Romance or Showmance: Why Are We So Critical of Celebs Dating for Publicity?

By now, we’re all very across the latest celebrity couple that is Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian. And while an influx of speculation and memes about Pete’s sexual abilities were the initial reactions, fans are now starting to suspect that the pair aren’t really together.

Kim and Pete have apparently “known each other for years”, but began to spark romance rumours after her hosting stint on Saturday Night Live a month ago (where she did a spectacular job, btw).

Shortly after, there was an unforgettable pap photo released of the pair holding hands on a ride at Knott’s Scary Farm, which began whispers that they’re “more than friends”.

At first, people wanted to believe in this pairing and can you blame them?

Pete Davidson’s list of gorgeous exes — Ariana Grande, Kate Beckinsale, Phoebe Dynevor — is nothing short of enviable, and adding Kim Kardashian West to the mix makes sense?

What is it about ufnny boys with tattoos that is so irresistible? Is being funny really the key to being hot? Are boys with tattoos of an elite standard?

As you can imagine, there were memes galore. There were memes about Kim following in her sister Kourtney’s footsteps; getting it with onnnn with tattooed, emo-looking dude.

Then, of course, the obvious ones about Pete Davidson’s game, having exclusively been with some of the most sublime women Hollywood has to offer.

Boy just out here living his best life.

But the sentiment was that yes, they were in fact really dating. Then, Kim and Pete’s recent pap photos sparked some questions, with keen-eyed fans and media outlets noticing that the pair seem to be having “too much fun” (I didn’t know that was a thing) and seem a little “too eager” to be photographed together.

In the recent paparazzi shot that confirmed (to everyone on the internet at least) their relationship, Pete was wearing Skims — Kim Kardashian’s loungewear brand — pyjama pants, sparking the conversation that was; maybe this relationship is for publicity?

And then, even more recent photos of the two leaving a restaurant in Staten Island, not only shows a supposed hickey on Pete Davidson’s neck, but also shows the two of them seemingly giggling uncontrollably in the car together.

Now, this could be taken two ways.

  1. The hickey isn’t hidden by clothing or even attempted to be hidden by the camera, which means that it’s there for show to further spark rumours. We all know that hickeys can easily be created (as well as hidden) with some good make-up, and we also know that Kim is the make-up kween. They’re laughing because they’re having the time of their lives, perhaps tricking the whole world into believing that they’re a couple.
  2. They’re in that initial phase of a relationship where you don’t care about anything or anyone else because you’re so into each other and having the best time having the most sex. They don’t care about the public knowing about their relationship because they’re just enjoying the moment and maybe, it doesn’t feel too serious.

It’s safe to say that there are people on both sides of the debate, however, right now, it seems there are more on the cynical — they’re just doing it for publicity — side.

Pop culture and celebrity news realists Michelle Andrews and Zara McDonald raised a few questions in their latest Shameless podcast episode, with Zara saying that she thinks “if they were properly dating, we wouldn’t be hearing about it at all, let alone the amount we’re hearing about it.”

Michelle piped in to back her up, by saying that “when a Kardashian relationship is serious, such as Kim and Kanye in 2011/12 or Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker, they really nourish the relationship with the privacy it needs, at least for a month or two months.”

They both raise valid points.

But why are we so critical of celebrities that engage in these public romances for publicity?

Many of us take it very personally, as though our good friends have lied to our faces. When, in actual fact, we’ve made up our mind and created a narrative based on some photos and then get upset when the narrative we’ve created might not be as full proof as we’d like to believe.

Now is probably a good time to remember that we don’t truly know any celebrity, no matter how transparent they are with their lives.

Relationships between celebrities in the name of publicity are a tale as old as time, and there are so many reasons why this is a strategical move that can benefit projects or personal brands in the public eye.

But we can totally understand the devastation of worshipping a new celebrity couple, only to realise it wasn’t the fairytale it looked like.

We’re definitely living in a world of digital media now, in which consumers are becoming savvier and used to these publicity stunts.

Just think back to the days of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, who were rumoured to have been asked to start dating to boost the success of the High School Musical movies, and who broke up rather conveniently after the third and final film. I mean, we’d all like to believe that Zanessa actually fell in love during this process, but we can’t deny that their dating IRL didn’t make the films just that much cuter!

Then we have Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift, who although we can’t deny were into each other, at least physically, displayed very clumsy and obvious moments of PDA, right around the time that Hiddleston was going for James Bond. I mean, that “I ♥ TS” shirt was pretty iconic, and they may have been simply obsessed with each other for a few months… but those images will live in our head rent-free and we’re not mad about it. And just think about it, how many more people know who Tom Hiddleston is now?

We will never know the truth behind these relationships, but that’s okay.

We can’t deny that spending hours speculating about celebrity relationships isn’t one of our favourite hobbies. They’re giving us something to talk about, and potentially promoting themselves at the same time and although that lifestyle is totally unfathomable to the majority of us, we’ve got to remember that their job is literally to be in the public eye.

They may as well give us something juicy.