Billie Eilish’s ‘Lost Cause’ Video Isn’t Queerbaiting, You’re Just Sexualizing Her — Again

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Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish has found herself at the center of a "queerbaiting" controversy after releasing the video for her newest single, “Lost Cause.”

The music video features the 19-year-old singer as she is joined by a group of friends for a slumber party.

The girls spend the video dancing, eating snacks and playing Twister in a way that many who've viewed it have deemed sensual.

Some feel the video hints at same-sex attraction as a marketing ploy intended to titilate and therefore attract views, while others are defending the "Bad Guy" singer from such accusations of queerbaiting.

What is "queerbaiting"?

Queerbaiting is a term meant to describe the phenomenon of TV shows, films or artists hinting at, but not actually depicting, same-sex attraction or other LGBTQ representation.

It is seen as a marketing tactic that feigns representation in order to attract or “bait” members of the LGBTQ community, capitalizing off of them by offering a promise of representation that is never fulfilled while maintaining a traditional heterosexual audience.

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Why is Billie Eilish being accused of queerbaiting?

As mentioned above, the video for "Lost Cause" is set in an all-female slumber party, with Eilish's guests partaking in activities some believe to be queerbaiting.

Some felt that the singer was reducing same-sex relationships between women to girls frolicking around at a slumber party and, therefore, delegitimizing queer women.

Eilish added fuel to the fire when she posted a series of images from the video on Instagram with the caption, “I love girls.”

The post ignited speculation about whether or not Eilish was coming out — or if she was queerbaiting.

The backlash is understandable but, perhaps, misdirected.

Yes, there is plenty of misrepresentation of same-sex attraction between women, but there is also a common misunderstanding about what female friendships look like.

Both issues seem to be at play in the charged reactions to Eilish’s video.

In a culture that hypersexualizes women and girls, something Eilish is all too familiar with, it becomes hard to view women dancing and playing together as anything but sexual — even if doing so is an unfair representation of female friendship.

Viewing the “Lost Cause” music video in this way is looking at the footage through the male gaze, which assumes women are only sexual objects.

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However, this same gaze also tarnishes the depiction of same-sex attraction between women.

It makes sense that some of Eilish’s critics are sensitive to the argument that the video is simply friends having fun, since sapphic relationships are often not seen as real relationships and are viewed as girls "just having fun.”

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Some fans have insisted on some kind of clarification from Eilish, demanding that she either explicitly come out or address the queerbaiting accusations.

But this hostility is, once again, unfairly directed.

Eilish has never specifically labeled her sexuality. Any accusations of queerbaiting assume that Eilish is heterosexual, which may not be the case even if she has only had public relationships with men.

Eilish, or anyone else, doesn’t owe strangers an explicit explanation of her sexuality.

Insisting that she reveal whether or not she’s in any way queer creates an environment in which people feel forced to come out.

And as for the “I love girls” part, let’s not discourage women or anyone else from expressing love for women for fear of being accused of queerbaiting.

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her on Twitter for more.