#SpitGate proves the Internet will believe anything it’s told

Harry Styles did not spit on Chris Pine

The premiere of Don’t Worry Darling sparked a controversy involving two of the actors.

Earlier this month, the Venice International Film Festival 2022 featured the star-studded cast of Olivia Wilde’s upcoming film Don’t Worry Darling. They were there for a press conference and to watch the movie as it premiered.

While the excitement was rising, apparently so were fans' imaginations—rumours of the lead actor, Harry Styles, spitting on his co-star, Chris Pine, quickly had the Internet running rapid. 

During Don’t Worry Darling’s premiere, a fan in the audience recorded a video of Styles entering and taking his seat next to Pine. A slight pause in Pine’s applause, and Pine looking down into his lap as Styles turns to take his seat sparked rumours that Styles spit on Pine. 

The video blew up, with thousands of people alleging Styles spit on his co-star, even referring to the incident as #SpitGate. The incident proves that, once again, the Internet will believe anything it's told.

As Twitter users argued back and forth about whether the allegations were true, I was astounded. How could anyone possibly think a megastar like Styles would do something like that, especially in the public eye?

Styles has been a celebrity since he was sixteen—he’d undergone media training before he’d finished puberty. He’s attended countless press events during his seven world tours and four film premieres. No one who’s spent that much time in the limelight would ever be so naïve as to spit on someone.

Suggesting Styles would end his reputation of professionalism—and, frankly, his career—by doing something as immature as spitting on a co-star demonstrates the apparent lack of critical thinking on the Internet. I know the Internet becomes obsessed with any sort of drama or controversy it gets its hands on, but this went too far.

Although it seemed obvious that Styles didn’t spit on Pine, the accusations were taken so seriously that both Styles and Pine’s teams released statements about the video. 

“This is a ridiculous story—a complete fabrication and the result of an odd online illusion that is clearly deceiving and allows for foolish speculation,” Pine’s team said.

Styles addressed the matter himself at his concert at Madison Square Garden in New York, where he joked, “it’s wonderful to be back in New York—I just popped very quickly to Venice to spit on Chris Pine.”

While #SpitGate was arguably harmless and all parties involved ended up taking the matter lightly, it’s a clear example of how quickly misinformation spreads on the Internet. 

If a singular video resulted in engagement from thousands of social media users and plenty of news media coverage, the same phenomenon could occur with more harmful misinformation—take some of the discourse surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, for example.

Social media was a key contributor in spreading conspiracy theories about vaccines, masks, and the origins of the virus. In addition to the increase in preventable deaths from people ignoring public health guidelines in favour of Facebook group advice, many of these conspiracies were riddled with racist rhetoric that led a surge in hate crimes.

Let’s be real: if it only takes a man leaning over and his co-star looking down to convince the Internet two professional celebrities would be petty enough to spit on each other, then oh darling, I’m worried. 

Ultimately, it’s important to think critically about what we see on the Internet before spreading or believing it. For the last time: no, Harry Styles did not spit on Chris Pine.

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