Are We in Pete Davidson’s Britney Era?

Davidson’s latest string of tabloid headlines feel suspiciously familiar
Are We in Pete Davidson’s Britney Era?

Saturday Night Live star and serial celebrity boyfriend Pete Davidson is back in headlines after a near altercation with a paparazzo on the set of his new film sent him on a destructive spiral. Is it too early to say, “Leave Pete Alone?” 

Despite his success in television, Davidson is, for all intents and purposes, best known for his off-screen activity rather than his creative work. His dating life is the topic of much tabloid discussion as he leaves behind a wake of supermodels and pop stars with each new power coupling. His rehab stints and car crashes continue to provide fodder for entertainment writers across the internet. And, in the last week, his near-attack on a nosy photographer who attempted to capture him standing next to co-stars Bill Murray and Ed Harris on the set of his upcoming crime movie Riff Raff headlined a series of buzzworthy incidents that also included a handful of suspicious show cancellations and yet another wrecked trailer as the comedy star seemingly begins his newest destructive spiral.

Considering Davidson’s much-publicized personal problems, it’s no surprise that his latest disturbances are making the rounds in gossip media. Celebrity meltdowns making international news are nothing new in our modern media landscape, which begs the question: after seeing how poorly this story has played out in the past, why aren't we concerned about Pete's future?

Sixteen years ago, gossip media’s favorite trainwreck was, of course, popstar Britney Spears, whose head-shaving incidents, car problems and substance abuse issues dominated the news cycle for months — so much so that Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson feared professional repercussions when he publicly pushed back at the coverage of Spears’ downward spiral. Today, Spears’ behind-the-scenes struggles, including an exploitative conservatorship, are common knowledge, and the dominant opinion within the zeitgeist is that she was woefully mistreated by the media and public at large during the peak of her personal problems.

For the last couple of years now, Davidson has, arguably, been the main character of gossip blogs and grocery store celebrity mags — but, as he’s publicly discussed, his fight with mental health issues such as PTSD and borderline personality disorder aren’t just some silly quirks that cause him to be the perfect target for prying paparazzi. He’s sought professional help on multiple occasions, including the aforementioned rehab stints, but his destructive behavior in the past year suggests that he’s still fighting those demons.

That’s not to say that Davidson shouldn’t be held responsible for wrecked trailers that overworked PA’s will have to put together, or for the repair for the living room walls through which he sends his car careening late at night. Just like the rest of us non-celebrities, he’s accountable for how his actions affect others. I just hope that, in sixteen years, we’re not all going to look back on how we gawked at Davidson’s outbursts with shame as we tweet out demands of, “Free Pete!”

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