She’s a 17-year-old music prodigy who’s currently the sixth most popular artist on Spotify. She’s the first artist born in the 2000s to top the musical charts. Her music is dark, grungy, whimsical and, honestly, pretty damn weird.
She’s Billie Eilish, and most people older than her hate her (or at least claim to).
The “hatred” presents itself through proclamations on social media (particularly Reddit) that she has no talent, that she has no style, or that she’s insincere, or arrogant, or unreasonably angry.
And sure, maybe that’s true. Maybe Eilish really is an untalented snob. But that perception of her is unsubstantiated, and it isn’t the real reason people hate Eilish.
Eilish is hated because she is everything that everyone wants to be. This hatred is synonymous with a hatred of her music. Yet despite all of the abrasive rhetoric that her “haters” use, they certainly pay attention to her an awful lot.
In short, people (including myself) don’t hate her — they’re jealous of her.
In the absence of notable scandals and controversies surrounding Eilish’s career (the most political she’s been was in an ad with the mayor of Los Angeles encouraging people to vote), hatred of Eilish stems from the perception of her.
The Eilish that we see seems like she had a perfect adolescence. She’s famous, lucky enough to miss out high school trauma, surrounded by a loving entourage of family and friends, adored by the media and enigmatic in a way that would give John Green’s creative abilities a run for his money.
Even Eilish’s mistakes make her more relatable. She was 30 minutes late to her set at Coachella this year, but no really cared once she started to sing. She forgot the words to one of her songs at that same performance and almost instantly became a relatable meme.
Most teenagers don’t have the kind of privilege that comes with her wealth and power. Mistakes cost them their reputation, their grades and, at times, their future.
All of this privilege and clout distort the perception of Eilish’s humanity. She appears invulnerable. Nevertheless, at the risk of wearing out a popular cliche — celebrities are just like us.
Eilish might appear invulnerable, but she isn’t. It might seem like every mistake she makes is forgiven, but they probably aren’t. She’s 17 years old.
Regardless of how she’s viewed, like all teenagers, she has her own problems. To hold her to the high standard of invulnerability projected by far more seasoned pop stars twists the societal perception of how maturity works.
There’s a greater point to all of this that needs to be realized. It’s the cold, hard truth that, unfortunately, almost none of us are special. It’s likely that no one reading this article would be the protagonist of a lengthy novel about this century.
We’re jealous of Eilish because at least she has a shot at being a character in this story. At least she has the chance to exist in perpetuity on Spotify long after she’s gone.
The sooner we realize that most of us are destined to be forgotten, and the sooner we realize that our lives don’t have to be extraordinary to be important, the sooner we can move on with our lives and start enjoying them.
Eamon Morris PZ ’22 is from Orange, California. He wants everyone to know that he liked Billie Eilish before she was cool.