On Friday, September 7, rapper Mac Miller reportedly died at age 26 after an apparent drug overdose. Fans, including stars like Chance the Rapper, immediately took to social media to express their grief. Yet, while many were expressing their condolences, some fans used Miller's death as an opportunity to take shots at his ex-girlfriend, Ariana Grande.
Shortly after TMZ reported Miller's death, fans took to the comments section of Grande's Instagram to spew hate and assign blame. Many comments proclaimed one thing: that Grande was at "fault" for Miller's overdose death. Grande's comments have since been disabled, likely given the circumstances. (Refinery29 has reached out to Grande for comment.)
The "God Is A Woman" singer and the "Self Care" rapper (whose real name is Malcolm James McCormick) went public with their relationship in September of 2016. They broke up in May of 2018. Grande shared an Instagram post proclaiming that, while her relationship status with Miller had changed, the two would remain close friends. Weeks after Grande and Miller's reported break up, Grande began dating Pete Davidson, to whom she later got engaged.
Not long after the pair announced their breakup, Miller was arrested for driving under the influence in May, with a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit. When a fan claimed that Grande's decision to move on with Davidson was the catalyst for Miller's DUI, Grande clapped back on Twitter:
"How absurd that you minimize female self-respect and self-worth by saying someone should stay in a toxic relationship," she wrote in a lengthy note which she posted to Twitter, before adding: "Shaming or blaming a woman for a man's inability to keep his shit together is a very major problem."
Blaming Grande for Miller's struggle, and eventual death, places an unrealistic responsibility on her to manage a problem completely out of her control. It was also a problem that she admitted was too much for her to handle: Grande wrote on Twitter that it was "hard" and "scary" watching Miller go through this battle, and that it was much more so than she initially wanted to share publicly. By stating that Grande should have stayed with Miller, despite Grande herself proclaiming that it was "toxic" to do so, fans are encouraging an unhealthy and codependent relationship, one in which Grande bears responsibility for someone else's well-being.
The truth is, Miller did not battle substance abuse because of a bad breakup. His issues with drugs have been well-documented for years. There's no guarantee that, had Grande and Miller stayed together, he would have maintained his sobriety. In fact, as Grande points out in her note, Miller was not sober during their relationship.
Though it does not matter what Miller had to say about Grande or her current romantic relationship before his death, it's particularly upsetting to see her so cruelly blamed by Miller's fans when the rapper himself expressed nothing but warmth towards his ex-girlfriend. When asked by Rolling Stone about Grande's engagement to Davidson, Miller had nothing but good things to say.
"I am genuinely happy that that’s how she moved. That’s good for her," he told the outlet. "Go, go, keep going! As she should. I’m just being real. That’s good. Now I have space for me. And that's great too."
Perhaps fans should take Miller's own words into consideration and choose to speak with kindness — especially given such tragic circumstances.
If you are struggling with substance abuse, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free and confidential information.