The Endurance of Hollywood’s Hot Girl / Alt Guy Couples

Or, 'On Kravis.'

10 May 2021, 8:30am

As both a chronic gossip and a gooey romantic, there’s little I love more than a great Hollywood couple. To me, two well-matched celebrities are as fine a delicacy as caviar washed down with Champagne; as satisfying as a cold beer on a hot day; as harmonious as Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers recording “Islands in the Stream” in 1983. It just hits right. 

Most recently the celebrity couple occupying most of my attention has of course been Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, and “Miss Poosh if you’re nasty” herself, Kourtney Kardashian. When I first read that the rumours surrounding this classic case of drummer-meets-reluctant-reality-star were in fact true (on Deuxmoi, for my sins), the words “oh my god I love that” emerged from a place at the core of my being, and out of my mouth, even though I was just looking at my phone in the dark, and nobody else was there. 

Kourtney and Travis – hereafter known as Kravis – are the type of couple who make you not only believe in the universe’s powers of symmetry, but exalt in them; the type of couple, in fact, who feel so made for each other that it’s genuinely surprising they didn’t get together sooner. And I think this feeling of destiny is so strong because Kravis feel like the platonic ideal of a Hollywood tradition which is experiencing a current renaissance: the romantic union of the Alt Guy and the Hot Girl.

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Loosely defined, the alt guy/hot girl relationship is comprised of a guy who is famous for being in a band that plays pop-punk or an adjacent genre (for example, metals ‘nu’ and ‘hair’)  and having a bunch of tattoos, and a woman who is often a pop singer, an actress or a reality star (or, increasingly, a social media celebrity), and is therefore beautiful in a mainstream sense. Some historic examples include Travie McCoy (of Gym Class Heroes) and Katy Perry, Pete Wentz (of Fall Out Boy) and Ashlee Simpson, and Bret Michaels (the lead singer of cock rock’s own Poison) and the entire cast of Rock of Love seasons one to three.* 

Famous people, of course, have been dating each other since celebrity itself has existed – and indeed, even before that. Throw it all the way back to 1533, and you’ll see that even then, Henry VIII – famously the King of England – was risking it all for a then-rising star of the court, Anne Boleyn. So it’s not exactly groundbreaking to say that celebrity musicians date other celebrities, because they have for decades. But as rockers’ looks became more self-consciously “alternative” (tattoos, piercings, safety pins on the lapels of blazers for some reason), the aesthetic of a band guy in a trilby placed alongside the Hollywood glamour of a famous girlfriend – anachronistically, at first glance – informed what would become the alt guy/hot girl relationship type.

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The first real alt guy/hot girl boom, as I see it, took place in the mid-to-late 2000s. Around this time, you’d see velour clad starlets – Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Ashlee Simpson, for example – “stepping out” with band members from Fall Out Boy, Good Charlotte, and Sum 41. While it’s not the main factor here, I will digress to say that there’s a degree to which I think that these couples enjoyed media popularity because in a way, they kind of conformed to a narrative pedalled by American romantic comedies of the 2000s onwards. These movies – 10 Things I Hate About You and Bring It On are good examples of what I mean, and both are, interestingly, also soundtracked by pop-punk or similar genres – encourage their audiences to root for the alternative outsider to get the girl, and the alt guy/hot girl couple feels like the real life mirror to that (even though often, these dudes were extremely wealthy and handsome themselves). 

At large, though, these pairings were exciting to people who consumed celebrity media purely because they were so novel. Plus, for emo-leaning teens who were also nursing reality TV obsessions (shout out me), they captured the imagination because they brought together all of the aspects of culture we cared about.

Fast-forward to now, and my fellow children of MySpace and I are now Adults on Twitter and Instagram (cheugy :(), experiencing another buzzy moment for alt guy/hot girl couples (see: Kravis, Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox, Andrew WK and Kat Dennings; also: the successful marriages of Good Charlotte’s Madden brothers to Cameron Diaz and Nicole Richie). This is possibly happening because, as Mia Mercado recently put it for The Cut, the post-pandemic dating scene will give way to a “summer of unexpected love.” It’s also undoubtedly because these women live in Hollywood and are surrounded by actors and Scott Disick, which would be enough to drive anyone into the arms of a wealthy and successful musician.  

For consumers of celebrity, this latest alt guy/hot girl boom resurgence is great fun. It feels like a throwback to a time which, in general, is currently back in vogue: you can buy Juicy Couture sweatpants and UGG boots at Urban Outfitters now, while younger artists from Willow Smith to TikTok’s jxdn have recently been dabbling in pop-punk. For celebrity culture itself to be mirroring this renewed interest, then, feels like a feat of serendipity. 

I won’t sit here and say that couples like Kravis or Dennings and WK take us back to a simpler time or anything like that, because that is not true: we are in the mess we are in, and there is no going back. I think more realistically, though, these new alt guy/hot girl pairings are just a reminder of how fun celebrity culture can still be, in a time when, like, the “Imagine” video exists. The entire point of celebrities is that they should be enjoyable to engage with – and what’s more enjoyable than an unlikely romance? 

So give me alt guys and hot girls in their droves: their tattoos of each others names; the photos of her wearing his hoodie; the mushy, publicity courting Instagram comments. I’ll even take the finger-sucking videos.  

*Thank you to my colleague Hatti Rex for her encyclopedic Rock of Love insights. 

Tagged:

Hollywood, Travis Barker, Kourtney Kardashian, romance, couples

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