The Architectural Digest celebrity house tour (or the “AD house tour,” for those deeply attuned to the thrumming heart of popular culture) is not known for its emphasis on verisimilitude. Many of the videos appear to be highly staged, or at the very least, they are a master class in the aphorism, as extolled by the Countess Luann, that money can’t buy you class.
The first chink in AD’s truth armor came in the midst of the pandemic, when Dakota Johnson extolled her love for decorative limes in her AD house tour video, only to later confess to Jimmy Fallon on his show that she was actually — cue Oprah’s what is the truth gif — allergic to limes (also honeydew, but that’s a bullshit fruit so we’ll give her a pass there).
Following Johnson’s fabrications about citrus fruit, many viewers have watched subsequent AD house tours with a skeptical eye. Last week, High School Musical star and “He Said, She Said” chanteuse Ashley Tisdale caused a similar social media dust-up when she revealed on her AD house tour that the books in her bookcase were not, in fact, hers, but were purchased last minute by her husband to fill up empty space.
In the clip, Tisdale takes viewers on a tour of her home, ending at the bookshelves in her living room, where she makes a shocking admission. “These bookshelves, I have to be honest, actually did not have books in a couple days ago,” she explains. “I had my husband go to a bookstore and I was like ‘you need to get 400 books’. Obviously my husband’s like, ‘we should be collecting books over time and putting them in the shelves,’ and I was like ‘No, no, no, no, no, not when AD comes.’”
On Twitter, it was as if Tisdale had personally admitted to taking part in Kennedy’s assassination. “I….am speechless,” read one viral Tweet about the moment, which received more than 300,000 likes. Others did a little detective work, vetting the titles in the bookshelf (which appear to be largely New York-centric) and determining that Tisdale had likely bought in bulk at the New York-based discount bookstore the Strand, which has long offered a “books by the foot” service.
For her part, Tisdale has responded to the uproar with the humor and grace one would expect from the woman who played Sharpay Evans in the High School Musical franchise. “There are some of my books from over the years in there but yea 36 shelves that hold 22 books I did not have,” she said in her initial reply. “And any interior designer would have done the same. They do it all the time, I was just honest about it.” We stan a transparent queen!
Further, Tisdale has also used her viral moment as an opportunity to promote local bookstores and start a book club to discuss mental health. “Sorry I haven’t been reading everybody’s tweets, I’ve recently just got a lot of new books to get through,” she wrote on Twitter before linking to a website that financially supports indie bookstores and plugging a book about anxiety by Lucinda Barrett, effectively giving a master class in news cycle damage control.
On this week’s Don’t Let This Flop, Rolling Stone‘s podcast about internet culture, co-hosts Brittany Spanos and Ej Dickson discuss Ashley Tisdale’s pop culture revival and her exemplary attitude in the face of attempted book-related cancellation, as well as her iconic maxi-skirt-over-denim red carpet looks and our contention that she should’ve been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the High School Musical franchise. They also discuss American Song Contest (justice for “New Boot Goofin’”), a flawless dance trend inspired by Kazakh YouTube kids’ channel, and chat with Taylor Lorenz of the Washington Post about how Facebook allegedly tried to smear TikTok.