Weird History Readers Share The Most Controversial Pop Culture Moments They Remember As Kids

Voting Rules
Vote up the pop culture controversies that would still make waves today.

There are some events in your childhood that you just can't forget. Even if you weren't old enough to understand the context surrounding the controversial moments or didn't actually witness them, the shock and outrage they caused in the people around you create prominent photographic memories in your brain. 

We asked Weird History readers to share the most controversial pop culture moments they remembered as kids, and the responses brought us right back to the events as they unfolded. From singers like Madonna and Sinead O'Connor providing shocking experiences on the air to television episodes and news broadcasts that left viewers stunned, this list features pop culture events of our time that shook the nation. 


  • When Selena Was Killed By The President Of Her Fan Club
    Video: YouTube

    From Facebook Commenter Syra Nichols:

    When Selena was murdered.

    Context: At only 23 years old, Tejano vocalist Selena quickly rose to stardom. In 1995, the singer had a falling out with the president of her fan club and manager of her stores, Yolanda Saldivar. 

    Because Selena's boutiques weren't bringing in the income that she and her family expected, and many fan club members complained about Saldivar's business strategies, Selena felt that it was time to part ways with Saldivar. When the duo met on March 31, 1995, so that Saldivar could surrender the remaining business documents, Saldivar assassinated the star. 

  • When Ozzy Osbourne Bit Off The Head Of A Bat
    Video: YouTube

    From Facebook Commenter Kathryn Dunn:

    When Ozzy Osbourne bit off the head of a bat!

    The Prince of Darkness was well-known for his devilish persona: before he started his solo career, his band Black Sabbath helped cause the “Satanic Panic” of the 1970s. 

    After Osbourne broke away from the band, he continued to play on his dark reputation. It was 1982, and at the time, fans often brought things to throw on stages at rock concerts. However, any animals that made it on the set were usually made of rubber - not living, breathing organisms. 

    When Osbourne saw the bat thrown by 17-year-old fan Mark Neal hit the Des Moines stage on January 20, he picked it up and immediately put it in his mouth, assuming it wasn't real. The rock star later admitted: 

    Immediately, though, something felt wrong. Very wrong. For a start, my mouth was instantly full of this warm, gloopy liquid, with the worst aftertaste you could ever imagine… I could feel it staining my teeth and running down my chin. Then the head in my mouth twitched… I didn’t just go and eat a… bat, did I?

  • When Marlon Brando Protested During His Oscar Acceptance Speech For 'The Godfather'
    Video: YouTube

    From Facebook Commenter Lisa Lenke Sousa

    [Marlon Brando's Oscar acceptance speech for The Godfather] was very controversial at the time. Although this lady is genuinely graceful, how she calmly rejected the award and continued with her speech after booing is genuinely an incredible feat. This was way ahead of its time. Very well handled and poised.

    Context: In 1973, Marlon Brando sent a young Apache actress on stage to protest how Native Americans were depicted on the big screen. Brando won the Academy Award for Best Actor but sent Sacheen Littlefeather to the stage in his place. 

    Dressed in traditional native clothing, the actress alerted the audience that Brando had denied his award. As the audience booed, Littlefeather continued her speech as planned. As she spoke, producers threatened to arrest her as John Wayne had to be physically held back from bombarding the stage. Weeks earlier, native activists had begun an occupation at Wounded Knee in South Dakota, which the actress credited for Brando's decision. 

    Fifty years after the event, the Academy issued Littlefeather a formal apology. 

  • When Kanye West Ruined Taylor Swift's VMA Acceptance Speech
    Video: YouTube

    From Facebook Commenter Katie Parnell:

    This will show you how young I am but, Kanye West jumping on stage to ruin Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech. 

    During the early minutes of the 2009 VMAs, hosts announced that Taylor Swift had won her only nomination of the night, Best Video by a Female Artist for her song, “You Belong With Me.” While Swift had benefitted from a successful year, Beyoncé Knowles had swept the VMA nomination lists with her hit, “(Single Ladies) Put a Ring On It.” 

    As Swift walked to the stage to give her acceptance speech, most assumed that Knowles would have her time later on in the show. Most everyone but Kanye West. As Swift graciously began her acceptance speech, West came onstage and interrupted: 

    Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish… But Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!

    Later reports from the show's producer, Van Toffler, state that the fiasco ended with both women crying backstage. When Beyoncé won the Video Of The Year award, she asked Swift to join her on the stage so she could finish her interrupted speech. 

    Twitter went wild over the scandalous content, even evoking comments from President Obama, calling West “a jack*ss.”

  • When The Sitcom 'Maude' Showed Its Titular Character Deciding To Have An Abortion
    Video: YouTube

    From Facebook Commenter Cameron Brown:

    Ironically, Maude getting an abortion. I was pretty young, but, my mom went nuts over that episode. That’s what I remember.

    Though New York legalized abortion in 1970, the United States wouldn't adopt the ruling of Roe v. Wade until 1973. When writers for Maude learned of a possible prize for comedy shows that addressed population control, they eventually settled on a storyline where Maude, who had a grown daughter and a grandchild, would have an abortion. 

    At the time, abortions weren't discussed on public television. The episode featured a 47-year-old Maude who was pro-choice but was struggling with the idea of having an abortion herself. After the characters in the scene discussed why she hadn't used other birth control options, her husband and her daughter supported her and helped Maude make the decision. 

  • When Sinead O'Connor Ripped Up A Picture Of The Pope On 'SNL'
    Video: YouTube

    From Facebook Commenter Tania Arruda:

    Sinéad O'Connor tearing the photo of the pope in half while performing on SNL.

    Considering what the church did to women and children throughout history in Ireland … she was too right - but sadly the world wasn't aware, and she suffered greatly for that political statement.

    Context: Sinéad O'Connor ripped apart a picture of the pope during her 1992 Saturday Night Live performance to protest abuse in the Catholic church. The artist was ahead of her time, as the pope didn't publicly address the religious institution's issues until 2001. For her actions, O'Connor was banned from NBC, publicly mocked by Madonna, booed off of stages at concerts, and even attacked with eggs outside of the SNL studios directly after her performance.