‘Big Dick Energy’ is a thing because people needed to explain Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson

June 26, 2018 0 By Nazmul Khan


The internet’s obsession with ponytailed pop sensation Ariana Grande has spawned a surprisingly resonant concept: “big dick energy.” Once you’ve read the words, they stick with you, almost demanding to be spoken out loud. Although having a large penis has long been a symbol of traditional cis masculinity and power, big dick energy both references and transcends that idea — it’s not about having a penis at all.

Rihanna? Big dick energy. Cardi B? Big dick energy. Cate Blanchett? Big dick energy. It’s not just stars, though. On Twitter, hundreds of people are drafting up a taxonomy of what big dick energy is and who actually has it. Merely having a hefty wang or being a household name does not grant you big dick energy, but as with so many intangible labels, people seem to know it when they see it.

But back to Grande: Earlier this month, gossip sites were reporting that the pop star was engaged to SNL star Pete Davidson. Fans were immediately shook. For one, Grande had just publicly announced her split with rapper Mac Miller, whom she had been dating for years. But the thing that really got people talking was that Grande and Davidson had reportedly only been dating for a few weeks before the engagement. The internet was baffled: it only took them weeks to make such a serious commitment? Did these stars really find love in the same amount of time that it takes most of us to admit that we should finally just do our laundry already?

Part of the collective bewilderment was that someone like Grande, the closest thing we have to a human Barbie doll, was settling down with someone whose everyman looks didn’t seem to match. The undertone to the gossip was pretty much… him? And so the pair started trending on social media. Fans were happy for them, yes, but they also had questions.

While all of this was unfolding, Grande also took time to promote her upcoming album, Sweetener, which will reportedly have an interlude devoted to Davidson. On Twitter, a fan innocently asked how long this interlude would be, and Grande responded by seemingly revealing Davidson’s penis size. The tweet has since been deleted, but screenshots remain.


The joke was scandalous enough to spark conversations, and provided a superficial explanation for what drew the stars together. Then Twitter user @babyvietcong took it one step further, pulling the phrase “big dick energy” from an early June tweet by @imbobswaget and applying the label to Pete Davidson. The joke went viral, accruing hundreds of thousands of engagements on Twitter alone.

You might think, wait a minute, doesn’t this make big dick energy explicitly about dick size? Yes and no. In Davidson’s case, it is partly literal — at least based on Grande’s tweets. But that’s not entirely how people are explaining his appeal. “Energy” is the important word here. Like Kanye West’s “dragon energy” before it, this is about vibe, not just physical size or power.

Big dick energy’s intangible quality is part of why people can’t stop talking about it. It is a designation, yes, but also an inquiry. People want to know what qualifies you for big dick energy, and part of the fun is debating what it means to you. Vibes, after all, are hugely subjective. I might like it when love interests are playful jerks to me, but that might turn someone else off. And so it’s difficult to give an exact definition of what big dick energy is, other than to say anyone can have it. The internet is certainly wasting no time with making proclamations and arguments about BDE. It’s like the sexual version of Yanny or Laurel.

But perhaps the thing that clarifies what big dick energy means the most is Davidson himself. In a hilarious interview with Jimmy Fallon last week, Davidson talks about how the public responded to the news of the engagement.

“I feel like I won a contest,” Davidson says. “It’s fucking lit, Jimmy. It’s so funny walking down the street, because dudes are walking by and they [tip their hats at me].” According to Davidson, one man even told him that the engagement gave him hope for his own prospects.

“I didn’t know I was that ugly!” Davidson joked.

What happened next is a moment that perfectly distills Davidson’s appeal. Although ostensibly on the talk show to promote his new movie, Davidson instead spends most of the interview talking about how much he loves Robert Pattinson’s 2017 thriller, Good Time. “I think he’s one of the greatest actors of our generation,” Davidson beams, before revealing that he’s watched the movie dozens of times. He then asks Jimmy Fallon to play a clip of Good Time, and the host is astounded. “This is already out on DVD,” Fallon objects, noting that the show typically spends time on new material. The clip plays anyway. By the end, Davidson is clapping. He then opens up his flannel shirt and reveals that he’s wearing Pattinson’s face while sitting next to the actual Pattinson, who is of course eating it all up.

This is big dick energy, at least in my estimation: being sent to talk about how great your new project is, not giving a damn, and instead largely using that time to tell people about how much you love someone else’s work. It is enjoying something earnestly and openly, even if it’s not to your benefit. It is having the quiet confidence that people will meet you where you live, even as you go down a weird rabbit hole. It’s shrugging off the idea that you should justify your relationship because of other people’s opinions about how you look.

“Why do people care?” Davidson asks, in regard to his engagement. “It’s very weird. It’s weird because like, the president is trying to pardon himself, and he’s fucking a porn star.”

Now that’s big dick energy.





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