Billie Eilish apologises for mouthing racist word in old video

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Billie Eilish during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US, February 9, 2020. Image Credit: REUTERS

Singer Billie Eilish has had a taste of the adage ‘the internet never forgets’ after she faced backlash over an old video that recently went viral.

The 19-year-old on Monday apologised over the clip where she appears to be mouthing a racist slur against Asian people. She said it was from around when she was 13 or 14.

“I mouthed a word from a song that at the time I didn’t know was a derogatory term used against members of the Asian community. I am appalled and embarrassed,” Eilish wrote in a statement posted on Instagram — like so many apologies go these days. “The fact is that it was hurtful. And for that I am sorry.”

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Billie Eilish performs at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on July 9, 2019. Image Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times

The clip in question was shared earlier this month in a TikTok video posted by a user named Lena and shows the Grammy winning star mouthing along to the track ‘Fish’, by Tyler, the Creator, which features a derogatory term for Asian people in its lyrics.

“This song was the only time I’d ever heard that word as it was never used around me by anyone in my family,” Eilish added.

Eilish also addressed another clip where she is seen speaking in a “silly gibberish made up voice” and defended herself saying it was something she had done for years.

“[It is] 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,” she said. “Regardless of how it was interpreted I did not mean for any of my actions to have caused hurt to others.”

The ‘Ocean Eyes’ singer said in her post: “I not only believe in, but have always worked hard to use my platform to fight for inclusion, kindness, tolerance, equity and equality.”

In the recent past, there has been an uptick of anti-Asian crimes and online hate, which in turn has led to more active social awareness around this issue. Eilish isn’t the only person being called out for past actions. Model and social media celebrity Chrissy Teigen has faced fierce backlash for past tweets and messages where she has bullied and harassed others.