Earlier last month, Pete Davidson announced his breakup with Ariana Grande on Saturday Night Live by pretending to propose to a co-host, making a self-deprecating joke about moving in with his mother and wishing his ex-fiancé all the best. Who cares? You do, and I’m here to defend you.
Unless your Wi-Fi has been down since May of this year, the Ariana-Pete situation is not new to you. The relationship and following breakup has been so public that, even if you couldn’t care less, you probably know all about it. It was pretty obvious to anyone who knows the nature of celebrity engagements that no one would be walking down the aisle, and lo and behold: two matching tattoos, an explicitly titled love song and a $16 million apartment later, the pair called it off.
It’s a little embarrassing for me to admit that I’ve been following this relationship, but there’s no other way to put it. I watched the SNL clips, I read the articles, I checked for statements and drama after the breakup. And many people could ask a very fair question: why do you care? Are we all pathetic for following the personal relationships of celebrities? In cases like this one, I don’t think we are.
As much as it’s probably very troubling for celebrities to have everyone know their private business, it’s also often incredibly beneficial. From the outset, Ariana and Pete didn’t seem to have any concerns about PDA, with both talking about each other extensively in interviews and Pete discussing the engagement on SNL. Sure, normal people talk about their relationships and post about them on social media. But normal people don’t have 133 million followers on Instagram, or an audience of seven million people watching them on TV. Normal people don’t benefit from having context to their music, or their stand-up.
Pete claimed on SNL that the breakup was “nobody’s business”
I’m not suggesting that the entire thing was staged; I don’t think either of them would have been quite so public if they knew they were going to break up. But I think it’s naïve to think that the attention they are getting is a complete nuisance when it has come from a demand that they created. The investment from the public has made Pete Davidson (who, honestly, I hadn’t even heard of prior to this year) more famous, it’s drawn more attention to SNL, it’s helped Ariana not only to release a number one album but also to release a breakup song that’s breaking Spotify streaming records.
Pete claimed on SNL that the breakup was “nobody’s business”, which is true. If they have decided to keep certain things private, of course that’s their right to do so. But I also don’t think we can be blamed for our curiosity, because it was purposefully generated. Despite the engagement’s unfortunate end, these two public figures, and their managements, have profited hugely off of our interest in this relationship. And yeah, Sweetener probably would have gone to number one anyway and SNL always bring in a huge number of viewers, but the public’s knowledge of the pair’s personal lives has undoubtedly helped their relevancy- Pete's joke about moving back in with his mum, which relies on the audience’s knowledge of the breakup, proves this.
So was it wrong for them to make their relationship so public? Nah. But don’t feel bad for following along; celebrities can’t have a highly public relationship that helps both their success and their privacy, and let’s face it, Pete and Ariana chose the former.