Billie Eilish, Fame, and the Romanticism of Teen Suicide

It is no secret that when I find something I enjoy I dive into it. Ask my coworkers and friends who have sat through me talking about anything I love and they’ll tell you; “LeAnne really likes details.” Which, I take no shame in, but it can be a lot for someone who isn’t expecting it.

While working I decided to watch Billie’s new music video, “everything i wanted.” I enjoy her music a lot and thought I would just pop it on while doing some more fixing of our YouTube channel. The first small detail I noticed was that the lights of the skyscrapers are timed to the piano. The next was that Billie is blinking on beat. It’s tiny details like that I love so much.

As a fan of Billie’s, I knew about the song’s history before watching. Billie suffers from night terrors and sleep paralysis, so the theme of dreaming and nightmares is one commonly used. This song, for instance, was inspired by a dream Billie had in which she committed suicide. In the dream, her friends and coworkers had betrayed her post-death, ridiculing her with statements that nobody liked her. 

Billie Eilish explaining the video to BBCR1 via Twitter.

The single was released onto YouTube with an abstract image of the Golden Gate Bridge, which is a popular place for suicide. Billie said that the song is also about her brother caring for her and the lyric of, “As long as I’m here no one can hurt you” is a direct example of that.

However, I wasn’t expecting the video to open with the words, “finneas is my brother and my best friend. no matter the circumstances, we always have and always will be there for each other.” The lowercasing instantly let me know Billie typed this herself, as that is her style of writing. 

The camera vertically pans over an almost somber cityscape until we see Billie driving an expensive car with her brother in the passenger seat. We see a close up on both of their faces, Billie is singing and Finneas looks calm. As Billie sings they drive onto the Golden Gate Bridge, the ocean is in view through the windows. 

Finneas mouths the lyric: “as long as I’m here no one can hurt you.” They drive onto the beach and Finneas mouths the lyrics, “if I could change the way you see yourself” and “they don’t deserve you.” 

Billie floors the car into the ocean. As dark water overtakes them, Billie sings, “I tried to swim. But my head was underwater.” The car further sinks with the two holding hands: Finneas smiles, water fills the floorboards and the viewer is left in darkness.

Billie and her brother Finneas in one of the video’s final moments. (Source: Youtube/Bille Eilish)

The viewer can interpret that Billie killed herself and her brother.

It’s dark and sobering. The lyrics showing Billie’s fears around her newfound fame matched with the visuals. The metaphorical implications of this, that her fame killed her and her brother; really, it’s amazing. 

We live in a time where I believe, we as Generation Z, have been almost doomed from the start. We embrace it, of course, joking and using humor to cope. But at the end of the day, a vast majority of us have been depressed or suicidal in our short lifetimes. To us, this side of Billie is the most normal, the most relatable. 

As the older generations might fearfully look upon this video as romanization, we relate to it in an almost unexplainable way. 

I have decided to include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, 1-800-283-8255 in my conclusion of this article. It’s okay to ask for help.

(Source: Youtube/Billie Ellish)

LeAnne McPherson
Multimedia Specialist & Reporter

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