
Okay, no one would really call J-Law a troubled celebrity (at least, not yet). She’s riding on a wave of goodwill after her recent Best Actress Oscar win, she’s the star of a huge franchise, and she’s hilarious. Recently, pictures of her smoking what seems to be marijuana have surfaced on websites, but somehow that just has served to make her image even cooler. Although the photos were all over, no one seemed to bat an eye. But say she hadn’t just won an Oscar? In Florida, which has some of the toughest possession laws in the U.S., marijuana possession of 20 grams or less is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one-year imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.
2. Amanda Bynes:
It’s a long ways from the days of The Amanda Show on Nickelodeon. 2012 was a rough year for Bynes, who had some serious troubles with her car. It took six tickets and three alleged hit-and-runs before the actress got her license revoked. But before that, although she was pulled over for driving with a suspended license, she merely got a verbal warning. For all the rest of us, driving in California with a license suspended for reckless driving means possible jail time and a minimum fine of $300.
3. Shia LaBeouf:
The star of Transformers and Indiana Jones has been in several public fights, and in 2008 was arrested for drunk driving. He’s also been cited for smoking, although the charges were dropped. Nevertheless, he’s still getting movie roles (he recently starred in the The Company You Keep with Robert Redford), although his recent feud with Alec Baldwin might make other actors think twice about working with LaBeouf next.
4. Lindsay Lohan:
Unfortunately, LiLo is a standard on any list of troubled celebrities. Her drug and alcohol problems have led to various warnings, arrests, and jail time. While she hasn’t exactly gotten off scot free — I think the damage to her reputation and career is definitely irreversible at this point — on the way down she certainly seemed to get a few easy breaks. After several arrests for driving under the influence in 2007, she was sentenced to a day of jail time — but spent just 84 minutes in a Los Angeles County jail. The sheriff maintained that jail overcrowding allowed him to shorten her stay.