Why am I so obsessed with the Chrissy Teigen and Michael Costello drama?
In my admittedly very flimsy defense, I’m not obsessed in the Chrissy Teigen and Courtney Stodden situation, whereby (for those who live under the rock also known as ‘off social media’) Courtney revealed in an interview with the Daily Beast that the social media super force had abused them (Courtney identifies as non-binary) on Twitter in 2011. ‘My Friday fantasy: you. dirt nap. mmmmmm baby,’ Chrissy tweeted. ‘What drug makes you do that with your mouth? asking for a friend who really wants to know how to look like an idiot’. Privately Chrissy had DMed, ‘I can’t wait for you to die.’
Courtney was, at the time, a 16-year-old new bride married to a 50-year-old actor, in a relationship encouraged and sanctioned by their mother and the subject of ongoing public derision. Dr Drew once examined their breasts with an ultrasound - while they were 17 - live on air to check for cosmetic modifications.
This is not entertaining. This is grotesque and vile and I hope everyone involved in this larger story, especially Courtney (and, separately, their predatory ex-husband), have received the help and support they need.
When these tweets and DMs went public, Chrissy Teigen spent a grand total of 33 days offline, during which time she lost deals with Macy’s and Netflix. She recently reemerged with an apology, and that’s where we can really settle in for this rollercoaster ride.
Michael Costello, a designer from season eight of my second favourite reality show Project Runway, came forward and said that online bullying he’d received at the hands of Chrissy in 2014 had given him suicidal ideations and ongoing trauma.
Then, Leona Lewis entered the chat, stating that Michael Costello had once body shamed her thereby giving her ongoing trauma. At this stage, I believed Leona Lewis, who has sold some 30 million albums since winning UK X Factor in 2006, was going to become somewhat of a main character in this story and my interest was piqued by the subplot. But Leona never moved past bit player. Instead, she and Michael exchanged polite, pleasant apologies and moved on; her role quickly forgotten in the wider ecosystem of celebrity social cancel culture.
Meanwhile Chrissy came out with guns blazing for Michael Costello.
“Chrissy has acknowledged her past behavior and the pain she has caused, but she will not stand for anyone spreading false accusations to further demean her name and reputation,” said a statement prepared on her behalf and released via her social media channels.
The statement claimed that the DMs produced by Michael were fake, and that she had receipts (proof provided courtesy of boring technicalities relating to Instagram features in 2014).
By now I was in deep. This is exactly the kind of gossip I can get behind. The kind where no one looks good, where the power balance is vaguely the same, and where it all plays out on the public arena of social media.
We all love gossip. Our friends at The Spinoff have just devoted an entire week to it. Social media has undoubtedly changed the way we consume gossip, particularly celebrity gossip. And not in a bullying Perez Hilton kind of way.
Instagram sensation Deuxmoi is breaking stories through unverified tidbits faster than publicists can issue releases (it ‘reported’ Kanye and Irina well before the first public sighting of them last week).
(Please read this essential homework on Deuxmoi if you aren’t familiar with the excellent, albeit mindless work they do. If anything, following them may help you locate Timothée Chalamet in a coffee shop in NYC one day. Or spot Taika Waititi on Ponsonby Road.)
I had a ringside seat at the Chrissy Teigen v Michael Costello fight and I’d also just listened to this excellent podcast episode on Cancel Culture which covers acceptance on and importance of Twitter, digital journalism, mental health, anthropology and human instinct; the intelligence of which I felt gave me permission to question and unpack my complicated feelings.
There were also some unanswered questions. And so, I dug. And here’s what I found out.
A lot of people love Chrissy Teigen.
A lot of people hate Chrissy Teigen.
Because social media lacks nuance or balanced discussion, the majority of people fall into one camp or the other.
She has also become somewhat of a figure of hate for believers of QAnon. This is possibly due to her feud with Trump, or the donations her and husband John Legend made to BLM. There is much chatter amongst QAnon theorists that Chrissy and John holidayed with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. Some have even photoshopped images of them together.
Plot twist: The once iconic LA boutique Kitson, which provided paparazzi endless tabloid photo ops for young Hollywood stars of the early to mid aughts (think Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan) has been red-pilled, and after dedicating their Christmas window on the famed Robertson Blvd to digs at Chrissy Teigen, Anthony Fauci and others, it now uses its Instagram almost exclusively as an anti-Chrissy account.
That I enjoy watching attention seekers publicly battling so we can see how the lines of support are drawn. For the record, Chrissy got the likes of Meena, Gabrielle Union, Christian Siriano, Amber Valetta, Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Garner, Selma Blair, Jennifer Aniston, Hilaria Baldwin and Anna Reeve liking or commenting on her initial apology, but her fiery comeback was substantially less star studded with Taika Waititi and Erin Foster, among others, showing support.
Michael Costello has deleted his initial accusation, but Gabi Butler (from Netflix’s Cheer) and Taryn Manning (Orange is the New Black, Crossroads) liked his defensive comeback. Leona Lewis’s accusations happened on Insta Stories where there is no record. This is why you disappeared from the narrative Leona! Dumb move (or smart move, depending how much attention you were after).
This in-depth investigation is brought to you by my washing pile and parental neglect.