Culture

Billie Eilish Must Be Held Accountable

By Kate Gruetter

Culture Editor

Singer-songwriter Billie Eilish is known for many things: her music, her impressive voice, and her numerous achievements. Thrust into the spotlight at only 13 years old, the star first gained attention for her hit single Ocean Eyes in 2016, which her older brother, Finneas, wrote and produced. At the age of 19 the star boasts two albums and an EP, along with seven Grammy awards. However, the star’s fame and young age do little to excuse her recent offensive behavior on the internet. These actions call for one reaction: accountability. 

The star has been called out by social media users repeatedly in the past year for utilising AAVE (African American Vernacular English)  and appropriating Black culture. Eilish’s style consists of Jordan’s, baggy clothing, chains and eccentric acrylic nails, fashion pieces popularized by Black people in the 80s and 90s. Additionally, the singer has used AAVE on live Instagram stories and in interviews. Eilish benefits off of appropriating Black culture, but she refuses to apologize despite being called out by fans multiple times. As Black artists are continuously sidelined in the music industry due to racism and prejudice, a white singer refusing to acknowledge that they are profiting off of Black culture, without any blowback, is frustrating and unacceptable. 

Billie Eilish performing at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards.

Placing herself in the eye of the storm once again, in June Eilish captioned the Instagram promotion for her new song Lost Cause: “i love girls.” Posted during pride month, the post’s message calls for accountability; it reduces an entire community into one thing: profit. Even if she was part of the community, which has never been confirmed or discussed, the post was obviously shared to bring attention to her new song and Album. Eilish’s post allowed her to direct curiousity towards herself and therefore her new album, reducing something as beautiful and unique as the queer community into something she manipulated for monetary gain. Featuring provocative photos, the post was not a shoutout to loving or appreciating friends, it was straight-up queerbaiting. In an industry where LGBTQ+ artists are few and far between, teasing at diversity is cruel and disheartening, especially when it is for selfish motivations. 

Despite her young age, Eilish has been repeatedly called out by social media users for blatantly problematic actions that could be easily resolved with an apology or empathetic explanation. Being 19 years-old does not excuse offensive actions like appropriating culture and queerbaiting, actions that do not only harm communities, but also perpetuate invalidation. Although not all problematic actions call for direct accountability; Eilish’s do. Her offenses are hurtful, unresolved, and set a poor example for young fans and other rising musicians. The party is finally over, and Eilish needs to go along with it. 

(Sources: Wikipedia, Newsweek, Voxatl, Oxford Dictionary)

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