This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
I’ve never heard any music by Noah Cyrus or Lil Xan. All I know about Noah is that she’s a singer and she’s related to Miley Cyrus. When I think of Lil Xan, I can recall his face tattoos. Even though I know next to nothing about them, I’m obsessed with their breakup, and have viewed all the available online evidence of it many times over.
I found out a few days ago that Noah and Lil Xan were dating when I saw someone share a screenshot from Noah’s Instagram story. After the initial wait, who are these two people? I realized this was some of the most absurd celebrity relationship drama I had read about in a while.
I’ll sum up the highlights: Lil Xan posted a cryptic Instagram story suggesting Noah was cheating on him. Noah went on Instagram Live to share her side of the story and cry in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers; then, she shared screenshots of texts with Xan on her Instagram stories. Apparently, Noah had sent Lil Xan a very NSFW photoshopped meme of Charlie Puth’s head on a porn star’s body, which somehow made Lil Xan think that Noah cheated on him, so he broke up with her (as though sending someone naked pictures of the person you’re cheating on them with is a real thing. I mean, I really hope it’s not). Then, Noah turned the tables and accused Xan of cheating.
It all ended with Lil Xan putting his platinum plaque for his single “Betrayed” in a bathtub, taking a video of him pissing on it, and posting it in black-and-white on Instagram.
In the words of Billy Ray Cyrus, “What to heck ????”
I can’t remember the last time I saw a relationship implode like this. As soon as that first screenshot of Lil Xan reacting to a photoshopped Charlie Puth “nude” floated onto my Twitter feed, I wanted to know as much as possible about Noah and Xan’s breakup. I wanted to see just how batshit wild the story got, and batshit wild it most certainly did get.
Noah Cyrus and Lil Xan are the latest of many celebrities whose relationships we’ve been able to track in excruciating, TMI-filled, self-destructive detail, thanks to their oversharing on social media. Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson, David Dobrik and Liza Koshy, Millie Bobby Brown and Jacob Sartorius, among others, are all couples who love/loved letting their fans in on their relationships. They share cute photos and memes alluding to their significant others, they post teary vlogs explaining their breakups to millions of heartbroken fans, they meticulously delete all their Instagram posts about their exes and turn off comments on all others—and we eat it up. We love the brutal and the impossible honesty. We love the vulnerability of head-over-heels relationships that evolve impossibly fast. We love the ridiculous antics (seriously, that piss video thing is still unbelievable to me). Most of all, we love the drama.
I told some friends about everything I’d learned about Noah Cyrus and Lil Xan’s breakup, and one of them said, “I’m so glad Instagram Live didn’t exist when we were in high school.” Suddenly, I had a flashback to some embarrassingly vulnerable moments I had on and off social media throughout my tween and teen years. When I was 11, I would change my MSN status to sappy lyrics punctuated with broken heart emoticons when my crush didn’t respond to my message before he logged off. At 12, I accidentally left my journal on my bed and my friend read some of it while I was in the shower. In tenth grade, I live-posted on Facebook every week as I watched Glee until people told me to chill out. When I was 17, I wrote morose poetry in a Moleskine like I knew the world. We didn’t have Instagram Live, but we had plenty of other things that let us express our full, flowing emotions in public and potentially embarrassing ways. And so did celebrities before Noah Cyrus and Lil Xan.
Do you think Tom Cruise lays awake at night dreading that time he jumped up on the couch on The Oprah Winfrey Show? Does Angelina Jolie wish she hadn’t worn matching blood lockets with Billy Bob Thornton? Do Taylor Swift or Drake regret writing songs about their lovers and sharing them with the world? Is social media the thing that lets us see a vulnerable, head-over-heels, potentially embarrassing side of our favorite celebrities, or does emotion always find a way?
I can’t help but be a bit skeptical of celebrities oversharing on the internet. They know how nosey we are and how much we love being able to relate to them, so there’s nothing to stop our favorite online personalities to make up stories to keep the interest of sheep like you and me—yes, you too, you clicked on this article after all. Sure enough, in a now deleted Instagram post (what else?) Lil Xan suggested that Columbia Records orchestrated his whole relationship with Noah Cyrus. Noah denies that claim, and wants Xan to let their breakup end peacefully (it’s too late for that). What’s real anymore? If this was fake, how the hell does Charlie Puth factor in, and why?
A second look at the text screenshots shared by Noah Cyrus shows that she changed Lil Xan’s contact name in her phone to have broken heart emojis around it. Lil Xan has no less than eight broken heart emojis in his Instagram bio. Even if it might be fake, this feels all too familiar. Maybe that’s why I love it.
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