My fellow Americans, it is with a heavy heart that I must share with you the sad news that pop royalty Big Sean and Ariana Grande have broken up.
Not all too surprising, perhaps, given the fact that the pair’s biggest hits are “I Don’t Fuck With You” and “Break Free,” respectively, but alas, to quote the immortal Nelly Furtado: “Flames to dust. Lovers to friends. Why do all good things come to an end?” After all, just over a month ago, the Detroit rapper gushed over his relationship with the pint-size pop princess in an interview with The Daily Beast.
“That’s bae right there,” Sean said, adding, “We just respect each other. She do what I can’t do, and I do what she can’t do. We just have fun with it. I do want to make more music with her.”
On Monday morning, the two released a joint statement citing their packed touring schedules and time spent apart as the primary reason for the split, saying, “They both care deeply for each other and remain close friends.”
Now, I’m not privy to the inner dynamics of this celebrity relationship, but for the past several weeks—nay, months—a pack of venomous wasps has been circling these two star-crossed lovers, salivating at every little slipup and the prospect of its expiration. I’m talking about the schadenfreude-fueled blogosphere and its social media brethren. Gawker, as is its wont, didn’t waste any time, reveling in the demise of these pop star paramours with the classy headline: “Ariana Grande and Big Sean Have Finally Freed Us From Their Grasp.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In recent weeks especially, it looked like social media was actively plotting the relationship’s end.
First came the “did he or didn’t he?” tweets. On the evening of April 8, Justin Bieber made a cameo at an Ariana Grande concert in Los Angeles to guest on their track “Love Me Harder.” Biebs got pretty handsy on stage with Grande, and she looked visibly uncomfortable.
A tweet from an apparently agitated Big Sean began circulating online:
“Beliebe That.” OK, that’s good...if it was true. We even bought it. But according to Sean’s camp, the tweet that went viral was a fake. Whether you believe his “camp” is up to you. It’s not likely that Sean would have a beef with Bieber, though, considering the rapper owes much of his success to him. Sean not only featured on the Bieber hit “As Long As You Love Me” but also was gifted DJ Mustard’s beat to “IDFWU” after Bieber passed on it.
One thing that isn’t as arguable is the social media incident that occurred over the weekend. A screengrab of an Instagram post by Big Sean spread like wildfire online. It was a selfie of the rapper accompanied by the caption: “I give her that D… #Detroit.”
Pretty innocuous, right? Well, underneath the photo an Instagram user who went by the handle “edward_butera,” which happens to be the name of Grande’s father, commented: “that D. better be Detroit Sean.”
The “get your hands off my daughter”-esque fatherly scolding was picked up by numerous outlets, including Facebook content farm Elite Daily and, of course, Gawker, which ran it with the headline “Ariana Grande’s Dad Warns Big Sean Not to Give Dick.” Oh, Gawker.
According to Grande’s publicist, however, the entire Instagram photo was faked—a mock-up by an overly enthused hater. And that’s not all. The person who commented underneath the photo claiming to be Grande’s father was “an imposter” who’d apparently jacked his Twitter profile picture for a fake Instagram account that has amassed some 23K followers—this according to Grande’s actual father:
Whether this tabloid schadenfreude is a mere byproduct of the celebrity-industrial complex or the symbiotic relationship between these gossip rags and celebs is debatable, but it’s hard to imagine these two stars would be complicit in such tasteless vitriol. And whether one of the motivations is race, since instances where a cherubic young celebrity is found dating a black rapper seem to be under far greater online scrutiny (see: Kylie Jenner and Tyga), is anyone’s guess.
Perhaps the TMZs of the world enjoy seeing high-profile celebrity relationships explode into a million pieces. Just look at the way TMZ has placed a big ol’ target on recent Miley Cyrus squeeze Patrick Schwarzenegger. Ever since the two began dating several months ago, the gossip site has apparently done everything it could to sink the relationship. Every sad-looking photo of the USC student clearly symbolized a fissure in the relationship and every photo of him so much as standing in the orbit of another young female meant trouble. The site even crafted a post with the headline “Miley’s Fans Threaten: WE WILL KILL YOU,” directed at Schwarzenegger, and quoted a handful of random insane Twitter users threatening the young fella.
The pièce de résistance, of course, was TMZ following Schwarzenegger on spring break, where its cameras captured him partying with his ex-girlfriend. This lame “reveal”—they’re not even kissing!—made national headlines and somehow warranted a second photo series.
So on Monday, the same day that Ariana Grande and Big Sean publicly announced their breakup, came reports that Cyrus and Schwarzenegger are “taking a break.”
Somewhere in a dark, mirthless room, the minions of TMZ—and its Twitter-happy acolytes—are chortling with glee.