On this site, I write backwards. Which is probably a terrible writing habit and I’m probably the only blogger here at LaineyGossip that does it which is that I decide on the title of each post before I start and sometimes I go back and change the title but mostly, like 80% of the time, the title stays. So I just spent 20 minutes staring at a blinking curser because I couldn’t decide what I wanted the title of this article to be. And what I ended on, finally, is just my thesis: I really like Ariana Grande. The reason this is the thesis is because I didn’t always like Ariana Grande. Not at all, actually. Especially not when she licked those donuts and the bullsh-t apology that followed.
But exactly 13 months ago, I Can’t with Ariana Grande became I Think I Can with Ariana Grande. It was the grace and the “colossal empathy” we saw from her after Manchester and it was the way she showed her work after the tragedy. It changed her – and I’m sorry that it did, because you never want to celebrate anything out of that much suffering – and it changed the way she communicates. The reason I Totally Can with Ariana Grande is because she gets it. The most recent example of this is how she responded to criticism about Pete Davidson’s joke about what was the worst day, for her and her fans both.
Five months after Manchester, during a performance, Pete, in referencing Ariana’s fame, said this about Manchester:
"Britney Spears didn't have a terrorist attack at her concert."
Someone dug that up a few days ago and it’s been circulating all week online. Ariana addressed it yesterday in response to this tweet from a fan:
I respect Ariana and I want her to be happy and everything, but she was just broken after the Manchester bombing, so I don’t know why she is still with Pete, like yeah he made that joke a while ago, but like it’s not funny, it’s just rude. This is my opinion.— oscar☁️ (@ariissalegend) July 4, 2018
Here’s how Ariana replied:
this has been v tough & conflicting on my heart. he uses comedy to help ppl feel better ab how f-ed up things in this world are. we all deal w trauma differently. I of course didn’t find it funny. it was months ago & his intention wasn’t/ is never malicious but it was unfortunate— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) July 5, 2018
i hear and respect you all always.— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) July 5, 2018
This is personal. But it’s also work. For artists like Ariana, especially now, the work is always personal. And this is GREAT work. Let’s break down why this was so well done. First of all because she waited. As mentioned, the conversation about this had already been going on a few days. She took the time to think through it, presumably to talk herself through it and probably with Pete too. I’m increasingly uncomfortable every time a woman is held to account for a man’s mistakes but in this case, because Manchester and Ariana are so inextricably linked, and because the joke was made about a heinous act that killed and injured her fans, leaving a giant scar that she and her fans all share, I understand why they needed to hear from her. Most importantly, SHE understood why they needed to hear from her. And so, after careful consideration, which almost always comes with time, she gave them what they needed – which was an acknowledgement that their anger and hurt were justified – while also sharing with them some insight about the person she loves and not apologising for why she will continue to love him.
Some people have called this a “defence”; I don’t see it that way. She is clear about the fact that she didn’t think what he said was funny. She goes further to call it “unfortunate”. What I also like here, which may have not been what she meant, is the distinction she draws between intention and outcome. We can mean well. Or, rather, we may not intend to be malicious, but we can still end up causing pain. And it’s a good lesson in these times about bias, especially unconscious bias.
Time and again, we’ve seen celebrities f-ck it up in addressing controversy. The list is long. A few examples: Scarlett Johansson showed us her ass this week. Justin Timberlake showed his ass when people called him out for stepping into it after Jesse Williams’s acceptance speech at the BET Awards. Lena Dunham hasn’t been great at it and she’s a writer. Ariana herself bungled it a few years ago after the donut situation. This time she wasn’t even wrong. But she managed to demonstrate her growth and her compassion and her work. What else is there to say? I really like Ariana Grande.