Calling out the trent of blaming women for the addictions of men like Mac Miller
On September 7, Mac Miller died from an overdose. Although I was not a fan of the rapper myself, I absolutely knew of his existence and his place in pop culture. Listening to his albums after his death, one thing is abundantly clear; his appeal comes from the nostalgic feelings a lot of his songs bring.
His 2018 album Swimming is a perfect example of this. Swimming will surely become one of my go-to ‘rainy day’ albums. In particular, I really enjoyed the tracks “2009” and “Ladders”. “2009” is a song that pulls you in with its classical introduction, and I really enjoy the lyrics regarding his rise to fame, especially when he says, “Sometimes I wish I took a simpler route, Instead of havin’ demons that’s as big as my house.” As for “Ladders”, the juxtaposition between the happy atmosphere of the instrumental and the lyrical theme of hard work that might come crumbling down is something I really find interesting.
His overdose made headlines immediately, but the odd thing about the coverage of his death was how another name was constantly being paired with his – Ariana Grande.
Truth be told, my first encounter with Miller was his featuring on Grande’s breakout hit “The Way” (2013). For people who aren’t entirely familiar with the rap scene, that might be your only exposure to Miller, aside from him being Grande’s long-time friend, and boyfriend from 2016 until May of this year. If you were oblivious to the professional and personal relationship between these two celebrities, it’s likely that Miller’s unfortunate passing brought those facts to your knowledge... but for all the wrong reasons.
When news of his death hit, I happened to be scrolling through Twitter. After my initial shock of the headlines passed, I was faced with hundreds of comments on both of Grande’s Twitter and Instagram pinning the blame for his overdose on the singer. Twitter user @CompetitiveToo commented, “You did this to him, I can’t believe this...you should feel absolutely sickened! Treat him like dog shit, threw him to the curb like he was nothing.” Another user, @SuperGleesh, said “I mean IDC what anybody says I’m 100% blaming this on you.” Many replies were much more vulgar and insensitive, all making sure Grandewas aware of them by tagging her Twitter username in their messages. On her Instagram, the vitriol was so severe that Grande’s Instagram comments section was disabled.
Beyond the internet hate-machine, which was likely half genuine hate and half ironic hate, isn’t it crazy to pin the blame for a man’s overdose on his ex-girlfriend? I think this opens a serious conversation; when men make poor decisions, oftentimes the women in their lives are called out. Besides Miller and Grande, there is controversy that surrounded Italian actress Asia Argento and her late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain. In July of this year, the 61-year-old chef committed suicide, and many people online held Argento responsible. I think this is a horrible trend and contributes to blaming women for things they can’t control. The death of Miller caused widespread hatred towards Grande – just another thing on the list of things people have blamed her for this year. During Aretha Franklin’s funeral, the singer was clearly groped by a pastor, but many complained more about her attire at the funeral than the actual sexual assault. The music video for her hit song “God is a Woman” also received backlash online for its feminist themes, such as literally breaking a glass ceiling in the video (‘break the glass ceiling’ is a term feminists often use for describing the invisible barriers women face in the workplace).
Miller and Grande were long-time friends and eventual lovers until this year; however, Miller’s struggle with addiction began long before meeting the pop star. Miller admitted to music news website The FADER in a 2016 documentary that he, “...hated being sober. I wanted a drug to do.” While the rapper acknowledged his issues and had sobriety goals, it was hard for him to get out of the mindset that he needed drugs to function. Miller didn’t completely succumb to addiction in his entire life, taking steps every now and then to get clean. On September 14, Grande ended her social media silence and made an Instagram post about her ex. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t fix or take your pain away” says the caption.
It’s unsurprising that Grande was named as the catalyst for the rapper’s OD. After all, we live in a society that blames women for the actions of the men in their lives. A glaring example of this is the culture of victim blaming, where victims of sexual assault are sometimes blamed due to their clothing, attitude, etc. Miller’s addiction did not begin when Grande broke up with him. She helped him with some of his pain when they were together, but ultimately had to move on for reasons the general public has no business knowing.
When you love someone, oftentimes the reality is that you can’t truly evolve with that person in your life. Maybe you both have different career goals, or maybe, like with Miller, you have an addiction problem that is hindering your relationship.
Miller was battling addiction for most of his life. What was Grande supposed to do that she hadn’t done already? Even if she had stayed with him and he passed on anyways, would she have been blamed for not helping him enough? Either way, the internet would have made her out to be the bad girl in all of this. What exactly was mentioning her on twitter and flooding her Instagram with accusations supposed to do? Fix things?
I can’t even imagine the kind of pain Grande was going through at the time, and as a celebrity with an active social media presence, I’m certain she caught wind of a portion of those comments. Even weeks after his death, some media outlets reporting on his cause of death feel the need to include Grande in their headlines; an example being The Sun’s article entitled, “‘LIQUID HEROIN’ Lethal cough syrup drug blamed for Ariana Grande’s ex-boyfriend rapper Mac Miller’s death is sweeping the UK.” Abusing her relationship with him to gain internet traffic just proves that the world will never let this one go.
Miller’s death will forever be linked to Grande. “You don’t go down in history because you overdosed...” was another introspective moment by Miller to The FADER. Though overdosing ended up being the 26-year old’s fate, I hope he’ll go down in history not for his death, but for his music and career. In addition, I really hope the online reaction to his death sparks a larger conversation about the insensitive hate-mongering aimed at women.