When it comes to celebrity break-ups, more often than not it’s women who bear the brunt of the media attention. The tabloids have never quite let Jennifer Aniston shake-off the Brad Pitt episode of her life, and persistently tried to attach the label of ‘sad, childless human’ to her. Similarly, the question regarding queen of break-up songs Taylor Swift has always been ‘why can’t she keep a man?’.
Yet, no speculation has been quite so damming or dangerous as that which followed the split of Ariana Grande and the late Mac Miller. Their break-up earlier this year was followed by Miller, who had been known to suffer with addiction, crashing his car while intoxicated just days later and tragically losing his life in September.
For the most part, the media chose not to attribute the 26-year-old’s death to illness or addiction but instead ran speculative articles that pointed the finger at 25-year-old Grande, who had decided it was no longer her duty to be babysitter. On the night Miller’s death was announced to the world, alongside the thousands of heartfelt tributes to the rapper lay cold accusations and slanderous rumours that saw Grande’s instagram comments disabled and her name trending worldwide.
This attack on Grande has been brewing for months and even resulted in the star confronting the media’s heartless accusations and dangerous narrative following a fan’s tweet in September. Taking to the platform she posted a lengthy notes page in which she demanded that the ‘shaming and blaming’ of women for a ‘man’s inability to keep his shit together’ cease and that the demonisation of women who choose to leave toxic relationships stop. Indeed, Grande did not owe it to Miller to save him from something that was far bigger than the both of them and nor should she ever have been expected to.
The media and gossip magazines ought to have pointed their fingers elsewhere in the aftermath of Miller’s death. To the underfunding of social welfare, to the stigma surrounding mental health and the illness of addiction.
Miller’s death could have been an opportunity to start important conversations and face up to some hard truths. Instead, we have used it as just another scandal to fuel gossip blogs and deflect blame on to a young woman, perhaps in the hope that demonising her shirks some of the responsibility that we have in solving this very apparent problem in our society. Miller was let down by society as a whole - not Grande.