If you, like me, are a celebrity gossip fiend, then chances are you’ve spent a lot of this past year browsing the Instagram stories of Deuxmoi. At a time when even the worlds of the rich and famous seemed to come to a standstill thanks to the pandemic, the juicy and wholly unfiltered world of Deuxmoi felt like a delicious break from reality. While its origins lay in a short-lived style blog co-founded by its anonymous mistress, Deuxmoi evolved into Instagram’s go-to account for the best and weirdest of celebrity dirt, and all in the space of a few short months. Click on the Stories and you’ll find a wild array of tales, from people sharing their celebrity sightings in random locations to supposed studio executives spilling the beans on up-and-coming stars. Deuxmoi soon started breaking news. She shared a tip about Zoë Kravitz and her husband splitting and it took mere hours for her publicist to confirm the divorce to People. Now, with over 945,000 followers to their name, Deuxmoi, the self-styled ‘curators of pop culture’ are the talk of the town. As of the writing of this piece, the account shared tidbits on the best places in Atlanta to spot celebs, revealed a blind item about a B-List actor expecting a baby, and confirmed that Drake is not making a music video right now.
Blind gossip has been a major part of the celebrity ecosystem for a long time, well before Hollywood was a thing. Our current understanding of it, however, has its roots in the Golden Age of cinema, with the likes of Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, the industry’s most beloved and feared gossip hounds, steering the narratives as desired. One blind item by Hopper regarding Katharine Hepburn’s open affair with Spencer Tracy ended in Tracey kicking Hopper in the behind at one of her favorite restaurants. During the early ’90s, columnist Michael Musto wrote ‘blindies’ for the Village Voice that offered a sneak peek into New York City nightlife and the infamous club kid scene. Ted Casablanca’s old E! online column, The Awful Truth, ran for 16 years and entered gossip legend thanks to blinds on thinly veiled megastars with nicknames like Toothy Tile and Slurpa Pop-Off. Name a major gossip site or publication and the chances are they’ve got more than a few blinds out there.
Blind gossip performs a number of roles. It’s a ‘get out of libel free’ card beloved by many writers, both professional or otherwise, but it can be used altruistically. I’ve talked before about how gossip is often the language of the marginalized, a means to understand and interrogate how certain ideas and stereotypes are reinforced by the mainstream. Consider how the women of Bridgerton use gossip to circumnavigate the power structures of men, or the ways that rumors about Harvey Weinstein’s abuses were whispered about among industry underlings for decades before the big reports fully exposed him. It’s an inherently unreliable and faulty method of discourse, but it’s not as if the scales have ever been equally balanced on that front.
What Deuxmoi does differently is offer a somewhat democratized take on the blind item. It’s partway between the classic days of Gawker Stalker and a private text group with your closest friends. Anyone can submit anything, and for the most part, Deuxmoi does not discriminate. If someone posts a story about, say, having a negative experience with Henry Cavill, a whole bunch of replies will turn up offering other points of view, or sharing times they spotted Cavill in a bar (sometimes with accompanying blurry photographs), or queries about whether or not he’s currently seeing anyone. Sometimes, a fan will DM Deuxmoi to ask for info on their favorite celeb, and the account will just share every morsel they’ve received. They report, you decide?
Blind gossip invites the narrativizing of the audience. Everything is open to interpretation, even if the supposed reveal is pretty obvious. The most notable blinds are often rooted in ideas of conflicting social roles or status. The beloved heartthrob is secretly gay. America’s sweetheart is mean. The power couple hate each other. It elicits the most primal emotional responses from us and breeds further fascination.
Consider how Toothy Tile came to symbolize the systemic homophobia of Hollywood but also allowed The Awful Truth readers to feel a kind of smug superiority. Most purveyors of blinds tend to, deliberately or otherwise, position themselves as the worthier voice at the table. There was never any empathy from Casablanca over Toothy Tile’s potential emotional turmoil. The idea of him being closeted despite everyone knowing The Awful Truth was something to sneer at. This attitude has carried over to the current era of blind gossip and the often-hilarious insistence that every celebrity is secretly gay. Very little separates Toothy Tile from, say, the One Direction fans who obsess over the ‘secret love’ of Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. Such activities are often positioned as a form of progressive rhetoric, a sign of how far we’ve evolved from the days of Rock Hudson’s beard marriage. That assumption overlooks how such blinds turn an individual’s life into a game for fans to expose, as if they feel owed to their emotional journey. It doesn’t exactly encourage any of the closeted people in the entertainment world in need of support to make that leap. Who would want to do that when unverified blinds giddily goad them into performing for the masses?
It doesn’t take long for a casual blind item to slide into some seriously conspiratorial territory. Crazy Days and Nights has slowly morphed into QAnon Central, with racism and misogyny running rampant alongside the internet’s most beloved tinhatter nonsense regarding people like Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg running child sex abuse trafficking rings. Ted Casablanca’s blinds may have started with a sprinkling of truth, but he seemed to lose control over the reins after a few years of dragging them out and giving into fan furor. He really wanted to let people believe that Toothy Tile was Jake Gyllenhaal, even when it contradicted his own claims.
Crazy Days and Nights has a disclaimer at the bottom of its website declaring that ‘the site publishes rumors, conjecture, and fiction […] certain situations, characters and events portrayed in the blog are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.’ Deuxmoi’s profile says that ‘statements made on this account have not been independently confirmed. this account does not claim any information published is based in fact.’ That’s all well and good but both sites are still furthering the narratives of their choice and audiences are running wild with it. There’s not much they can do about that — although CDAN fully knows what they’re up to with their Q-adjacent bullsh*t — and the current climate seems perfectly designed for such ideas to flourish. It seems to be the main reason that John Mulaney of all people became a front-page gossip subject (he was a regular blind item favorite there.) The abdication of responsibility is a key trait of the blind item. We don’t have to be accountable for the potential poison we spread because we didn’t start the fire.
People like mysteries, and as long as we want puzzles to solve, the blind item will remain. We currently live in deeply conspiratorial times, where people see connections where there are none, and even cold hard facts cannot refute the deepest set beliefs of dangerous theories. If you read CDAN religiously, the chances are you’re happy to keep moving the goalposts. You read that disclaimer and think, ‘well, they have to say that for legal reasons, but they’re still telling the truth.’ Other blinds rely on confirmation bias. You may not believe that part about your fave being a d**k but that one about your pop culture nemesis sucking? Totally true. It has to be. Why let the truth get in the way of a good story?
Header Image Source: YouTube // The Hollywood Reporter