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The world is dying to know the secret Selena Gomez told Taylor Swift at the Golden Globes

The Selena Gomez-Timothée Chalamet-Kylie Jenner no-picture kerfuffle, explained.

Selena Gomez leaning in to speak to Taylor Swift at the Golden Globes award show.
Selena Gomez tells her famous friend Taylor Swift a secret that might or might not involve Kylie Jenner forbidding her to take a pic with her boyfriend Timothée Chalamet!
Christopher Polk/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

The open secret about — and half the fun of — the Golden Globes is that it’s the awards show that doesn’t really matter. There’s an open bar, so most of the actors and directors attending are slightly inebriated. The whole thing is one big, fun hang.

The highlights don’t come from the monologue or even the speeches, but from what happens as the show goes to commercial break.

It’s then that we see Ben Affleck surprising Matt Damon, or Allison Williams reuniting with Girls-turned-Bear star Ebon Moss-Bachrach, or Jen Aniston and Reese Witherspoon laughing and smiling, trying to put to rest rumors that they can’t share the set of The Morning Show.

This year, the camera couldn’t seem to pull away from one set of young stars: nominee Timothée Chalamet and Kylie Jenner, who have allegedly been dating since last April. When CBS’s camera wasn’t trained on the couple, it was hovering around Taylor Swift, a megastar nominee in the cinematic and box office achievement category. And it only took one Selena Gomez to bring these two narratives together.

After the event, rumors flew that Gomez had been barred from taking a photo with Chalamet. What? Timmy! How? Is there some longstanding beef between the young Wonka and Only Murders in the Building’s Mabel Mora? Not exactly, but there’s a lot to unpack.

What a time to be alive and what better way to celebrate Hollywood than remembering that innocuous, silly gossip and feuds still exist!

What happened between Selena Gomez, Timothée Chalamet, Kylie Jenner, and Taylor Swift at the Golden Globes

It’s important to note that exactly what Gomez said to Swift is unknown. But here’s what’s clear: At some point during the evening, Gomez went up to her most famous friend (and the less famous Keleigh Sperry) to have a chat.

Cameras caught Gomez as she leaned in close to Swift, telling her something. Whatever Gomez says, it’s much more intimate than a polite “hello” and something more involved than just a “How’s your night?” While Gomez tells her story, she shakes her head a couple of times. Gomez’s remark elicits a curious response from Swift: Her jaw drops. It’s the kind of surprised face that Swift makes when she wins an award, though here it seems like the megastar is genuinely shocked.

Sensing Swift and Sperry’s disbelief, Gomez nods her head four times as if to assure her friends that, yes, whatever she said sounds unbelievable but did in fact happen.

Lip readers on social media like TikTok and X (formerly known as Twitter), along with Page Six’s expert, say that Gomez was telling her friends that she asked to take a picture with Chalamet, and that Jenner, Chalamet’s girlfriend, did not allow the photo. Lip readers also speculate that Sperry mouths a “Timothée” followed by an extended, disbelieving “No!” Gomez, in nodding, seems to agree that this behavior is unreal.

Why the alleged non-picture between Gomez, Chalamet, and Jenner caught so much attention

CBS cameras were seemingly pointed at Jenner and Chalamet all night. The two have been dating for quite some time now. Chalamet is one of the most popular actors in Hollywood at the moment, with legions of extremely devoted fans. And because Kylie is a Jenner, there’s always an underlying conspiracy theory that her romantic relationships are, in some part, strategically played up for the cameras.

Chalamet and Jenner appeared to be locked in with each other all through the Globes, barely paying attention to the proceedings. Young love! If Gomez went up to Jenner and Chalamet and was rebuffed, is it really such a big deal? Well, for some. To devout fans entrenched in Gomez and Jenner lore, this is proof of a long-simmering grudge.

Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift leaning close and talking.
Is this the face of someone who heard that her friend wasn’t allowed to take a picture with the lead of Wonka or the face of someone who heard about two friends hooking up?
Christopher Polk/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images

Back in March 2023, Gomez and Hailey Bieber made pop culture news when they engaged in a social media cold war, but it all started when Jenner posted a screenshot of Bieber’s eyebrows. Normally, the collection of hairs on human faces that sit above the eyeballs is not considered a shot across the bow, but Jenner’s post came shortly after Gomez had posted a TikTok about feeling insecure about the shape and tint of her own brows. Hailey Bieber, it should be noted, is the wife of Selena’s famous ex, Justin Bieber. Jenner’s post was interpreted by hawk-eyed fans as an opening salvo, which resulted in Jenner deleting the post, while Gomez fans, undeterred, dug up old videos of Bieber trashing Swift. After this, Gomez, the most followed person on Instagram at the time, took a social media hiatus.

If we understand this as the background to the alleged photo snub, it would indicate that Jenner is being loyal to her friend and that Jenner’s feelings toward Gomez are unchanged from the 2023 act of eyebrow aggression. Gomez running to Swift deepens that narrative, since Bieber and Swift are allegedly not on good terms, thanks in large part to longtime Bieber manager and Swift enemy Scooter Braun.

The whole kerfuffle is enough to make normies feel like they’re solving riddles from a pop culture sphinx. The gist is, these women still do not like each other but are not allowed to say it. In an age where celebrities curate every minuscule detail of their image through social media, the possibility of a fleeting moment of celebs engaging in low-stakes pettiness caught on camera becomes a treasure. Everyone’s so invested because this trivial drama is one thing that actually feels real.

Fans love Selena Gomez, but they also love drama around her

With Gomez’s interaction with Swift — and the lip readings — going viral, Chalamet and Gomez spent the last few days shooting down the rumor that the Wonka star would not snap a picture with Gomez. Chased down by TMZ, Chalamet casually denied that his girlfriend was feuding with Gomez and that he and Gomez are fine (“Yeah, of course”).

Gomez’s defense has been a little more elaborate.

A source close to Gomez told People that “she [Gomez] was absolutely not referencing anything about Timothée or Kylie,” and that she “never even saw or spoke to them.” Gomez also left a comment under an E! News Instagram post, stating “Noooooo I told Taylor about two of my friends who hooked up. Not that that’s anyone’s business.”

Harrison Ford had no problem taking a picture with Selena Gomez!
Rich Polk/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images

Gomez’s alibi has led to questions about which two of her friends are canoodling. Could it be Only Murders in the Building co-star Meryl Streep? Was she as shocked as everyone to find out Ali Wong and Bill Hader have been dating for a bit now? Surely those tidbits might merit an outburst of emotion, but Swift’s outsize reaction and Sperry’s saucer eyes of surprise feel a little incongruent with news of two of Gomez’s friends having sex. Less serious lip readings of the pair also went viral.

Instagram and TikTok and breaks from Instagram and TikTok seem to be Gomez’s preferred method of communicating with the world at large. In November, she apologized but defended herself for saying Taylor Swift “was her only friend in the industry.” In December she confirmed, via Instagram comments, that she was dating producer Benny Blanco and was happy, despite receiving some guff from fans.

On January 9, in the wake of the Chalamet-Jenner Golden Globes frenzy and after her denial, Gomez said she would be taking a break from social media. Gomez had previously taken a break from social media in October 2023. In the aforementioned spat with Jenner and Bieber in March 2023, Gomez said she was taking a break from social media then, too.

As much as Gomez has tried to stamp down the commotion of her whisper chat with Swift and Sperry and despite her best efforts to stay off social media, she actually created the biggest moment of the Golden Globes. This is her blessing and her curse. People follow her every interaction, every social media post, every nod. Gomez’s drama eclipsed any award given out that night as well as her past year’s work on Only Murders in the Building, the reason she was attending that night. And that’s a testament to how good, intentionally or unintentionally, Gomez is at being famous.

On the evening of January 10, Gomez ended her break from social media — with an Instagram story about chef Gordon Ramsay teaching her how to make a breakfast burger. In total, she was offline for roughly 18 hours.

Update, January 11, 11:05 am ET: This story was originally published on January 10 and has been updated to reflect Gomez’s social media activity.

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