On her new track ‘Wish You Were Gay,’ Billie Eilish vainly flaunts her heterosexual privilege.
Eilish, who’s 17, first penned the song three years ago (the song’s lyrics are quite obviously written by a 14-year-old), but until now her better judgment kept her from releasing it. The song is a prime example of homophobic and heteronormative practices rampant within our society, such as queerbaiting and the objectification of gay men by straight women.
The song details Eilish’s attraction to a heterosexual man that does not reciprocate her affections. Eilish, unable to conceive of a single valid reason why a potential suitor may not be infatuated with her, laments that she wishes her crush were gay. In response to controversy sparked by the song, Eilish said that it wasn’t meant to be insulting. In proving that she doesn’t comprehend why people are so adamantly opposed to the track, she stated: “It literally means that I wish he was gay so he didn’t like me for an actual reason instead of the fact the he didn’t like me.” How vain does one need to be to assume the only possible reason for one not being attracted to them is that the individual is not attracted to their entire gender?
Upon announcement of the song’s title, audiences became thrilled with the prospect of a new sapphic anthem, such as Deeply by Screaming Females, or Sunday Roast by Courtney Barnett. Many speculated that Eilish may have been using the song to come out; instead, when the track dropped, Eilish’s true moral integrity became brazenly apparent, and she added herself to the list of people utilizing queerbaiting to sell their products.
Queerbaiting, the process of hinting at, but not actually depicting, a same-sex romantic relationship, is a flagrant problem in all forms of popular media. Films such as Black Panther (as well as a plethora of other Marvel films), TV shows like Supernatural, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels and films, and plays such as Blood Relations by Sharon Pollock are just a few among the many examples of contemporary works that shamelessly deploy this tactic. Queer audiences are marketed to with hints of queer relationships and storylines that ultimately become entirely subtextutalized, so as to avoid being visible to those that would respond with homophobia.
While the song is indicative of queerbaiting, its source material is representative of other problematic trends prevalent in popular media, such as homosexual men being fetishized and used as tools to make straight women feel better about themselves. The man who originally inspired the song by not reciprocating Eilish’s affections was in fact homosexual. Eilish used this as an excuse to drop the highly problematic song three years after its conception, boast about her own perceived proactiveness, and brag about pressuring her recently out-of-the-closet gay friend into having casual sex with a man: “he just came out to me a couple of weeks ago. So fucking, I did that shit! I wrote the song and made him fuck a dude. I’m fucking proud, bro.”
Eilish is still quite young and has a whole career ahead of her. I, for one, am hoping she uses this experience to learn from her mistakes, to be more morally conscious and respectful of any marginalized groups she chooses to write about in future songs, and to be a better friend to other queer individuals she may have in her life.