There are a few things happening in pop culture right now that don’t make any sense. Becca Kufrin booted perfect Wills Reid from The Bachelorette but kept Garrett Yrigoyen and his problematic Instagram posts. The Rugrats is receiving an unnecessary reboot. Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” video didn’t receive any major nominations at the 2018 MTV VMAs. Everything is out of sorts, which might explain why some people are having inexplicably irate reactions to the fact that Pete Davidson’s fiancée, Ariana Grande, is wearing his late father’s FDNY badge number around her neck.
A brief explainer for those who don’t follow everything Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson do: Davidson’s father was a firefighter who died during 9/11, and his badge number was 8418. Davidson eventually had that number tattooed on his arm (and, reportedly, Grande has it on her left ankle). He also has several FDNY pendants with that number inscribed, and he posted a photo of Grande wearing one of them to Instagram over the weekend. One commenter said it was “disrespectful” that Grande had on the pendant, writing to Davidson, “No girl should ever wear your dads [sic] chain.”
Davidson was quick to hit back, though. “For [your] information that’s not just some girl, that’s my fiancé [sic],” he wrote in response to the commenter. “She’s the greatest person I know. I gave it to her because she has my heart and that is the most precious thing I own. My dad would be so happy and love her so much.” Grande stood behind the SNL comedian, writing herself, “I love you more than anything.”
But the trolling didn’t stop there. Another commenter wrongfully assumed the pendant Grande’s wearing is the one Davidson also gave his ex-girlfriend, Cazzie David, which led to an entirely separate clap-back.
“It’s so ridiculous that he gave it to his ex and said the same thing…SMH,” the person wrote, to which Davidson replied, “Actually, I didn’t give that to my ex. Yes, she had one but it was a replica. I had a bunch of replicas made. My sister and grandpa also have one. The one that Ari has is the one my dad actually died in and the one he wore his entire career and the one I’ve worn for over 17 years. I’ve actually never taken it off other than for SNL or work. So it means a lot to me.”
Here’s the thing: There are a lot of topics people care about that I don’t (to name a few: football, kale, metal music, and hiking). Even still, though, I understand why people are invested in them. Football is an American institution, and kale is, like, a superfood or some shit. I can even get on board with why people enjoy hiking! I don’t, however, understand why people are so invested in what Davidson does with his late father’s 9/11 pendant. It’s pretty ridiculous he’s had to explain himself not just once but twice.
This isn’t coming from a place of celebrity naïveté, either. Obviously, Davidson is a public figure and should expect a decent amount of commentary about his life and choices. Is that OK? No, but it’s part of the world—and news cycle—we live in. I’m just having difficulty figuring out why people are latching onto this specific story. What Davidson went through with his father is beyond traumatic. Unless you’ve experienced something similar, it’s impossible to comprehend. If Grande wearing the pendant is helpful to Davidson in some way, which it clearly is, then why is that so egregious or terrible? Shouldn’t he be able to honor his father in whichever way he sees fit? And shouldn’t people (strangers, specifically) respect that?
More important, we’re focusing all our attention on this when we could be talking about the fact Ariana Grande saved pop music for the umpteenth time with “God Is a Woman.” It’s a bop. Stream it now, and let Pete Davidson do whatever he damn well pleases with this pendant.