In case you’re not familiar with Billie Eilish, in the past five or six years she’s become one of the biggest alternative pop stars in the world. She’s 19-years-old and has already won 7 Grammy Awards including Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year. She was Spotify’s most streamed female artist in 2020, beating out Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande. So she’s a really huge star and naturally that means it’s time to cancel her.
Last week someone named Lena posted a TikTok video of her using an anti-Asian slur when she was 13 or 14 in the context of singing a song that used the word. In another clip she was talking in a way that sounded like a mockery of Asian language. The TikTok went viral and has been viewed more than a million times. It’s not clear who Lena is exactly. In any case, in today’s world the brief clip was enough to get one of the biggest pop stars in the world to issue a groveling apology.
“I am appalled and embarrassed and want to barf that I ever mouthed along to that word,” the 19-year-old wrote, adding that she was 13 or 14 at the time.
“This song was the only time I’d ever heard that word as it was never used around me by anyone in my family.
“Regardless of my ignorance and age at the time, nothing excuses the fact is that it was hurtful. And for that I am sorry.”
Eilish also addressed the “silly gibberish made up voice,” saying she has used the voice her whole life when talking to pets, friends and family.
“It is absolute gibberish and just me goofing around, and is in NO way an imitation of anyone or any language, accent, or culture in the SLIGHTEST,” she wrote.
How many times have we seen this now where someone says something dumb or offensive as a teenager on Twitter and then, years later, people point to it as problematic. In this case the problematic language was on video but the principle is the same. No one should be trying to cancel people for things they did when they were in Middle School. It should be taken as a given that teens say stupid and offensive things. Yes, all of them. Anyone born before 1990 can thank their lucky stars there was no social media or cell phone cameras around when we were kids.
Usually the way this goes is that the person accusing someone else of being problematic refuses to accept the apology or denounces it as insufficient. But in this case it seems that Lena (whoever that is) thought Eilish had said enough. She posted a response today saying “guys look she finally addressed this!!! im glad. its understandable and its good she finally said something. its been so many years and yeah im glad again :)”
I think that means Eilish is off the social justice hook, at least with her initial accuser. We’ll have to wait and see if other critics choose to let it go or decide to scour her life history back to elementary school looking for further evidence she’s racist. Like most people accused of this sort of thing, Eilish isn’t racist, she was just a dumb kid saying things she didn’t fully understand.
It would be nice if Eilish, who has made a name for herself as an activist and outspoken Democrat, would use her considerable influence to tell people to ease up on the woke witch hunts and maybe offer people a little grace instead of perpetuating the cycle where everyone is expected to cower in fear of being canceled.