Over the most smothering months of the COVID-19 pandemic, that summer of 2020 when we were all stuck indoors and trying to fight off the crushing boredom, we seemed to collectively and spontaneously cling to certain pieces of entertainment. Everyone watched tiger-king, we all made sourdough starters, and we all started following DeuxMoi. The pseudonymous Instagram account started life as a fashion-focused blog before one of the two account holders asked its followers to share stories about celebrities during lockdown. Soon, DeuxMoi evolved into the home for blind gossip, celebrity encounters, and industry speculation. The account, which now has 1.3 million followers, quickly entered the pop culture lexicon and seemed to be inescapable even as we returned to ‘normal’.
The account could easily take the crown as the most followed (or at least most obsessed over) source of celebrity gossip on the internet. DeuxMoi now has a podcast, merchandise (which it plugs endlessly), and catchphrases like ‘anon plz’. The anonymous force behind it has even appeared on Ziwe’s Showtime series, albeit with their voice muffled as if they were in the witness protection program. Celebrity gossip figures have been catapulted into celebrity status before, from Perez Hilton to Lainey Lui. It’s less common to see it happen with an anonymous creator, but now DeuxMoi is releasing a novel that lightly fictionalizes their own life, and that novel has been picked up for a TV adaptation.
Greg Berlanti announced that he was adapting the book (which is co-written/ghost-written by author Jessica Goodman) for HBO Max. The set-up makes it sound like gossip-girlwith a celebrity assistant named Cricket Lopez (?) becoming a gossip insider with her Instagram account, to the point where she herself is famous enough to warrant fan speculation.
You know me. I’m a gossip maven. I’ve spent the best part of five years making it my full-time career. I think the work of celebrity gossip and what it represents in the wider culture of fame, industry, etc, is important and warrants good analysis. I can’t claim any moral high-ground on the DeuxMoi issue since I do follow the account. A lot of people do. But let’s be honest here: DeuxMoi is not a good account, it’s a messy idea to empower it via a book and TV show, and doing so will only further accelerate its downfall into conspiratorial nonsense.
I wrote before about the perils of blind gossip, a commonly used practice in celebrity reporting that almost always ends badly. It’s a tool that’s as familiar to part of entertainment reporting as puff pieces and photo editing, and one that can be utilized for good. Consider how many abusive men in the film world were the stuff of open conversations because of this kind of worldwide whispering. Deux Moi is borrowing thoroughly from that handbook, albeit on a much grander scale. The basic set-up of the account is to democratize gossip. Everyone and anyone can submit content, whether it’s a blurry photo of a celebrity they spotted in a bar or claims they have evidence that the hottest couple in Hollywood are about to divorce. The account had to start offering a more active disclaimer regarding its lack of fact-checking and editing of such submissions. They did this after it became clear that they were being trolled by some users and that they either didn’t care about this or couldn’t tell a joke from a possible fact (in one instance, they published a blind claiming that Woody Allen was going to guest-host SNL.)
DeuxMoi operates on this level as a safety net, ‘just in case’ something ends up being true, but that means you have to wade through a lot of blatant bullsh*t and conspiratorial unease (and plugs for the account’s favorite pasta sauce.) Indeed, it is this slow but evident descent into questionable rhetoric and associations that worries a lot of people who used to be thoroughly Team DeuxMoi. The podcast further amplifies unverified claims that are then theorized over by the host in ways that are silly at best and dangerous at worst. One of the podcast’s earliest guests was Enty, the force behind Crazy Days and Nights, another blind gossip site that has now evolved into QAnon Central. That site has af**king disclaimer at the bottom of its website declaring that ‘the site publishes rumours, conjecture, and fiction […] certain situations, characters and events portrayed in the blog are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.’ It’s a weak legal swerve to avoid lawsuits when you’re out here giddily claiming that major celebrities are baby sacrificing sex traffickers. Why would DeuxMoi lean into this collaboration? Partly because they often seem to have one foot in such ideas already. The Instagram account isn’t quite full tinhat but there are moments where it leans perilously close to it. Many of his former followers have called it out repeatedly for this, including the DeuxMoi Reddit page.
Blind gossip typically relies on an abdication of responsibility. Hey, I didn’t say that this was true, I’m just laying it out there and letting you, dear reader, decide. It’s not our fault if our readership has become more radicalized thanks to our irresponsibility, and now we’re leaning into that unstableness to satisfy our growing fame. DeuxMoi may smarmily claim that it’s just amplifying what people send them but they also giddily position themselves as a sort of celebrity police. In a report by Today, a DeuxMoi follower admitted that they had bought some merch and planned to wear it on a set they were working on as a crew member so that everyone ‘behaved themselves’, aware that they could soon end up on DeuxMoi for their seeming indiscretions. That’s kind of chilling, right? Especially when we know that the site posts lies, has no interest in basic fact checking, and clearly has its favorites and dislikes to cater to.
The DeuxMoi book and TV show will fictionalize the account holder and the celebrities they cover, which is probably the only way a story like this could work. I also imagine that it will be far more curated than anything they post on Instagram. I can’t see Greg Berlanti doing a season on how the heroine falls into hanging out with anti-Amber Heard accounts or people claiming that the Astroworld concert disaster happened because of links to Satanic imagery. We live in deeply conspiratorial times and further empowering such individuals who profit from blatant lies and hostilities won’t end well (hasn’t real life over the past two decades proved that enough?) Sadly, I think many of DeuxMoi’s devotees (and those of obvious liars like Crazy Days and Nights) think this is all part of the game, that celebrities are their playthings and fictionalizing their very existence is part of the deal for them. Great gossip digs beneath the surface to explore the power structures are play. DeuxMoi just wants to plug its own merch. It’s helped to further normalize the stalking of individuals for content and become famous as a result. There is certainly drama to be mined from this concept but I question how bolstering a primary source in the dehumanization of celebrities gets us anywhere good.
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