Today, Stranger Things actor Noah Schnapp confirmed in an interview with Variety that his character on the show, Will Byers, is canonically gay and in love with his best friend, Mike Wheeler, who’s played by Finn Wolfhard. Exactly no one was surprised. If you say you are, you’re in worse denial than Alexander the Great (ba-dum-tss). But I can’t help but suspect that the timing is a little… too convenient. After all, Schapp has spent the last week on Twitter’s trending topics for another awkward romantic entanglement, and something like this seems like just the tidbit to get everybody to stop talking about that.
Unfortunately for Noah, he’s failed because I was already working on this essay and I’ll be damned if I have to delete a draft because someone out there in the Stranger Things audience can’t read a blinking, bright red sign three feet in front of their faces. The other failed love connection to which I refer is, of course, the somehow controversial DM from Doja Cat to Schnapp asking him to throw her a lob to Joseph Quinn, who plays metalhead rebel Eddie Munson in the show’s recently debuted fourth season. If, for some reason, you have been kept enviably out of the loop for the past week, here’s a recap:
Last week, Schnapp posted an amusing TikTok about his encounter with the “Kiss Me More” singer, sharing a screenshot of their DM conversation in which Doja asks him to tell Quinn to “hmu.” When Noah advises Doja Cat to DM Joseph directly, she asks for just a tad more help, since she can’t seem to find him online. Noah obliges, directing her to Joe’s Instagram. All’s well that ends well, right? Well, it seems Doja Cat took issue with Noah sharing the screenshot, calling his video “socially unaware and wack” during an Instagram Live a couple of days later.
Maybe Doja felt embarrassed, or maybe she just wanted the kid to reconsider sharing screenshots of private conversations without permission — a concept much of the internet has had trouble grasping in recent years, to be fair. She did preface her statement by allowing that Schnapp is just 17 years old and therefore prone to missteps, but despite her asking folks to “be chill about it,” this is, again, the internet we’re talking about here. It didn’t take long for the Twitter Hot Take Machine to decide that Doja was the villain in this story and spent a few days castigating Doja for DMing a 17-year-old in the first place, resulting in the loss (supposedly) of 200,000 followers, and an apology from Noah Schnapp himself.
And now, here’s my hot take:
Absolutely no one should care about any of this. To be blunt, Doja Cat’s romantic life is no one’s business but hers unless she says otherwise (hence, her reaction to Noah sharing that screenshot). But once the thing was out there, it could have and should have just remained a funny story confined to a slow news day’s blog posts and perhaps maybe a quirky story for Doja and/or Noah and/or Joseph to share at parties. Instead, it’s become a referendum on … something. To be fair, in cases of outsized backlashes like this one, you can usually backtrace the inception to pop music stans and their endless, petty power games about whose fave is the best.
And Doja Cat has certainly put herself in those crosshairs before. It’s a rule of the internet that once you’ve had one manufactured Twitter scandal, you are certain to accumulate more for as long as you remain famous enough to have stans (and stans who hate your stans. It’s a whole headache, to be honest). She could have ducked this whole situation entirely had she just done the same thing she did in the first place and contacted Schnapp privately about the breach of etiquette. But, honestly, people, let’s all just relax. We live in a very online society that grows increasingly online by the day. DMing one person to get another person’s info is probably a thing that happens quite a bit, we just don’t hear about it because those people aren’t famous (and nobody shares the screenshots).
We don’t have to have opinions on everything, and certainly not on some celebrity’s misfired attempt to get their crush. There are far more important things going on in the world right now (to wit: A growing housing crisis, cripplingly rising inflation, a baby formula shortage, shortages of dozens of other products as supply chains continue to be interrupted, the looming end of bodily autonomy in the US, and oh yeah, that pandemic that still hasn’t fully gone away). Maybe I’m just an old man shaking his fist at the sky here, but the strangest thing about this situation is that we aren’t devoting all this passion toward addressing those real problems.