Now Reading: Billie Eilish’s Fan Photo Shows That We Need to Stop Dehumanizing Celebrities


Billie Eilish’s Fan Photo Shows That We Need to Stop Dehumanizing Celebrities

March 19, 20197 min read

Recently, pop star and fashion icon Billie Eilish has been in hot water for a questionable photo with a fan at one of her show meet-and-greets.

At celebrity meet and greets, it is a common practice to have a predetermined pose that you would like. Most fans go for a simple hug or the Charlie’s Angels gun pose, but this fan had something else in mind. Her now-deleted tweet showed the “bury a friend” singer groping the fan’s chest and smiling with the fan. The fan’s tweet said, “grab dem boobs wife” with the side-eye emoji.

Both the fan and Eilish seem to be amused by the situation, but later on, Eilish posted this on her Instagram story:

Eilish’s Instagram story.

This all occurred just days before Eilish released the studio version of her long-anticipated single “wish you were gay.”

Fans have brought up the question: who is at fault? There is a dichotomy in responses: one half blames Eilish while the other half blames the fan. A common thread between both sides is that both the fan and the singer are underage, which makes the situation much creepier.

This also brings up the ever important topic of the constant dehumanization of celebrities. We see it every day: celebrities being grabbed by strangers in public, prodded about relationships, and put on lists that rate their beauty. The idea of paying to have a thirty-second human interaction with someone is absurd itself.

While Billie Eilish is a public figure many admire, it gives fans no right to disrespect her. By thinking we can ask celebrities we want to do whatever we want, even in an instance where we pay money to meet them, is unrealistic and holds them up to higher standards. There’s nothing more dehumanizing than believing you can ask and deserve to have one of your favorite singers do any pose you want because you help financially support a person. Celebrities owe you nothing. None of them are robots, they have emotions like the rest of us, and it is quite obvious Eilish was somewhat bothered by her fan’s outlandish requests.

But famous people should be used to this, right? Isn’t that what they signed up for when they booked their first gig or wrote their name on the dotted line of a promising record deal? Wrong. Singers just want to sing, actors just want to act, and so on. All of the other excess obligations are not at the forefront.

We live in a society where if not normalized than it is encouraged to put celebrities on a pedestal and idolize them. In K-pop, famous band members are called idols. There are high-budget “reality” television shows that follow celebs around going to events and running errands so viewers can feel like flies on the wall, watching to see what their favorites get up to. While this may seem like fun and games, it is a serious problem.

Because of celebrity culture, we are taught that those we see on red carpets aren’t real people and that we deserve to meet them, even if that means showing up to their house and invading their privacy, solely because we got them to where they are in the present.

James’ brother, Ian, made a tweet pleading for privacy when he goes out to eat.

Dehumanizing celebrities is not only morally incorrect but harmful. When celebrities go through these experiences, it taints their perception of fans as a whole and can cause them to be more wary of situations they put themselves in. After a security scare during Justin Bieber’s Purpose tour, the singer decided to cancel all fan meet-and-greets. This caused an uproar with fans and the media, but at what cost? There are only so many times people can plaster a fake smile in awkward situations they are forced to be in.

So, what can we do about this phenomenon? The first would be understanding that (say it with me) celebrities are people too. They have emotions and go through tough times, just like the rest of us. As fans, we need to be more alert to at how we look at the celebs we follow and admire. As fans and spectators, they do not owe us anything in return for their fame. As fans, we do not deserve to know who they are dating or what’s happening in their personal life. As fans, we need to remember that at the end of the day, celebrities are not our dolls we can boss around to satisfy our every whim.

Celebrities are human beings and deserved to be treated like ones.

Featured image by Justin Higuchi.

08/27/2019 – UPDATE: It has been revealed that Eilish’s Instagram story was not about the aforementioned fan in the meet and greet photo. Instead, it was posted as a response to multiple requests from other fans to do similar poses with Eilish after the original photo was posted. Both Eilish and the fan were aware and consented to the pose.

08/31/2019 – UPDATE: At the request of Billie Eilish and the fan, the photo has been removed from the article.

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Daryl Perry

Daryl is a 19-year-old filmmaker, journalist, and photography enthusiast. He also writes for the University of Maryland's The Diamondback and The Campus Trainer.