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On July 23, 2011, the world was rocked by the news that British singer Amy Winehouse had died.
She was just 27 years old, and alcohol poisoning was determined to be her cause of death following an inquest.
Amy had battled with alcohol and drug abuse throughout her career, and in various interviews also admitted to struggling with self-harm, depression, and eating disorders.
She had stints in rehab before her death and was hospitalized in 2007 due to drug use.
Amy was believed to have overcome her drug addiction in 2008, saying in a 2010 interview: “I literally woke up one day and was like, 'I don't want to do this any more.’”
However, her dependency on alcohol continued to be a problem and ultimately led to her death.
Amy’s very open struggle with addiction often led to her being ridiculed by the public as well as in the media, with videos of her seemingly under the influence being circulated.
In fact, comedian Zoe Lyons’ distasteful one-liner about Amy Winehouse self-harming was declared the funniest joke of the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe in a public vote.
And just weeks after her death, TV network Comedy Central was forced to apologize after an old episode of Live at the Apollo, which poked fun at Amy and suggested that she was going to die soon, accidentally aired.
Amy continued to be the butt of the joke even after she died, with distasteful comments flooding the internet. But the jibes weren’t just being made by unknown, online trolls.
Just three months after her death, Neil Patrick Harris and his husband, David Burtka, attracted criticism when they displayed “The Corpse of Amy Winehouse” at their Halloween party buffet.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his now-husband, Justin Mikita, were guests at the party and Justin shared a photo of the platter to Twitter at the time.
The quickly-deleted tweet read: “Look who showed up @ActuallyNPH & @GourmetMD’s Halloween party last night. Looking good.”
The disturbing photo showed a gory depiction of a rotting and bloodied corpse, complete with Amy’s iconic beehive hairdo, and a glimpse at her tattoos.
In case there was any doubt over who the dish was supposed to represent, a handwritten description that had been placed beside the food read: “The Corpse of Amy Winehouse.”
Detailing what it was made out of, the note continued in parenthesis: “Beef ribs, pulled pork, chicken sausage in a spicy BBQ sauce.”
While the plate was ultimately a meat platter, many mistakenly thought that the grotesque display was a cake, and referred to it as such in their critique.
However, the controversy was quickly dismissed and neither Neil or David ever addressed their decision to serve the dish.
More than 10 years later, a writer ignited fresh backlash against the couple after tweeting about the platter.
The now-viral tweet read: “I cannot believe how many very online people over the age of 25 are just now finding out about Neil Patrick Harris’s disgusting Amy Winehouse cake…”
A second message continued: “Yea Neil Patrick Harris quite literally had a cake mimicking Amy Winehouse’s corpse for Halloween soon after she died. I’ve loathed that man ever since.”
People were shocked to hear about what Neil had done, and were even more horrified when they saw the picture of the graphic buffet plate.
Discussing Neil’s resurfaced actions on Reddit, one person wrote: “Wtf I wasn't expecting the cake to be that graphic, this is so sick.” Another said: ‘WOW. This is so wildly inappropriate. My jaw dropped.”
“What in the actual fuck!? I can’t believe I had no idea and I LOVE celebrity gossip. This is absolutely vile,” a third person commented. A fourth added: “I’m literally nauseous right now after viewing that. So wrong and in poor taste.”
“Wait what the fuck. I expected a cake with her face on it— how could ANYONE EVER think this is okay? I’m horrified,” one more wrote. “And this isn’t a joke that would be considered sick now. This is disgusting for anyone, any time. I don’t think I can look at him the same.”
Someone else said that the dish was a sign that Neil’s character is “horribly grotesque” as they wrote: “I’ve never been able to look at him the same way after this. I think it shows his real character and it’s just so horribly grotesque.”
Another pointed out that Neil could have achieved the same Halloween shock-factor with a generic corpse, and the fact that he specifically targeted Amy made it all the more problematic.
“They could have just had a gross meat platter for Halloween, it didn’t need to have the ‘Amy’ sticker on it. Tasteless even in 2011 (a dark time in our treatment of celebrities with addiction / mental health issues for sure), but despite it being a long time ago, I really think it shows his character (and his husband’s). Mean girls vibes from both of them anyway,” they observed.
Someone else replied: “That’s what I thought: a corpse made of meat would have been gross but not actually offensive. Adding the name of someone recently deceased is what puts it over the top. Anything to be edgy, I guess.”
Others brought up more of Neil’s historic behavior, including the time he shaded actor and comedian Rachel Bloom back in 2018.
The How I Met Your Mother star had tweeted during the Tony Awards: “Who is the woman in the top hat backstage at @TheTonyAwards? [His son] Gideon remarked that she says ‘like’ and ‘oh my god’ a lot. I’m confused…”
Who is the woman in the top hat backstage at @TheTonyAwards? Gideon remarked that she says ‘like’ and ‘oh my god’ a lot. I’m confused...
In a highly-praised reply, Rachel told Neil that she was not only a huge fan of his, but they’d met several times and he’d worked closely with her husband in the past.
“I’m a big fan of yours. We’ve met numerous times and my husband, Dan Gregor, wrote for ‘How I Met Your Mother’ for 5 years. Notably, he wrote the episode where your character finally meets his father,” she said.
Rachel later told GQ that Neil’s tweet had “kind of devastated” her, especially as she’d hung out with him “very recently” at a Broadway show.
She also called out his lackluster response to her reply, which was: “Indeed! Well said. Thanks for the reminder. How was backstage?”
@Racheldoesstuff @TheTonyAwards Indeed! Well said. Thanks for the reminder. How was backstage?
“The thing he said in response wasn’t really an apology,” Rachel said.
Over on Reddit, a user said of Neil’s Amy display: “Because he's trash. Obviously not on the same level, but remember when he pretended not to know Rachel Bloom just so he could mock her on Twitter?”
“NPH has big ‘I am everyone's favorite celebrity and I am such a nice guy but in private I have a dark side and I probably don't want waiters or household staff to look me in the eye’ energy,” someone else replied.
BuzzFeed News have contacted Neil’s representative for comment.
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