The problem with Billie Eilish’s Roe v. Wade intervention

25 June 2022

6:59 PM

25 June 2022

6:59 PM

The words ‘dark day’ went viral yesterday — in response to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in America. Women and men the world over took to social media and the airwaves to say that the news was a great leap backwards for humanity.

Almost nobody bothered to read the court’s opinion, of course, or even beyond the first two paragraphs of any news story on this actually rather complicated legal subject. But why should that stop people feeling really angry?

At Glastonbury, natch, the performers did their utmost to speak to the sombre mood while still somehow having fun. Billie Eilish, the headline act, said: ‘Today is a really, really dark day for women in the US’. The 20-year-old was speaking for all women everywhere — apart, that is, for the significant number across the world who oppose abortion on demand. ‘I’m just going to say that because I can’t bear to think about it any longer,’ she added.

It was not Billie’s first foray into politics. She campaigned for Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention in 2020 by urging voters to choose someone who ‘shares our values… It starts with voting against Donald Trump and for Joe Biden.’

Clearly she takes her role as an ambassador for young values seriously. But it’s interesting that Eilish seems so bothered about ‘darkness’ — given her whole schtick seems to be about introversion, vanity and gloom. ‘You should see me in a crown,’ is one of her songs — and as she sang it last night a big white screen showed a massively creepy spider dancing about. But that’s just art, I suppose. The real darkness is in the Supreme Court.

‘Don’t judge anyone,’ Eilish also said, earlier in her routine, as she gave out mental health instructions to the grateful crowd. I wonder if she thinks that people who feel passionately that human life is sacred and begins at conception should be judged? It’s not necessarily a dark day for them.

To any rational person who spends longer than 30 seconds considering the matter away from Instagram, it should be obvious that abortion — and particularly the legally highly contentious Roe verdict of 1973 —is a profound and complex matter.

At Glasto, however, the moral universe is simple — and very, very smug. Earlier, the artist Phoebe Bridgers did a similar ‘protest’ about the day’s big news. ‘This is my first time here. It’s surreal and amazing but I’m having a real ****** day,’ she said.

She cursed the ‘old’ Supreme Court justices ‘who try to tell us what to do with our bodies’.

What’s funny is how all these people, these Billies and Phoebes — and the millions of wannabe Billies and Phoebes — so often insist that they are tired of being silent. When were they ever silent about anything?

But this is just what happens when self-obsession eats politics. Yesterday, a woman on MSNBC summed up the mood nicely: ‘it feels like feels like a betrayal. It feels like the country doesn’t love me. Or appreciate my body.’

There it is. The question of when a human life becomes a human life — or how liberal society should balance that with a woman’s rights — is reduced to braindead vapidities about feeling loved and whether or not the world shows sufficient regard for ‘my body.’

If Glastonbury festival goers want to reflect further on darkness, perhaps they should think about Volodymyr Zelensky’s appearance at Glastonbury yesterday. Zelensky, who is a performer by background, has become the must-have act at the big events this year — the Grammys, Cannes Film Festival, and now Glasto. Imagine all the frantic booking calls going to and from Kyiv!

Zelensky’s country is fighting a war that could define the future of Europe, thousands keep dying, but what’s really important is that we get to clap him live via video link.

Pete Doherty led a chant of ‘Ohhh Volodymyr Zelensky’ to the tune of ‘Ohhh Jeremy Corbyn’, the popular Glasto refrain circa 2017. The special Zelensky moonbeam appearance is at best odd, as my colleague Gus Carter suggested yesterday. But it might also be quite ‘dark’ — a sinister expression of how much we show we care to cover up our fundamental silliness and apathy.

Sing for your missiles Vlod, otherwise we might just forget all about you. Keep your people dying for our nebulous values while we prat about in fields listening to crap music. Just don’t come for our bodies.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments