Attention, please: we’re officially done with the social media phenomenon known as a relationship soft launch. Forget posting a coy photo of a faceless body across the table from you at dinner, two wine glasses in tow. Or the contextless inclusion of some lovey-dovey meme in your latest Insta photo-dump. People aren’t really interested in knowing who you’re holding hands with at the cinema, or who accompanied you on a delightful little afternoon date to the museum. What they want to know, really, is who you’re fucking.
This Valentine’s Day, Emily Ratajkowski and Eric André echoed that sentiment loud and clear, by posting a decidedly raunchy (by Instagram standards, anyway) snap taken by the model, featuring André haphazardly posing nude on a sofa – with nothing but an emoji shielding onlookers from his dick.
Their clothes are strewn around on the floor, Ratajkowski posing bare-bottomed in the background, visible only from a mirror. There’s only one message to be gleaned from all this, and it’s impossible to misinterpret: these two just had sex. And by the looks of it, they had a great time doing it – so much so that they took a cheeky picture in the aftermath, and decided to post it later.
The public’s response to the post, of course, was mixed. One common thread among all the discourse was sheer disbelief that a supermodel like EmRata would be in a relationship with the comedian, which betrays a near-universal truth that women fancy funny guys. Not to mention André is a good-looking funny guy, and it seems bizarre to pretend otherwise.
Then there were those who felt like the photo was a little OTT, a little too horny for public consumption. Among this camp, opinions were split even further, suggesting the picture was simply gross, or that such a private moment should have remained between the couple.
I, for one, think the whole thing is good fun. In a culture that seems to oscillate between complete apathy for sex and merely signaling sex without even having it, André’s post seems as close to making a case for actual sex as one could ever expect from celebrities and social media.
We’re not talking about some milquetoast couple here, either. This kind of thing isn’t entirely disconnected from their public personas. Emily Ratajkowski is arguably one of the sexiest, most famous women of the moment, and Eric André has shown the world his actual, uncensored dick on several occasions. I’ve seen it on Instagram before it was quickly taken down. This is precisely a couple who should proudly be asserting that they are, indeed, fucking, particularly in light of recent paparazzi photos showing the pair strolling around together.
Still, perhaps there’s something to interpret from this whole fiasco.
The essence of the photo is carefree, off-the-cuff. Fine, EmRata is far better looking than most of us. Her and André’s living room is no doubt much nicer than ours. Maybe the whole thing was staged. Either way, it’s a far cry from the curated subtlety that has dominated our Insta-feeds for the last several years. Plus, André posted the photo – not Ratajkowski. He’s got a history of posting zany images. It’s on brand and, as such, rarely criticised, while women like Ratajkowski are only allowed to signal sex, never boldly identifying themselves as having it.
Another interesting caveat to this hard launch is that, from what I can tell, it wasn’t a hard launch as we know it. Typically, one would assume such a post is an obvious declaration of exclusive commitment, but both are allegedly still on dating apps. How they define their relationship remains a personal matter between the pair, which almost makes the picture André posted feel, well, radical. Ultimately, I am grateful to the duo for doing what celebs ought to do best: being fun, looking hot, and stirring up controversy.