Making a Mess: Spit-gate and Our Ever-Increasing Participation in Celebrity Drama

There’s been insane quality in the celebrity gossip room for the past few weeks, hasn’t it? At this very moment, we could be coming down from any number of dramas, or all at once: this Funny girlLeah Michele Things, Leonardo DiCaprio and Camila Morrone‘s breakup (and his subsequent association with model Gigi Hadid), the don’t worry darling Press tour chaos and the perceived tension between the Fab Four – three royal Brits and one American – at a very somber time. We are currently in the middle of one Adam Levin DM’ing scandal and subsequent celebrity comments on it. And those are just the big storylines that have gotten us talking and talking over the past few weeks.

The funniest kind of gossip — gossip, which I define as high-profile individuals in high-tension, low-consequence situations — is apparently back. The best recent example of such a thing is also when Cap Feldstein debuted on Broadway in a Funny girl reprisals and then left before her contract expired, which had already ended six months earlier than originally planned. Michele, who wanted the role with an easily mocked kind of seriousness, shared that she would be replacing Feldstein. That was something of a shock. Firstly, because people who really, really want something and who have already been denied it before, rarely prevail. And secondly, because she has already had to deal with allegations of racist behavior and general terror on the set by actors Joy. (She apologized for her actions at the time and has since debuted to multiple standing ovations, contracted COVID, and is now back on stage receiving even more standing ovations.)

At first I thought this type of gossip was back because personal events are back. Seems logical. Gossip got personal in the pandemic years. Provincial dramas found traction in media more intimate than a tabloid, such as podcasts and newsletters. But now the usual schedule of awards and premieres and festivals that have long set the rhythm of Hollywood, and therefore the rhythm of the gossip cycle, is back and they overlap and block the tracks. This month we’ve already seen the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals, New York Fashion Week and the Emmys. It’s just a numbers game, I thought.

But more events can’t fully explain the tenor of all of these converging narratives and the sheer level of obsession that has inspired some online. Then something happened in Venice that I think clarified what’s going on: this spitting video.

To recap, a video from the Venice premiere surfaced don’t worry darling where this was suggested Harry Styles spit on something Chris Kiefer‘hit. These actors are both in the film, and the film had already seen days of drama bending. The proof: In the short clip, Styles leans over Pine to push down the theater seat and sit down. Pine is already seated when this happens, and just as Styles begins to sit, Pine looks into his lap and smiles in a way that tells him, “You have to shit me.” (The counter-theory, in its mundaneness, is deeply plausible: Pine momentarily lost his sunglasses and, like you and me and everyone we know, discovered them in his seat.)

The noise grew so loud that Pine’s team was forced to flat out denial: “This is a ridiculous story – a complete fabrication and the result of a weird online illusion that is clearly deceptive and allows for foolish speculation. Just to be clear, Harry Styles didn’t spit on Chris Pine. There is nothing but respect between these two men, and any other suggestion is a blatant attempt to create drama that just doesn’t exist.”

The spit obviously didn’t exist, but that didn’t matter: it was a fun day to be on the internet. Well, good drama is characterized by really passionate days online where people on TikTok, Twitter and the other forums are firing together towards a common goal. Everyone seems to contribute to an overarching goal of pulling apart what’s happening right before our eyes and cracking their jokes. The more boring the better, almost. We can watch things that at first glance seem as inconspicuous as possible – a seated man, for example – over and over again until we see absolute chaos.

I wonder how much the events of Johnny Deppbelongs to amber Defamation lawsuits have paved the way for them Treasure Chaos of the press tour. The kind of internet analysis at work during that courtroom drama earlier this summer certainly looks a lot like interpretations of what happened in Venice. During the process, the bunk science of body language analysis, long popular on YouTube and Facebook, migrated to other mediums, namely TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. There was one clip in particular that predicted how the spitting video played out: Anti-Heard viewers argued she snorted cocaine while testifying about Depp’s alleged abuse during their marriage. Some people who only suggested it encouraged more and more people to take it as fact, even if a basic level of mental reasoning is required to refute such a claim. With both the spitting and the snorting, viewers were simply seeing things that aren’t there.

The alleged spit is the most obvious sign that some sort of collective confirmation bias is at work, as if our desire to witness a little interpersonal grist between two adult males creates the phantom saliva. Most of the people I’ve posted about it on Twitter did so in total jest, as if commenting on the mess that seemed to enshroud the press launch Treasure. But it is noteworthy that Pine’s camp was the one that issued the comprehensive statement. “Sources close to Styles” simply said, “That’s not true.” Styles must be so used to this kind of Zapruder-like analysis that his team didn’t bother to comment on fans making things up that weren’t present in the star’s videos.

The actor, a former One Direction member, has been plagued for years by a once-gleeful fan theory that claims he has a secret relationship with his former bandmate Louis Tomlinson. The theory, known as “Larry Stylinson,” a portmanteau of their names, descended into something more malevolent and paranoid when fans began attacking those who expressed disbelief in the theory, as well as the mother of Tomlinson’s child. As Kaitlyn Tiffany, author of Everything I Need I Get From You: How Fangirls Created the Internet As We Know It, enrolled That Atlantic Around the Depp trial, Larry Stylinson and the anti-Heard movement are just two examples of so many where fan culture has become vicious about things they just can’t know.

Look no further than Megan Markle and Prince Harry do… nothing at all. Body language ‘experts’ are spending their day in the sun as the couple return to England for events surrounding the Queen’s funeral. It means that Meghan Markle held Prince Harry’s hand in a family procession after the death of his grandmother all about their attitude, their marriage, their purpose, rather than what holding hands actually means: basically nothing.

So the general chaos of Harry and Meghan making anything public or that Treasure Press tour or Lea Michele’s masterpiece Funny girl The rise is perhaps less the product of some more public glitz and more a sign of where we all are in our online journey together. What exactly went wrong Funny girl and Treasure and even with DiCaprio and Morrone is as good as one can theorize. And into that vacuum flows a hitherto endless amount of speculation.

Thankfully, for the most part, these various brouhahas are still feeling light-hearted. In case of Treasure and funny girl, At the very least, the core of the jokes is whether or not a bunch of famous people enjoyed working together on their jobs and whether or not they acted childishly towards one another. It’s mild compared to what we experienced earlier this summer. What’s inevitably true, however, is that we’re hungry for this stuff, and as long as celebs give us crumbs, we’re going to eat — and eat and eat. Making a Mess: Spit-gate and Our Ever-Increasing Participation in Celebrity Drama

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