Last night at the VMAs, Drake and Rihanna gave us the moment we've all been waiting for. The years-long are-they-or-aren't-they came to a climax when Drake presented Rih-Rih with the Video Vanguard moon man. "She's someone I've been in love with since I was 22 years old," he gushed, to elated applause. "She's one of my best friends in the world. All my adult life, I've looked up to her even though she's younger than me."
Drake's heartfelt speech followed the posting of a congratulatory billboard in L.A. last Friday. But the real cherry on top came after his love declaration, when Drake went to give Rihanna her award. Attempting to plant a kiss on her lips, Rihanna gave him the cheek and then muttered something that looks suspiciously like "That wasn't funny." The Curve Heard 'Round The World was the most Drake thing to ever happen and people were losing their shit. How could she do this to him? Why is Drake so pathetic? Is this some kind of bizarre coming-out as a couple?
But here's the thing about Drake and Rihanna, that will break the hearts of everyone in America who craves their wedding and adorable offspring. Drake knew he was going to get curved. They'll never be together. They can't. And it's not for any of the reasons you'd think. It's not because she doesn't love him back or because he's too soft or because the timing just never works out with their busy schedules. It's far more cynical than that.
The two simply can't publicly ride off into the sunset because it'd be bad for their brands. Both artists lean into the longstanding unbalanced love affair because it plays a powerful function for their public personas. Drake remains the lovelorn good guy and forever just-a-friend; Rihanna remains the badass bitch who can't be tamed. Especially not by a softie like Drake.
And that's to say nothing of what a happy courtship would do for their music. Who wants to live in a world where Drake gets called on his cell phone regularly? What happens when Rihanna is no longer Desperado, fucking faded on the low? I don't want to find out.
That's not to say their complex relationship is completely a publicity stunt. The two do seem to have a real affection for another. But instead of egging on an eventual marriage, let's all lean into the fact that their love is and should be forever unrequited. It's better that way.
Deputy editor of Real Future.