What happens on the internet, stays on the internet—forever. It’s a lesson that Billie Eilish recently learned the hard way, when an old video of her lip-syncing anti-Asian slurs circulated on TikTok.
The clip in question—shared by a TikTok user named Lena—showed the 19-year-old Grammy-winning singer-songwriter mouthing along to the song ‘Fish’ by Tyler, the Creator, which contains derogatory terms for Asians in its lyrics.
The TikTok video also showed Eilish speaking in a manner that many viewers perceived to be mocking Asian accent. Needless to say, the post went viral and her fans demanded a response.
“there’s a video edit going around of me when I was 13 or 14 where i mouthed a word from a song that at that time I didn’t know was a derogatory used against members of the asian community,” Eilish wrote in an Instagram story on Monday.
The singer also wrote that she was “speaking in a silly gibberish made up voice,” something she claimed to have done since childhood when talking to pets, friends and family. Eilish added that it was “in NO way an imitation of anyone or any language, accent, or culture in the SLIGHTEST. anyone who knows me has seen me goofing around with voices my whole life.”
Rise in Anti-Asian Sentiments
The pandemic has given rise to anti-Asian sentiments and hate crimes. Celebrities, influencers, civil rights institutions and nonprofits have started public awareness campaigns and denounced racist incidents. Even high fashion magazines such as Harper’s BAZAAR US, fashion designers Anna Sui and Prabal Gurung, as well as luxury brands like Valentino and Burberry have come out in support of Asian communities with their “#StopAsianHate” campaigns on social media.
Related article: Calls To #StopAsianHate Take Over Social Media
Celebrities, especially those with larger platforms, have come under fire for their past actions and are expected to use their privilege for social good. Which is also what Eilish ended her apology with: “i not only believe in, but have always worked hard to use my platform to fight for inclusion, kindness, tolerance, equity and equality.”