ANON PLS New Novel
She’s the queen of celebrity gossip—and now a published author too. But whether you love or hate her posts, we can all agree on one thing: She’s a terrible, terrible novelist.
Never make yourself the story.
In more words or less, most college journalism students learn something similar to the above statement, while also forging through years of AP style quizzes, breakdowns of the First Amendment, and PR prep. Your subjects should tell the story, not you. It’s a simple, steadfast rule, broken from time to time when journalists’ reporting becomes just as interesting as their subjects; see: All the President’s Men, Spotlight, or She Said.
It’s clear that the infamous celeb gossip account Deuxmoi never learned this rule. A pseudonym shared by two women, whose real identities were finally unearthed earlier this year, Deuxmoi fancies herself a celebrity reporter, writing about a broad range of topics from Joe Biden’s whereabouts (shockingly, he’s in Washington, D.C.) to nasty celeb breakups. But a journalist “she” is not. The Deuxmoi account tattles on celebs via anonymous tips sent in from around the world, spinning their private lives into a hobby, rather than what they actually are—real, human lives. On top of this, Deux has now turned herself into the story with a narcissistic (and boring) novel about her rise to fame, a move that undercuts any idea that her goal was ever actually to spread the truth about celebs. No, it’s always been about getting famous herself.
While she doesn’t claim to be a journalist, the blogger treats her job—gossiping, essentially—as something similar to journalism. But she’s not “breaking stories,” as she likes to suggest. She’s not giving average people the power to hold extraordinary people to account. Deuxmoi is crossing a line between what constitutes public and private life, sharing intimate details about people (also human beings, though they are celebs) that a real, ethical journalist would never dare to unveil.
Her latest attempt at justifying herself is via an origin story in the form of her debut novel, Anon Pls. But the book, which Warner Bros. Discovery has already signed on to develop into a whole HBO Max series, is a sad, boring, grueling attempt to excuse Deuxmoi from her reckless behavior. Reading like a riff on Emily in Paris and The Devil Wears Prada, Anon Pls follows Cricket Lopez, a down-on-her-luck assistant who can’t impress her boss, a famous celeb stylist. So tired of her job and the drama that A-listers bring in, Cricket revamps her old fashion Instagram account into a full-blown gossip account. It’s called—take a guess—Deuxmoi.
Like the real account does, Cricket slowly grows a large following by soliciting and posting blind items, anonymous tips about famous people that she doesn’t vet. One tip ends up leading to a multiple-industry reckoning. By the end of the book, hundreds of thousands of people are clicking on Deuxmoi, to find out about where celebrities are eating or whatever drama is brewing.
Over and over again, as she blows up celebrities’ personal lives, Cricket tries to justify the account’s purpose: Celebs are real people, just like us, she explains. It’s OK for her to post all this unverified gossip, because she’s not really claiming to be a journalist. It’s OK, because celebs deserve it; they’re millionaires and billionaires with no shame. It’s OK, because she’s bored. What’s the difference between this, revealing the precise location of friends, and gossiping with your friends?. Totally normal, humane behavior. To top it all off, Cricket rarely faces consequences for her actions—and neither does Deuxmoi. Both the account and the character rely on the drama of strangers to keep their fuse lit.
Does this make Deuxmoi malicious? Not really; at least, not in Anon Pls. But the way the account normalizes airing the most private, specific details about celebrities’ private lives, from relationships to whereabouts, veers on villainy. Laughing about the way Katy Perry hurls pizza at the crowds or Cate Blanchett burping on Hot Ones—this is real celebrity gossip. Even the mess behind Don’t Worry Darling, minus the Shia LaBeouf issue, has a place in the realm of frivolous fun chatter. But where do celebs dine, where do they live, their heartbreak, and secret relationships? That’s not information anyone needs or deserves to know. But Deux thinks she should get a free pass to do so with celebs when people have gotten hurt (or worse) because of these types of posts.
Cricket’s reason for running the account isn’t as empathetic as Deuxmoi hopes. Cricket has a sad, miserable life as a single woman in New York City (her boss hates her, and her two closest friends are happily in relationships), so she turns to posts about strangers’ lives to find some kind of solace in her own. Anon Pls attempts to be feminist for a minute, with Cricket opening up the floodgates with tips sent in by women victims of an abusive actor (he’s a “vampire,” reminiscent of the saga around Armie Hammer’s alleged cannibalism). But whisper networks can have equally non-feminist outcomes or motives. There is a reason journalists work to confirm the information and, in a similar vein, aim to stay out of the story themselves. Neither Cricket nor Deux can clear her conscience by simply stating she doesn’t know the veracity of the claims she receives, nor can she keep her biases out of the stories she chooses to report.
This dilemma has come to the fore over the past few months, with Deux regularly trashing abuse survivors. Not only is she posting a number of claims in favor of alleged abusers, like Johnny Depp, but the blogger has also taken it upon herself to add her own thoughts on certain allegations. For example, when Constance Wu came forward with sexual assault allegations against her Fresh Off the Boat producer in September, a Deux follower wrote in asking if the story was “real.” Deux posted the question, which was inherently posed against victims—and she, too, questioned the validity of Wu’s claims.
“I can’t imagine anyone making that up,” she responded. “But…”
Further, the account has taken a liking to post about the Brad Pitt vs. Angelina Jolie abuse allegations, becoming a mouthpiece for Pitt’s side of the affairs specifically. She’s posted tips that suggest, for example, that his alleged abuse of Angelina Jolie “ultimately won’t affect him” and that “Hollywood loves a redemption tale.” The decision to platform her own takes on famous people’s traumas isn’t gossip. It’s a sad way to either engage followers, as she pines for relevancy, scraping for attention in the ongoing backlash against #MeToo.
It’s especially hard to take any stock in Deux’s opinion, knowing how her blind item operation sometimes works. In the novel, Cricket admits to forging a handful of tips the account has “received.” She forces her friends to send in anonymous messages about things they may or may not have seen or, worse, sending them in herself, as a way to boost the account’s visibility. These forged tips aren’t fake, and there’s a chance this part of the novel is fictionalized, but something about this feels so inauthentic. When IRL Deuxmoi posts long tipster messages in favor of Brad Pitt, it’s plausible that she’s just sending in these messages herself, skewing a narrative in favor of whomever she desires.
This is not the type of behavior that should be rewarded with a book, a TV show, or the gorges of followers she’s amassed on Instagram. Truthfully, what the account deserves is to be shamed off the internet for “exposing” (read: violating the privacy of) celebs of all levels of fame. Deuxmoi does nothing but creates a gaudy spectacle reminiscent of 2000s tabloid reporters interrogating Britney Spears and paparazzi chasing down Lindsay Lohan, or even like the U.K. rags that have recently gone after Meghan Markle with racially coded vitriol for her distance from the royal family.
With Anon Pls, Deuxmoi makes it even more obvious that she’s not a whistleblower. Despite this entire semi-autobiographical book, Cricket Lopez isn’t the story, and neither is Deuxmoi. Anon Pls cements the blogger’s floundering relationship to the world of PR, celebs, and journalism—by dipping her toes in each bucket, she’s watered her persona down enough to no longer warrant any lingering fascination.