XOXO, you know you love it – the phenomenon of celebrity gossip.
Interest in celebrity gossip has existed for nearly as long as the concept of celebrities themselves. The desire to know the inner lives of those most disconnected from us, further fuels the interest in what they get up to when the cameras are not around.
It could be said that this interest stems from the fact that most of us will never achieve that level of fame, therefore we speculate about the rich and famous in order to feel involved in some way. In recent years, the emergence and subsequent popularity of gossip sites have allowed us to indulge in this gossip more easily than ever. The real question is, why do we want to?
The most underlying feature of gossip sites is that they are not official informational sites set up by celebrities, nor do they have any official backing or sponsors. They are based purely on speculation. It’s therefore unsurprising that many of these sites run on anonymous submissions, from anyone with an internet connection.
The sources of gossip are almost never verified and there’s no process one must go through in order to be permitted to submit gossip. This is what makes online gossip so abundant and easy to participate in. Anyone can be a part of it as anyone can claim to know ‘inside information’ about public figures.
What’s obvious is that gossip sites are a team effort
The anonymity of gossip blog submissions is central to the longevity of these accounts. The fear of backlash or legal trouble is enough to stop people from attaching their names to the information they submit. However, this does not mean that people do not want to gossip, they simply don’t want to be caught doing so. It’s not far-fetched to assume that if these sites ceased to be anonymous that there would be far fewer submissions.
By far the most popular celebrity gossip site is Deuxmoi. Set up in March 2020, the account has amassed over 1.3 million followers since its inception, and it continues to grow each day. In an interview with Vanity Fair, the owner of the account revealed that they have chosen to remain anonymous to avoid the reputation of the account interfering with their regular life and job. They also detail the trouble they have faced since they started to encourage followers to submit the information that they may have on celebrities.
Each day you can rely on Deuxmoi to post submissions about whichever celebrity is in the news that day. Perhaps what is more surprising than accounts like Deuxmoi existing, is that there are people who take time out of their day to submit gossip and further fuel rumours. What’s obvious is that gossip sites are a team effort, between those who run them and those who submit content. After all, what’s a gossip site with no gossip?
This apparent teamwork showcases just how deep the interest in celebrity news is. While not everyone participates in the sharing of information, we still check up on these accounts each day and read them like the morning paper. Simply the desire to know what is going on enables feelings of control over people we have no connection to.
An interest in celebrity gossip existed long before the emergence of gossip sites
Gossip also provides a form of social bonding like no other. Even if you are in conversation with someone you have little in common with, it wouldn’t be too outrageous to assume that you’ll both be aware of the latest celebrity gossip. Celebrities are always a viable talking point due to the increased access we now have to them through social media. However, an interest in celebrity gossip existed long before the emergence of gossip sites.
Before we had gossip blogs and forums, we had the paparazzi. The role of the paparazzi is to take photos of celebrities, and these are then sold to publications that post these images with or without the consent of the celebrities photographed. This career, based on invading the privacy of celebrities, has been around for as long as we can remember – gossip sites were a natural next step.
The fact that careers can be built off selling information that isn’t your own speaks volumes about the public perception of celebrities. Often, remarks such as ‘this is what they signed up for’ are uttered whenever a public figure speaks out against their personal details being shared and discussed in the online world. This disregard and denial of celebrities’ feelings in the form of gossip sites further reinforces the idea that celebrities are to be seen and not heard.
However, if everyone suddenly stopped caring about the inner lives of the Kardashians, would they perhaps cease to be as relevant as they currently are? There is both outrage and appreciation for the paparazzi, as even though we may condemn private photos of celebrities being leaked, how else were we meant to know that Ben Affleck and JLo are back together?
Where there is demand for information; there must be supply, and careers have been built off of gossip
Where there is demand for information, there must be supply – and careers have been built off of gossip. A notable figure in the world of celebrity gossip is American gossip blogger Perez Hilton. His entire blogging career has been focused on exposing the private lives of celebrities, and he has come under fire many times for doing so. Celebrities that have spoken about their disapproval of Hilton include Ariana Grande, Khloe Kardashian, and Miley Cyrus.
Figures like Hilton built a foundation for celebrity gossip where nothing is off-limits to speculate and reveal. Hilton is well known for posting non-consensual photos of celebrities, and even outing them – including Neil Patrick Harris and former NSYNC member Lance Bass. Ex-Fifth Harmony member Lauren Jauregui has recently spoken about how she felt ‘violated’ when Hilton posted photos of her and her, now, ex-girlfriend kissing and subsequently outed her to the entire world. Since then, Hilton has declared that he’s ‘not sorry’ for posting the photos.
The focus on being the first to reveal information continues to fuel celebrity gossip culture. If empathy was regarded as important for these gossip sites, they would not last as long or have anywhere near as much content as they do.
Gossip sites may simply be one manifestation of human curiosity
However, the need to spread gossip is not just confined to the desire to know about celebrities. There are also sites that allow us to gossip about those much closer to us. The rise in “confession pages” is quite unique. Nearly every university in the UK has a confessions page which always makes for a good conversation starter.
For the most part, these pages serve as great ways for inside jokes between friends to be publicised and shared with the rest of the student body. The anonymity aspect of these pages is vital – they are popular and receive submissions because it’s guaranteed that the identity of the author will be concealed. While the gossip shared on university confession pages tends to be less invasive, it’s still just as addictive and popular.
Students scroll the page to see if anything has been submitted about them or to simply snoop into the lives of others. Even though you may not know who exactly is being written about in a post, the curiosity of what others are getting up to persists. Perhaps this smaller-scale gossip is purely symbolic of the wider world of social media where we keep up with the lives of others, except now we can choose to do it anonymously too.
Maybe humans are just nosy. We enjoy keeping up with other people even when we don’t know them personally because the act of trying to stay in the know is addictive.
Gossip sites may simply be one manifestation of human curiosity. Regularly, we people-watch, we chat, we keep diaries, we eavesdrop, and we share new “juicy” information that we learn with friends. The only difference between people-watching and gossip blogs is that someone else has taken the step to broadcast what they’ve discovered.
It’s reasonable to assume that gossip blogs will exist for as long as the enduring concept of the “celebrity” does. As long as there are rich and famous people to know about, there will be an audience of people waiting to consume information about them. We are at a stage where we have easier access than ever to celebrities, and can even create gossip in their comment sections if we wanted to. This increased access only fuels gossip. If a celebrity doesn’t acknowledge rumours, then they are condemned as ‘ignoring’ fans.
After all, everyone’s on Instagram, so why can’t they tell us everything that’s going on in their lives? That’s what we’re entitled to, right?