On Sept. 7, rapper Mac Miller was found dead of an apparent overdose in his Los Angeles home. Since the news broke, the media has been buzzing with conflicting reports and wild speculation about the cause of death. This is the latest example of pop culture media exploiting and sensationalizing a tragedy for the sake of gaining readership, and it is sickening.
Many reports that are circulating imply that Mac Miller’s death was a suicide caused by the end of his relationship with Ariana Grande and her subsequent engagement to his friend, Pete Davidson. However, Mac Miller was much more than Ariana Grande’s ex-boyfriend. He was a groundbreaking musical artist who successfully rebranded himself multiple times and put out a plethora of unique music. He was part of the soundtrack to an entire generation. For many people, he was a major influence on their art and had a positive impact on many lives.
His battle with substance abuse and depression is something that he had been vocal about far before he was ever involved with Ariana Grande. He was always candid about these problems, even admitting that he understood that his addiction and his depression were intertwined. Somehow, though, this isn’t something that the media reports have acknowledged in the time after Mac’s death. Instead, they’ve placed blame on Ariana Grande, saying that her refusal to stay by his side—despite the fact that their relationship was incredibly toxic—drove him to purposefully overdose. This is cruel and unfair, both to the memory of Mac Miller, a remarkable artist, and to Arianna, who is undoubtedly grieving herself.
We need to remember that a man has died here. He had a very real disease that he battled for a long time. Reducing him to “Ariana Grande’s ex-boyfriend” and reducing his struggle with depression and substance abuse to “a bad breakup” is insensitive and frankly, incorrect. However, pop culture media outlets believe that adding this sensational lens to the issue will attract readers, and so they disregard facts that do not support the narrative they are trying to build.
Mac Miller isn’t the first celebrity to lose his battle with substance abuse, and sadly, he likely won’t be the last. Pop culture media will have stories like this to tell again. I only hope that they will be more factual and less sensational when covering such tragedies in the future.