Why We’re All Rooting for Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker

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Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos Getty
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos Getty

It’s a tale as old as time: Edgy musician meets glamorous actress or model. They date. She starts wearing more black (if she didn’t already have an edge herself), and he starts popping up on various red carpets that previously might have given him the same look as those stuck-up friends Avril Lavigne is singing about in “Sk8er Boi.” Before you know it they’re married and welcoming kids with names like “Harlow” and “Raddix.” 

The latest couple to successfully embrace this lifestyle trope of the rich and famous? Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker, whose engagement news broke Monday after months of DIY tattoos and graphic PDA. After years of watching my favorite Kardashian sister’s exhausting “will they, won’t they” with a certain pomade enthusiast who now seems incapable of dating women his own age, I gotta say... I’m feeling this!

The finger-sucking, koala-hugging journey of #Kravis has unfolded in tandem with another conspicuous A-list couple: Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly (legal name: Colson Baker), whose late-2020 album Tickets to My Downfall the Blink-182 drummer helped write and produce. 

Watch: Megan Fox - Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker are a perfect match

Fox and Baker linked up in mid-2020, just months before Travis Barker reportedly picked Kourtney Kardashian up on their very first date. The four went on a double date to an MMA fight in March and in September they made out in a bathroom at the VMAs—in front of what must be the world’s most aphrodisiac urinal cakes. Then came that steamy Skims campaign.

As someone who grew up on People I am in full support of any and all celebricouples borrowing from the Bennifer playbook and being as exhibitionist as possible. Performative butt-patting and staged paparazzi shots bring me nothing but joy. And interviews about just how much these two impossibly wealthy people with nice skin love one another? Honestly, just put them in a beer bong and let me glug them all down like an Us Weekly-obsessed frat bro. 

Why Is Machine Gun Kelly a Thing?

There’s something satisfying about watching Kardashian and Fox live their best, loudest lives. As “I am weed” recently demonstrated, Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly’s interviews can still spawn memes that last for days if not weeks. But somewhere between the blood necklace—a throwback to Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton if there ever was one—and the “twin flame” thing, and that recent British GQ interview, Megan and the Machine have started to look a little... well, thirsty? If nothing else, it feels like a dance that gossip enthusiasts have seen many times before. (Also, no offense to MGK, but part of me has to believe that the star of Jennifer’s Body deserves better than a guy who spends his time picking fights with the Slipknot guys. But you know, love is love!)

Watch: Kris Jenner congratulates Kourtney Kardashian on her engagement

Travis Barker Talks Blink 182 Reunion, Plane Crash, Death Of DJ AM, More

But something about Kravis Bardashian feels singular to this generation; if Southern California were a high school, these two would be the couple that makes no sense on paper but runs away with the crowns at prom anyway. Their pairing might not be an entirely unique phenomenon—just ask Joel and Benji Madden—but has the formula ever been perfected to this degree? 

As someone who spent most of her teen years dehydrated in mosh pits and her college years listening to the drone of Keeping Up with the Kardashians while doing homework, I am perhaps primed to feel this way. Watching the guy who’s spent years drumming from a flying platform over the heads of countless parched teens hook up with the woman whose family ushered in an entirely new tier of celebrity honestly feels like once-in-a-lifetime shit. Listening to the drummer gush on The Drew Barrymore Show about being a dad and how wonderful it feels to finally date a fellow parent—who also happens to be a member of what Cosmo once controversially dubbed, “America’s First Family?” What can I say, it tickles me! And getting engaged after just a few months of dating (granted, after a reported years-long friendship)? It all has the manic, Peter Pan-inflected energy of, say, falling in love with the girl at the rock show.

The core appeal of this relationship—and what perhaps sets it apart from Fox and MGK and others—might also come from the vulnerability Barker occasionally has expressed throughout. (That is, when he and Kardashian’s lips have parted for air.) Most of what we know about the couple and their relationship has come from Instagram and the usual constellation of “friends” and “sources,” and Kardashian has not given interviews on the subject. Instead, her now-fiancé has shared how “invincible” she makes him feel—enough to confront his lingering trauma from a devastating plane crash that killed two of his friends and board a plane for the first time since 2008.

“It’s still something very new to me, but having something that gives me the strength and hope to be able to overcome things that were so traumatic in my life, it just says a ton,” Barker told Nylon in a recent profile. “She’s definitely that for me. I’m invincible when I’m with her. It’s like I never dreamed I never even considered flying again.”

The art of being a celebrity couple, like that of being a celebrity in the first place, is to project a perfectly calculated image that feels effortless. There’s always the chance that Barker and Kardashian’s romance, and their ongoing spiritual double-date with Fox and MGK, is just that—an act designed to sell underwear, albums, and who knows what else. But at the risk of exposing myself as a sucker in retrospect months or years from now, something about this whirlwind has felt real. Barker and Kardashian’s images, at least, feel distinct but compatible—like two pieces of a puzzle that don’t seem like they should fit until you rotate one 90 degrees and everything snaps into place. Let’s just hope Travis never interrupts their constant making out to turn on the TV—or prank call Kris Jenner.

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