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Many of us took up new ventures during the pandemic as a way of passing the time: Pinterest-inspired baking, TikTok careers, knitting, etc… One of us, however, started a viral Instagram page that has become something rather intriguing altogether.
For those unfamiliar, Gossip Girl was a hit tv-show that spanned 2008-2012. So popular was its following that a reboot was created and debuted earlier this year. In this fictional reality, ‘Gossip Girl’ was an anonymous blogger who documented the lives of New York’s richest teens. The identity of Gossip Girl remained hidden until the final episode, keeping fans guessing for five years.
The @deuxmoi instagram page was started purely out of boredom in the first lockdown of 2021 and quickly snowballed, now boasting 1.1 million followers and a line of merchandise. The 30-something woman from New York that started the account (that’s all we know of the owner, more on that later) simply put out a story asking for interesting celebrity encounters. The first tip was about Leonardo DiCaprio, and then Jonah Hill: the DMs continued to pour in. The account posts all submissions as screenshots, verbatim, via the Instagram story feature, meaning it disappears after 24 hours. And so, the real-life Gossip Girl was born: relying solely on tips sent in by strangers and the curiosity of the masses. A quick google search of the Instagram page returns a plethora of stories covering the account, from Vanity Fair to the New York Times, with the link to the popular tv show being made in almost all of them. Deuxmoi is enjoying a rather insane amount of attention, mostly concentrated in the United States where celebrity culture is arguably a little stronger than in the UK .
If you think it sounds banal and meaningless, you’d be half right: much of it is. I’ve been following the account for almost a year now and a lot of the content is mundane; Timothee Chalamet’s coffee order, Lady Gaga’s soft hands, Owen Wilson’s LA cycling routes. Every now and again, you’ll see a post about your favourite celeb and you might actually care about what perfume they use, where they hang out, or who they’ve been spotted with. Often it’s a case of skipping the stories until you spot a name you care about. I recommended the account to a couple of my friends and they didn’t engage with it in the same way I did. Of course, nothing is a please-all but the volume of information to sift through didn’t necessarily work for people who rarely use instagram anyways.
Deuxmoi has, however, broken some big news. Scarlet Johansson’s marriage to Colin Jost, Zoe Kravitz’ divorce, and the sex-scandal at the Hollywood favourite, Justin Bieber-endorsed church Hillsong. Fairly recently, it spearheaded the news surrounding the Armie Hammer scandal. Indeed, I followed the account at the time and was the first of my friends to see the messages between the ‘Call Me By Your Name’ actor and @Houseofeffie which was the impetus for a tidal wave of accusations against Hammer. Deuxmoi attempted to distance herself from the story, after news outlets cited the page as the primary source. The incident raised questions of accountability for Deuxmoi, would the owner be liable in a defamation case? The middle-(wo)man that simply reposts stories verbatim cannot bear much responsibility for the consequences of the shared information, or can she?
The account itself is private, the owner spends her mornings going through requests to follow, and her evenings in her DM’s sleuthing through submissions. The fact that the stories disappear after 24 hours makes the gossip appropriately fleeting, and somewhat exclusive. If you don’t check it, you might miss something. That’s the algorithm for much of the psychology behind social media anyway, just slightly more obvious with the case of Deuxmoi. As mentioned, however, this doesn’t exactly work for everyone. The volume of information combined with its temporary nature means that missing things can become routine, as trying to keep up gradually becomes less and less desirable. It leads to questions, at least for me, about the sustainability of online fame, or even pandemic fame more specifically. Charli D’Amelio, for instance, became the queen of TikTok almost overnight at the age of 15. To rise so quickly must have led to countless conversations about how to ensure the fame is not short-lived, which brand deals to take, what kind of products to launch etc… Meteoric fame, coupled with lockdown restrictions makes for an interesting kind of celebrity. I'm keen to know how bright Charli’s star will be shining in five years time.
The celebrities that Deuxmoi spends her time reporting on have mixed feelings regarding the internet phenomenon. The Hadid sisters both follow the account, suggesting they’re just as invested in the gossip as we are. Hailey Bieber, on the other hand, made it her mission to uncover the owners identity after a pregnancy rumour was started about her. Bieber later posted a story boasting of her triumph, writing “I feel like I just found out who Gossip Girl is”. However, it’s not the owner that uncovers the information, she only compiles and posts it. The famous people in question really ought to be trying to discover who is sending in tips. For instance, the recent Met Gala produced some interesting tips about what goes on inside the excessively exclusive event. Madison Beer was allegedly checking her twitter mentions as soon as she sat down, keen to see if she was being slandered or praised for her choice of outfit. Meanwhile, Lil Nas X was allegedly the rudest celeb at the afterparty. The afterparty, this year hosted by Rihanna, is even more private than the gala, so who of the Hollywood inner-sanctum is sending in this kind of information?
The owner of the account has been resisting all calls to reveal her identity since the start. When things really started to snowball, someone set up a Facebook group to gather intel and find out who she was once and for all. The debacle led to a month-long hiatus for Deuxmoi. She expressed her dissatisfaction with the way her anonymity was being treated, highlighting how her identity is not relevant to the information she posts; the word hypocrisy springs to mind. The invasion of privacy appears to be much more serious when she’s the victim.
There’s already an ongoing debate regarding internet anonymity, with one side calling for social media profiles to be verified against someone’s identity. The idea is to reduce the prevalence of online trolls, as well as to hold individuals accountable for hateful commentary. This would, however, be a nightmare to enforce and therefore easily loopholed. It’s an interesting discussion nevertheless, can Deuxmoi continue to stay anonymous? The original Gossip Girl didn’t.
Realistically though, who cares? It’s hard to comprehend how much people care about the lives of public figures an ocean away, whose path they will almost certainly never cross. The pandemic left a lot of room for this kind of banal entertainment, TikTok at the epicentre. Some buy into it, and a lot of people don’t. Celebrity culture is not going anywhere though, just evolving like everything else. Alas, a celebrity was recently the president of the United States. The popularity of platforms like YouTube and TikTok has made fame a DIY activity, something everyone has an equal chance of mastering.
The Gossip Girl trope was recently reworked by Shonda Rhimes into what we recognise as the Bridgerton series. This time set in the Regency era, gossip takes the form of a newspaper column, authored by the anonymous ‘Lady Whistledown’. Bridgerton enjoyed the same popularity as Gossip Girl, taking on a life of its own and imploring everyone to binge watch it in order to be a part of the conversation. The series was written only two decades ago, but accurately highlights the significance of gossip in centuries gone by.
Gossip isn’t present exclusively in the presence of social media, but rather in the absence of anything better to do. The Victorian and Regency eras were famed for it. Listening and contributing to court whispers or rural chatter was an excellent way of passing the time, keeping day-to-day life exciting. Social media is therefore not solely to blame for the obsession with seemingly boring information, people have always loved to talk. It has, however, facilitated a level of access that neither Blair Waldorf in 2006, nor Daphne Bridgerton in 1813, could have dreamt of.
The future of Deuxmoi, the real-life Gossip Girl, looks uncertain. Whether it be a lawsuit or an exposed identity, the kind of harmless fun she’s toying with cannot last for long; especially when the people she’s involved with are abundantly more powerful. Myself and the other million will continue to enjoy the gossip while it lasts, flicking through stories, trying to explain to friends how we know when Adele’s music is coming (soon, btw).