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In 2018, it felt impossible to go more than a few days without hearing something new about Pete Davidson, by proxy of Ariana Grande. Now, just over two months into 2019, Davidson is trending yet again — and now, his recent headlines have nothing to do with the “7 Rings” singer.
Davidson’s recent spate of headlines began about a week ago, when he was spotted kissing actress Kate Beckinsale at a New York Rangers game. Much of the commentary about the kiss centered on how public it was: namely, Beckinsale and Davidson were seated in the front row of the stadium, readily visible to pretty much anyone who looked in their direction (and to Antoni Porowski, the Queer Eye star who happened to be sitting next to them — and trying not to look).
Although the twosome’s Rangers incident marked the first massive wave of attention on the potential relationship between them, rumors about a possible romance had begun swirling as early as last month, when the two left one of Davidson’s stand-up sets together. They were also seen together at Netflix’s Golden Globes after-party.
The current frenzy around Davidson’s dating life isn’t something he quite understands, but he accepts it. On Saturday Night Live’s March 9th Weekend Update, Davidson appeared to express surprise that people are so floored by the age difference between him and Beckinsale—he’s 25, she’s 45—but both he and Beckinsale are unbothered by the public reaction to their romance. He also made sure to note that he’s far newer to this sort of public spectacle than Beckinsale is, even though Davidson’s 2018 spotlight was absolutely massive.
The other set of headlines swirling around Davidson also stem from his March 9th Weekend Update. While discussing this year’s resurgence of sexual assault allegations against R. Kelly, Davidson made comments that many have found controversial: “If you support the Catholic Church,” he said on Weekend Update, “isn’t that the same thing as being an R. Kelly fan? I don’t really see the difference—only, like, one’s music is significantly better,” he continued, comparing the suits filed against priests in the Catholic Church with R. Kelly’s alleged history of sexually assaulting underage girls.
In further comments, Davidson suggested that fans of a musician accused of behaviors generally considered socially unacceptable, such as Michael Jackson’s alleged history of child molestation, can enjoy the music without chastising the creator. His comments were mostly met with backlash from the live audience, who booed him loudly.
Davidson’s most recent comments aren’t the first time he’s gotten in trouble for remarks he’s made on SNL. Previously, he was widely criticized for joking about swapping out then-fiancee Ariana Grande’s birth control pills for breath mints; even after that, he compared a Republican congressional candidate to “a hit man in a porno movie.” This candidate was a Navy veteran who lost an eye while serving as a U.S. Navy SEAL overseas in Afghanistan.
It seems that Davidson struggles to enter the public spotlight without controversy. As long as he remains a cast member of SNL, it might be safe to assume that he’ll come in and out of public focus, whether for remarks that offend some viewers or for romantic rumors, for quite some time.