No one is getting in their daily steps quite like Ana de Armas. The Knives Out actress has spent the majority of her quarantine walking around her Los Angeles neighborhood looking all kinds of highly curated cute with her boyfriend, Ben Affleck.
They’re reminiscent of early-2000s paparazzi strolls where tabloid-seeking celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton would display million-dollar designer bags when crossing the street from one car to another. Known as the “sidewalk sashay,” a term coined by bloggers Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez, taking a perfectly timed walk is a foolproof way for stars to further the narrative that they’re just like us pedestrians.
Then the pandemic hit, and celebrities struggled to find a way to tactfully self-aggrandize. The quarantine opened the gates to their guarded homes — the one space paparazzi were never allowed in. Ellen DeGeneres’ comment that social distancing is like “jail” fell flat when delivered on camera from her reclusive mansion. Elsewhere, bored daughters of Oscar-winning celebrities illuminated their ornate homes for massive TikTok audiences.
Those that choose to flee to summer homes in the Hamptons or house rentals in the Caribbean were chastised for deserting their local communities and potentially spreading the virus across state and country borders.
Suddenly, a paparazzi-friendly celebrity like Armas, once praised for looking effortless during her morning strolls, found herself lambasted for breaking quarantine. Worse, she wasn’t even wearing a mask.
Perhaps the biggest surprise? The soldiers on the front lines of celebrity-culture cancellation are stan accounts. One of the first people to call out Armas for breaking quarantine is the Twitter account @ArmasUpdates.
Anthony, 22, runs @ArmasUpdates, where he posts press interviews, magazine photoshoots and paparazzi shots of the actress. (Anthony requested to remain partially anonymous due to reasons of “stan Twitter.”) Beginning in April, he began acknowledging Armas’ responses to the pandemic while still praising her style. Sure, she looked chic catching up with friends at outdoor restaurants, but where was her mask?
Why call out his fave? “I don’t believe in blind stanning,” Anthony tells me. His account is directly tied to Armas. However, unlike her, he faces direct responses from the stan Twitter accounts. It’s bad for his brand to ignore Armas’ misgivings if someone calls him out for it with a “This you?” quote tweet. “I’m part of her PR in a sense. You don’t want to be associated with someone who’s not [acting] morally,” he says.
Holding her accountable came at a cost: Armas blocked his account in April.
Anthony, who now depends on Affleck’s social media posts and tabloid photos, doesn’t regret seemingly annoying his icon. While Armas is traipsing occasionally sans mask around Hollywood, Anthony is working for the Houston Health Department. “I feel like I have the right to criticize her for not participating in our preventive measures,” he says.
Since Anthony went viral for accountable stanning, a slew of other update pages have followed suit. Earlier this month, Ansel Elgort was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in 2014. While Elgort denied the allegations, a dormant stan update account, @ElgortUpdate, revived itself to address the accusations. @ElgortUpdate tweeted for the first time in two years on June 19th, saying it stands alongside the women who’ve come out against Elgort and calling the former fave actor a “pig.”
A few days later, Timothée Chalamet was photographed vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with Baby Driver actress Eiza González. Most headlines focused on a possible hot summer fling for the actor, who is fresh off a breakup with Lily-Rose Depp. Stan account @TimotheeUpdates, however, highlighted the new couple’s incongruent leisure trip during a global pandemic.
There’s also a Sebastian Stan stan account — yes, Stan has stans — who called out the actor in May for not immediately publicly supporting Black Lives Matter protests.
A few weeks later, the account praised Stan for opening his purse and donating to the GoFundMe for Rayshard Brooks, a Black man killed by Atlanta police earlier this month.
It’s too early to tell whether fan accounts holding celebrities accountable will ever reach the celebrity directly. Anthony has never spoken to Armas or her team. But interacting with celebrities has never been the point of fan pages. They exist as a community of their own, including their thousands of followers and fellow stans.
In many ways, they have a more immediate influence than their distant celebrity counterparts. “Ana has a platform, and she’s not using it. But I have an opportunity and can use it,” Anthony tells me of his account. “I could use it to my advantage to make awareness that this is the type of thing you’re not supposed to do during these times.”
Just as class traitors are always welcome in the pursuit of economic justice, so too are stan double agents turning against their problematic faves.