The term queerbaiting—in which relationships between LGBTQ+ characters are teased to reel in audiences with no plans to ever follow through—is usually used in reference to fictional characters. But some Billie Eilish fans are saying that Eilish is queerbaiting them following her latest music video and a recent Instagram post.
Earlier this month, Eilish released the music video for her latest single, “Lost Cause.” The video features Eilish and her friends in the midst of a slumber party. They’re lounging in a house and on a bed together, eating junk food, shooting silly string and water at each other, playing Twister, and performing several TikTok dances. Eilish is singing about an ex who doesn’t have his act together and didn’t treat her the way she treated him. Eilish directed the music video herself.
A few days later, Eilish followed it up with an Instagram post that featured several behind-the-scenes photos from the “Lost Cause” music video and was simply captioned with “i love girls.”
The behind-the-scenes post, like an earlier TikTok video that gave fans a view into the filming of “Lost Cause” (and censored a potential wardrobe malfunction), are meant to promote the song. However, over the course of the past couple of weeks, some fans have taken the music video and behind-the-scenes photos as an indication that Eilish is revealing something about her sexuality—or worse, that she’s trying to trick people into thinking she’s queer with her latest music video and posts. (Eilish has not publicly come out.)
Others were bothered by the idea that some of Eilish’s fans expected her to explain her sexuality to them or act a certain way; they felt that Eilish is entitled to her privacy with regards to her sexuality no matter what that might mean.
And some took issue with the word “queerbaiting” being used at all with regards to Eilish when it’s usually tied to fictional characters and LGBTQ+ representation in media versus actual people.
“people are getting mad at me for saying billie eilish isnt queerbaiting but as someone who is heavily anti ‘come out culture’ i just dont think ill ever be on board with defining a real person as ‘queer baiting,’” @saoirse_idk tweeted. “I think it should be used for fictional characters not real people and especially not 18 year olds trying to grow up with eyes of the world on everything they do.”
It’s not the first time that Eilish has come under fire for one of her songs: Her song “i wish you were gay” from her first album got some pushback from fans for queerbaiting. When Eilish responded to the backlash, she explained that the song is about a rejection being spun in a different light. “I don’t wanna take the L so I’m just gonna pretend that you didn’t just reject me.”
“First off I want to be so clear that it’s so not supposed to be an insult,” she told PopBuzz. “I feel like it’s been a little bit misinterpreted. I tried so hard to not make it in any way offensive. The whole idea of the song is, it’s kind of a joke. It’s kind of like “I’m an ass and you don’t love me. And you don’t love me because you don’t love me and that’s the only reason and I wish you didn’t love me because you didn’t love girls.”
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