Talented, but loathsome: The celebrities we love to hate

We may be jealous of their fame and riches, and we don't really detest anyone. But, honestly, brilliant or not, Ronaldo does irritate rather. Let us know who annoys you at the bottom of the page

Modern life is filled with moral dilemmas for which Aristotle just cannot prepare us. Whether to claim expenses for that bath plug? That moat? Is it wrong to steal your neighbour's wireless connection if your neighbour throws fox muck in your garden? And how can one justify loathing people with more talent than oneself? (You're just jealous, aren't you?)

This conundrum came to a head last week with the record £80m sale of Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. Ronaldo, of course, is a great at football but knows it, and shows us he knows it. You know you want to hate him. The best most of us (apart from Man U fans, until last week, anyway) can manage is respect through gritted teeth.

There are many people like Ronaldo: infuriatingly talented while being hard to like. Admiration does not equal adoration. Models don't count, unless being thin is seen as a talent (and in a right-thinking world it is not). Which makes this an area unusually low on women. Are women we hate necessarily untalented? Are they talented in areas that make them cuddly and warm? Are we just grateful that they are not Kate Moss?

Hating people who are good at things is something we have to live with. We know if we met them, we'd probably be charmed, but until then, it remains fundamental to life itself. As the IoS Loathsome List shows, we need Cartesian principles to explain the dilemma: I hate, therefore I am.

Lady Gaga

The song-writing genius who came up with 'Poker Face' and made the lyrics 'wo – oh oh oh oh – oh' the catchiest electropop hook known to man appears to be sullen, arrogant and woefully underdressed. Let's face it, Wagner was probably no life and soul of the party either. But at least he wore trousers.

Jimmy Carr

Making jokes about other peoples' appearance is all very well, Mr Carr, but people who look like funny little ventriloquists' dummies with no necks shouldn't throw stones. Frustratingly, though, he is funnier than the unrelated Alan Carr, who is much the nicer person. There is no justice in the comedy world.

Jonathan Ross

Though his interview technique is the verbal equivalent of creeping up to pretty girls on the street and sticking his hand up their skirts, many people find Ross amusing. His £18m three-year deal – making him 'worth 1,000 BBC journalists' – is another source of friction – especially among BBC journalists.

Julie Burchill

Sharp writing notwithstanding, the newspaper columnist-turned-novelist does herself no favours by never having a nice thing to say about anyone. She largely gets away with it because, supposedly, her prejudices mirror those of her readers, but that doesn't make her any easier to love. Not that she cares.

Zadie Smith

The poor wunderkind author of 'White Teeth' is 'depressed by the cookie-cutter process of contemporary publishing', bored by literary superstardom and told the Orange Prize judges to 'kiss my behind'. If only she didn't write so well she wouldn't win all these awful prizes.

Russell Brand

Some men are charming, funny and dynamite in the sack; others laugh the ladies into bed. Brand must be a funny guy, judging by the procession of lovelies through his grubby sheets, some of whom he then exposes to ridicule on national radio. Chivalry isn't dead; it just needs a good wash.

Anna Wintour

The fur-championing high priestess of US fashion inspires admiration and terror in equal measure. You can't knock her influence, but how can you like someone who is said to hate fat people? How dare she tell Oprah Winfrey she'd never make US Vogue's cover unless she lost some weight?

Gordon Ramsay

Sure, the man can cook. If he can be bothered, that is. No, the crude-mouthed celebrity chef would far rather insult television presenters than actually whisk up your dinner. Australia's Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, surely spoke for many when he called Ramsay a 'new form of lowlife'. No one likes a bully, Gordon.

Simon Cowell

The kingpin of pop – on both sides of the Pond – is nobody's fool. Who would have thought talent shows could be so compelling? But there's straight talking and then there's just plain nasty. It's hard to forget the 'American Idol' auditionee who, mocked for her braces, later committed suicide.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The epitome of the loathsome genius, Ronaldo is a legend on the pitch and legendarily off-putting off it. Preening, arrogant, a serial dater of vacuous blondes and incapable of looking after a £200,000 Ferrari without trashing it. A man of whom it can only be said: it's a good job you're pretty.

Martin Amis

A novelist so exceptionally gifted that one suspects he has sold his soul at the crossroads, Amis is nonetheless a bit of a git as a human being. A former girl- friend recently detailed his frequent philandering in print, crediting him with a 'Byronic magnetism' that must just elude the camera's lens.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Although Gwynie and husband Chris Martin ought to appear together (because neither has enough personality to make up an entry on their own), they are devilishly successful. Perhaps an elaborate form of hypnotism is going on.

Mariah Carey

You can't argue with her fans: the pop star has had more US number ones than any other artist and globally has more than 200 million album sales under her designer belt. It's her legendary divaness that gets our goat. Plus, who with any smidgen of a conscience could possibly fly their dog by private jet?

Madonna

Turning up in New York with $35 and asking a cabbie to 'take me to the centre of everything': cool. Multiple reinventions and becoming the most powerful woman in pop: supercool. Using this power to divorce our boys, buy African babies and promote Kabala: so, so not cool, Madonna. A feminist icon gone rotten.

Cherie Booth

Another power couple in the clever-but-nasty category, Cherie and Tony Blair have undoubtedly used their fierce intelligence to get to the top. Ms Booth is a top QC, but has had difficulty arguing her way out of an embarrassing spot. Just like Millwall FC, no one likes them and they don't care.

Liam Gallagher

In his Oasis heyday, the obnoxious, foul-mouthed frontman was as famous for his fights as his music. To some he was a classic rock'n'roll star; to others a childish, arrogant lout who picked fights with anyone he didn't like the look of, from his brother, Noel, to fans who'd paid money to see him sing. Talented, sure, but is he likeable? No way.

And not to be exclusive... Completely loathsome but also talentless

Just in case you think it is unfair to pick on the talented just because they are loathsome, here is a list of people who are appalling without the redeeming quality of talent. Disagree or think there's someone worse?

Jack Tweed Jade Goody's husband won sympathy for his bride dying of cancer, but for their wedding he was out of prison on licence after attacking a 16-year-old with a golf club and had been accused of infidelity by Goody.

Peaches Geldof It's not what you know, but who you know. But even then, you're still meant to know something.

Blake Fielder-Civil What on earth Amy Winehouse ever saw in this trilby-sporting, justice perverting, bar-manager-beating hanger-on is one of life's great mysteries.

Amanda Holden She's the saucy voice of sympathy on Britain's Got Talent. But why Les Dennis's ex should sit in judgement of others, Simon Cowell alone knows.

Peter Andre Most of us would settle for a number one single and move on. Not Pete. His stint on I'm a Celebrity..., public marriage to Jordan and public split from Jordan has given him a new lease of life.

Kerry Katona Briefly a member of all-girl pop group Atomic Kitten, Ms Katona is now famous for, er, shopping at Iceland and falling apart in public.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?