On paper, Pete Davidson is a comedian. He performs stand-up, appears on Comedy Central roasts, and shows up periodically on Saturday Night Live, where he shivers his way through “Weekend Update” monologues that are mostly about how much Staten Island hates him. I like Pete as a comedian, sure; his last movie was pretty good, and he remains a good counterbalance to Michael Che, whose anti-trans jokes are as boring as they are unfunny. But the context where he really thrives — this specter-like Dennis the Menace, this hipster Babadook, this sexy, slouching, shapeless tuft of sea salt mist — is as a strange yet perfect celebrity oddity.
The last time I wrote about Pete, it was the summer of 2018. We were innocent then: Davidson was a relatively new name in our collective celebrity consciousness, his then-girlfriend Ariana Grande kept looking at him as if he were a Dum Dums sucker that she wanted to crack in half with her wisdom teeth, and it seemed everyone had an opinion on the exciting if perplexing energy radiating from his narrow pelvic girdle. But now, god, we are so old: Pete and Ariana are no more (who could’ve imagined that a woodland nymph and the boy from your eighth-grade class who turned apples into bongs at lunch would not last), Pete’s relationships have remained high profile if less frequently Instagrammed (Phoebe Dynevor, Kate Beckinsale, Margaret Qualley), and he’s been sloughing off all those glorious tattoos that make him look like the underside of a driver’s ed desk. He’s becoming serious, I guess — more movie roles and less personal drama. Honestly, it’s a shame: Hollywood has enough funny-but-sad actors, but what we really need is a straight-up weirdo.
But then he gave us a gift over Halloween weekend. There he was, holding hands with Kim Kardashian West, our generation’s Cher (do with that what you will), in photos that they must have known would soon become public. I had a lot of hopes and dreams for 2021, especially after over a year of worrying about the future, feeling increasingly certain that I would never experience raw, unbridled joy again. What I did not have on my vision board was Kimberly Kardashian West and Peter Michael Davidson perhaps taking each other to a sexy catacomb to boneyard it up while we all watched, unsure whether we wanted this or not. (Turns out, we did. We did.)
Look, I am very sick, and I love Pete’s whole creepy-crawly vibe. I don’t know why! I’m just as disturbed by it as you are! But I cannot possibly be alone. Maybe it’s time for all of us to accept the truth — that the best version of Pete’s celebrity is so messy and bizarre that you can’t help but root for him. I’ll watch him as he becomes a prestigious dramedy actor, which somehow already feels inevitable, but the more he grows up, the more I will miss his romantic anarchy. At least he still looks like a Gen Z Edward Scissorhands who I would pay to just splice me into pieces.
I don’t actually think these two are dating. I think they’re two of the most shrewd attention-getters in modern American culture, which I offer as a profound compliment. They’re likely connected not just through Kim’s recent SNL appearance, but also through the emo ghouls Pete hangs out with — Machine Gun Kelly, who is friends with Travis Barker, who is now engaged to Least Interesting To Look At Kardashian Sister™ Kourtney. This probably isn’t an earnest love connection, but rather the linking of two geniuses who know that a tremendous amount of harmless, delightful, free press will come their way if they just hold hands. Even once.
It only took a few photos at a haunted house for Page Six to breathlessly report that Kim was recently in “Pete Davidson’s native NYC,” as if that’s the only thing New York could possibly offer. The city should change its tourism slogan. “I ❤️ NYC” had a good run, but by the spring, I hope to see stalls in Times Square selling shirts that say “A RAT TOUCHED MY BARE LEG IN PETE DAVIDSON’S NEW YORK CITY!”
But just because I don’t think they’re dating doesn’t mean that I don’t desperately want the rumors to be true, with every fiber of my being.
It’s just such a bad idea, this pairing, sure to be a loud, public, ugly disaster. They are a perfect awful couple, just like Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox, or Kourtney and Travis. It would be two people who do not seem to operate in the real world whatsoever, dating like mere mortals. You want that too, even if you can’t admit it. You’re not above this, you’re not better than this, and you’re not too cool to derive pleasure from the most aggressively lawless celebrity pairing since Pete and Ariana. (She released a song that was just...his name! Then she broke up with him!!! IT’S PRACTICALLY CAMP.)
It’s just too good to not engage with, even while being patently absurd. Imagine Kim’s cavernous, empty, macabre all-taupe bedroom (ideally with those awful blanched pumpkins she puts out for Halloween) where a shirtless Pete Davidson in a Supreme beanie is hunched over, connecting a Nintendo Switch so he can teach Kim how to fight as Incineroar in Super Smash Bros. Meanwhile, Kim is swanning around wearing Skims, chin to toe, sucking on a raspberry-avocado smoothie, digging seeds out of her teeth with a gold-plated AMEX. (It’s vegan! So is the smoothie.)
It’s perfect because it’s nuts. Only Pete could give us such a gift — and this close to Diwali too!
Such is the pleasure of watching Pete Davidson’s life choices, which are part chaos, part exacting precision. Dating Kim would be bananas, but it would also be an incredible power move in literally every way possible. He seems to understand the machinations of celebrity almost as well as she does, a comprehension where nothing matters, everything is stupid, and even ill-fated decisions remain absolutely delectable. And unexpected though it is, it appears that I’m bound to spend my 30s feeling sexually disoriented over a man who looks like what would happen if The Crow were a documentary.
I don’t want much in this life, just an opportunity to sit and hand-feed him children’s multivitamin gummies to keep his energy up. (Does he eat? I don’t know — can ghosts eat, even if only for the sheer hedonism of it all?)
The world is too hot for us to survive it much longer. The country can’t agree to all just shut up and get a free lifesaving vaccine. I’m once again thinking too much about Yolanda Hadid, which forces me to think about her clear fridge. Nothing matters; everything is pain. At least Pete Davidson is doing the heavy lifting of bringing us all a little mess, a little stupid drama, a thick little nugget of absurdity. I hope he lives forever, and considering the fact that he looks like the too-tall lead in a zombie Tuck Everlasting, he absolutely will. ●