Celebrity Gossip has a QAnon issue
It’s fun chatting about celebrities because you don’t know them personally, so you can’t hurt their feelings or directly ruin their lives. The idea that celebrity gossip can be dangerous is silly. For example, let’s say I told the woman who cuts my hair (whom I always try to entertain) that Jay-Z allegedly threatened to have Chris Brown murdered because Chris Brown continues to pretend to be in the Illuminati, and Jay-Z is often associated with the Illuminati, and Jay-Z doesn’t want anyone to think he’ll ever date Chris Brown even though they were both in the same centuries-old secret society, which they are not. No one on the planet could be harmed by this hypothetical exchange with the woman who cuts my hair. It’s just very funny!
Or maybe it’s no longer true. Perhaps celebrity gossip has a different character now, amid relentless concerns about misinformation and conspiratorial thinking. We are in an epistemological crisis, intelligent people tell me, so one has to wonder if the habit of circulating possibly invented information about famous people and their secret lives contributes anything precisely. Reading and sharing gossip was a blind escape. Now it seems to come with responsibility.
Earlier this month, BuzzFeed NewsKatie Notopoulos shared concerns from longtime fans of the anonymous and omniscient blogger Enty, who runs a popular blog of blind articles called Crazy days and nights. Some have apparently been disturbed by the site’s recent gossip about Bill Gates, and others alleging Hollywood stars are participating in a “rape club.” “It’s really disturbing to see this right-wing conspiracy theory bullshit popping up in the gossip,” a former fan told Notopoulos. But according to the story, “Gossip fans and QAnoners share a core belief: that behind closed doors, celebrities do unspeakable things.”
The idea that Enty was drawn into the QAnon conspiracy theory had been circulating for some time. (PajibaKayleigh Donaldson of Kayleigh Donaldson called his site “QAnon Central” in May.) Enty started writing in 2006, and many of his blind articles have been frightening and impossible to prove; there’s a lot of murder and Satanism, and it’s once had a three-part story about a leading actor buying huge chunks of fresh fish, then wrapping them up and throwing them in a public toilet. Enty also took an interest in some of the same famous people who fascinate QAnon enthusiasts, for example Swedish DJ Avicii, who conspiracy theorists say was murdered due to his knowledge of a trafficking ring. children.
But that is only part of Enty’s offerings. He writes standard gossip about cheating, drug use, and embarrassing incidents much more often, and he’s never endorsed the idea that Democratic politicians and Hollywood celebrities are blood-drinking pedophiles who deserve to be. executed. When I spoke with Enty recently, he suggested that readers can now just see his style of celebrity gossip in a different light, given their cultural immersion in right-wing conspiracy theories. “I had written the same stuff long before QAnon existed,” he said, “but now that QAnon exists, it looks like QAnon.” For example, he published blind articles on the NXIVM cult, in which women were stigmatized and labeled as slaves, long before its leaders were charged with sex trafficking in 2018. “If I had to write this now , I think people would say, “Wow, he’s gone Q.”
Enty described most of what he publishes as “things the tabloids wouldn’t do now but would have done 10 years ago.” He noted an industry-wide shift that occurred when celebrities started using Instagram and other social platforms to take power back from paparazzi and journalists, leaving outlets such as Us weekly and People play nice and beg for access crumbs. The tastes of the young audience who grew up in the celebrity gossip environment that followed can be manic and unpredictable. The beloved and participatory DeuxMoi Instagram account, which began posting at the start of the pandemic and now has over a million followers, often reports celebrity “sightings” without an interesting context, or posts articles if bland that they must come from publicists. Meanwhile, on TikTok, the red thread runs out of control: It’s been an entire season combing Justin Bieber’s Instagram posts and music videos for clues to his possible long-standing victimization at the hands of a child sex trafficking ring; The platform is also home to the second coming of an old Tumblr conspiracy theory about a former member of boy group One Direction, who is said to be secretly married to another former member of that group, and also not his real father. son, who could be a child actor, but it was once believed to be a plastic doll.
These things don’t seem so benign and silly as they could be at another time. For a while, I was following an Instagram account that was obsessed with proving that Zayn Malik, another former member of One Direction, wasn’t really the father of model Gigi Hadid’s baby. During her pregnancy, commentators on this account said they hoped she would miscarry. I’ve also spent a lot of time on Tumblr finding out which wives of actors are High Priestesses in Satanic Cults and whether a beloved actor owns a secret apartment on the Isle of Wight that may or may not be overrun by freemasons. This is all nonsense, but again, the comments hint at what it does to some people’s worldviews. When freelance musician Mitski was accused, without proof, of keeping a child slave in her college dormitory, Tumblr users accused each other of being too cowardly to admit Mitski deserved to be “canceled.” It all revolved around Tumblr for weeks as drama and entertainment, and Mitski was ultimately pushed to make a statement denying the story.
Light celebrity gossip is always here to be found. Personally, I look for it in email newsletters: Hunter Harris ‘Hung Up, for example, indulges in obsessive questions about topics like the location of Martin Scorsese’s glasses, while Allie Jones’ Gossip Time elegantly surprises famous people in obvious lies. Gossip can also be productive, as it provides a way to talk about the cultural significance of celebrities, question PR narratives, and convey information that could be confirmed with a little reporting work. Aluminum hat gossip is also sometimes right. Britney Spears’ dad once denounced the #FreeBritney mob as conspiracy theorists, but when that drama came to a head last winter, their vigilant note-taking seemed premonitory and compassionate, as opposed to cruelty and at the vicious judgment of the same woman years earlier. , when so many people relished its public disintegration.
Gossip isn’t broke, exactly, but it’s in a moment of moral panic: If there is a rumor of blood, then it must be QAnon! Granted, there is too much speculation around gossip – both the boring kind and the wild and scary kind – and too many people are sharing it, many of which have unclear motives. But celebrity gossip readers have always had to differentiate between rumors that are just entertaining and those that could escalate (while eliminating those that are just boring). Before QAnon, they had to do the mental work of making these distinctions for themselves, and they had to set their own standards for the information they conveyed. Now it’s easier to sort this information into compartments – bad or good, Q or not. It can lead to another form of paranoia, however: when you’re so afraid of seeing dangerous misinformation, you start to see it everywhere.