In today’s social media climate, the few weeks that Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande have been dating and engaged feels like a lifetime. Not really because of them, more because of the political hellscape that we’re struggling to survive, but it also serves the dual purpose of blurring our sense of time. Mid-May? What even is that?
Don’t quote me, but I believe that the “zero tolerance” policy that led to the separation of thousands of immigrant children from their parents began roughly around the same time that Pete and Ariana began dating. And bizarrely, those are two things that seem to have had equal play in the media (albeit in different spheres).
And I think that it’s precisely because these two events are concurrent that we find ourselves so obsessed with the new relationship.
In the beginning of the year, The Cut (the fashion offshoot of NYMag) published a piece about the rise of skincare. There was a connection drawn between the stress of the media and the sudden deep desire to self-soothe and self-care, particularly when it comes to something as neutral and inoffensive as skincare. I really believe that there is a reasoning behind the obsession with the benign, and the relationship between a popstar and a comedian is about as benign as it can get. And their relationship is getting so much play in the media that my best friend, who does not care about most pop culture, even brought it up in a phone call.
My theory, I posited, is that Ariana Grande will be one of the long-lasting greats in our pop cultural textbook. And a lot of the greats have had multiple significant relationships. She’s 24, so it’s high time that she’s had her first engagement. Multiple engagements is kind of chic. By the way, if this sounds cynical, that’s not how I mean it. If Pete and Ariana end up getting married and stay together forever, a la Dolly Parton and Carl Dean, that would also be kind of chic. And if they got married, stayed together for five or ten years, then that wouldn’t be the worst thing either.
In the grand scheme of things, Pete and Ariana are in a pretty good position to take their relationship fast. They’re great in their respective fields (which do not overlap but occupy tangential spaces); they’re young; they’re rich; they’re hot; they’re well-liked. Apparently there are people saying that Pete is “beneath” Ariana; first of all, yeah but only because Ariana is…Ariana.
But I think the real appeal is that there’s no real risk of people getting hurt. These are not people for whom money is a real limitation; if they drop a hot thous on a ring, who cares? If they move into a luxury apartment too quickly, will anyone really be worse for the wear? They’re adults, but they’re young, and they’re in control and it’s fun and flirty and a little stupid. I love it.
Now, that being said, it could get dark quickly. If they do get married and divorced quickly, that’s dark. If someone cheats on the other, that’s dark. If there are drugs, that’s dark. But for right now, there’s none of that, so I’m having all of it.
But it’s such a welcome balm to think about Pete and Ariana rather than parse out the meaning (if there is any) behind a snide message scrawled on the back of the FLOTUS’s coat, or pull my hair out over Trump’s horrific press rally, or wonder what exactly that Stephen Miller audio sounded like.