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Review: Billie Eilish's "Therefore I Am"

Posted by Axis on November 20, 2020

(Header image via YouTube)


Popular Gen Z artist Billie Eilish released “Therefore I Am” (language) on November 12 with a music video (language) that showcases a pandemic-friendly trip to the mall. Made with only an iPhone, the video features Eilish running around in what appears to be a closed-down mall while singing and eating snacks from abandoned food shops. 

Despite her previous tour cancelations, Eilish has stayed proactive by hosting politically-tinged concert live streams, shooting her music video for “No Time To Die,” creating her upcoming album, producing her documentary The World’s A Little Blurry, and now by releasing “Therefore I Am,” her third single this year. In this song, she collaborated with her brother and producer, Finneas O’Connell. Paralleling the message in her song “my future,” Eilish takes a break from expressing her political opinions to focus on her sense of individuality in “Therefore I Am.” 

Eilish gets philosophical

The chorus of Eillish’s song uses the phrase “I think therefore I am,” which is philosopher Renė Descartes’s most well-known contribution to philosophy. Descartes wrestled with whether we can ever truly know what’s real—and even whether we can truly know if we’re real.

“Descartes argued that even if we are skeptical about the existence of our physical body and environment, the self-conscious of mind still inevitably exists as ‘we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt.’”—Genius 

Descartes determined that our ability to process through ideas assures us of our existence. So no matter what I think, I am thinking—therefore I am.  

Did Eilish intend her lyrics to reflect the exact ideas Descartes asserted in his theory? Possibly, possibly not. Eilish had this to say about the song’s meaning: “This song is very, very up for interpretation...I'm very curious to see what people get from it and also what they feel when they hear it. I don't know.”

It seems like her use of the statement “I think therefore I am” is mostly just a coy way of putting down haters and establishing herself as a self-empowered person. In the full lyric, we see that she intends to expose those who are only pretending to be her friends. 

But just know 

I’m not your friend or anything, d***

You think that you’re the man

I think therefore I am

Whoever dissed Eilish is probably feeling pretty silly, as she keeps her composure and establishes herself as “the man,” aka, a powerful and self-assured woman. She’s letting everyone know that she won’t put up with anything that’s detrimental to her personal growth. 

“She’s saying that she’s the only person who can assert her existence, and nobody else’s opinions of her really matter there.”—Jenzia Burgos, stylecaster.com

Silencing the critics 

Get my pretty name outta your mouth

We are not the same with or without

Don't talk 'bout me like how you might know how I feel

As a celebrity, Eilish is bombarded with countless opinions, which she usually dodges by dressing in baggy clothes that hide her figure. And though people judge her sense of style, it gives her a mysterious edge and outlet to express herself. In an interview with Vogue, Eilish said, “It kind of gives nobody the opportunity to judge what your body looks like. I want layers and layers and layers and I want to be mysterious. You don’t know what’s underneath and you don’t know what’s on top.” 

Unfortunately, Eilish received a wave of body-shaming backlash a few weeks ago after photos were leaked on the internet of her in a tank top. People switched from making judgmental comments about her “boyish” style to saying she has a “mid-30s wine mom body.” Back in May, Billie Eilish made a short film “Not My Responsibility” where she directly addresses body-shamers. 

“While I feel your stares, your disapproval or your sighs of relief, if I lived by them, I’d never be able to move.” Billie Eilish, “Not My Responsibility

Being surrounded by others’ negative opinions can be crushing for even the strongest of people. And for celebrities, the idea of privacy and respect is an everyday battle. Paparazzi are always trying to expose their secrets, tabloids post embellished stories about their lives, and millions of people idolize them as more (or less) than the average person. But in actuality, they’re normal people, and cannot uphold the ideals of their fans or their haters. In “Therefore I Am” Billie Eilish mirrors the message of “Not My Responsibility,” saying she isn’t dominated by others’ opinions, no matter how negative and personal they become. 

Billie confronts the people who want to control her and makes it clear that she has no regard for other people’s opinions about her.”—Genius

Forgiveness and compassion above all else

Eilish is determined to live her life unapologetically, despite the negative opinions of others. In many ways, her confidence and resistance to negativity is an admirable quality that our kids can draw from. While Eilish may not take the kindest of approaches in dealing with cyberbullying and hate, she sets good standards for what is acceptable and what isn’t from others when it comes to criticism. As Christians, it’s important for us to draw off of our identity in God to stand against opposition by rising above their antagonism with compassion and forgiveness. 

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”—Ephesians 4:32

If someone is constantly putting us down only to make themselves feel better, it may be best to walk away from that situation. Helping our teens find the balance between rejecting toxic relationships while also acting in love is a difficult thing to do. But it’s one of the best ways to stay healthy emotionally, while also showing grace. 

The latest TikTok bop

 

All philosophy, controversy, and body-shaming clapback aside, “Therefore I Am” is a bop that TikTok can’t get enough of. Leave it to Gen Z to find a song they love and turn it into background noise for every TikTok imaginable. Has your teen made a video to the tune of her new track? Ask them about it!

Discussion questions

  1. Do you like Billie Eilish’s new song? Why or why not?
  2. Did you watch Billie Eilish’s “Therefore I Am” music video? What did you think of it? 
  3. What do you think of the philosophy of “I think therefore I am”? (P.S. If your teen hasn’t given any thought to this, open up by asking if they know what the phrase means, and start a conversation on that!)
  4. Do you think it’s important to have certainty in your beliefs? Why or why not? 
  5. Is there any room for doubt in your beliefs? (On faith, values, political ideas, anything!)
  6. Is Billie Eilish someone you respect or admire? Why or why not?
  7. What do you think is the best way to deal with critics? 

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