Her mix of dread and gratitude at receiving four awards in a row was the perfect reaction to a ridiculous sequence of events.
Billie Eilish has taken home five Grammy awards this year, becoming the second artist in all of history to garner wins in all of the show's "Big Four" categories. (The first was Christopher Cross in 1981).
The 18-year-old wasn't happy about it. "Why?! Wow. So many other songs deserve this," she said after "Bad Guy" won song of the year. "I'm sorry. Thank you so much. This is my first Grammys. I never thought this would happen in my whole life."
Billie Eilish won Album of the Year, said she thought Ariana Grande deserved the award, and THIS was Ari's response… https://t.co/pr1DfuCKku— E! News (@E! News)1580101399.0
That was her second win. By the fourth one, she was naming the person she thought should have won (namely, Ariana Grande). By the last one, she could be seen quietly mouthing "please don't be me" to the camera.
Eilish is very talented, but the fact that she won five times over so many other incredible artists (such as Lana Del Rey, Lizzo, and Ariana Grande) simply solidifies what many already thought: the Grammy awards picks are not accurate representations of taste or talent, not that those things can really be objectively ranked in the first place. Regardless, all of Eilish's wins made for a strange, almost surreal end to the show. And in truth, "Bad Guy" was catchy but not really that world-altering or mind-blowing, and it was far less culturally impactful than—say—"Old Town Road" or "Truth Hurts."
On the other hand, the album that won Eilish al this—When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?—is extremely dark and heavily focuses on drug use and suicidal ideation, so maybe the Grammys are finally catching up to the fact that all of Gen-Z is very depressed because of the sh*tty world Boomers left—and maybe they realize that the youth are the world's best hope for the future—but that seems unlikely. Maybe it's still a victory for the culture that an album beginning with a track about Invisalign could win AOTY.
When has ranking and picking music ever been accurate or universally in tune, though? Eilish's unnecessary five-time win won't take away from the fact that so many artists made incredible work this year, or from the fact that Lana Del Rey went all the way to the mall to pick out a dress for the ceremony, only to go home empty-handed. (Also, Billie would be nothing without Lana, as she's stated previously).
.@LanaDelRey reveals to @etnow she bought her #GRAMMYs dress at the mall. https://t.co/6yI92cquGx— Pop Crave (@Pop Crave)1580102205.0
This year's Grammys ceremony was full of highlights, along with a few expected stumbles. They criminally underused BTS during a 30-second feature in an impressive performance of Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road," but also gave us these photos of Namjoon:
Namjoon’s jawline can punch me in the face https://t.co/ICemSHMVun— DyNatmite⁷🌈 (@DyNatmite⁷🌈)1580100072.0
There were also incredible performances from H.E.R., Tyler, the Creator, Rosalia, Demi Lovato, and Alicia Keys, and a moving tribute to Nipsey Hussle, as well as many tributes to Kobe Bryant, who passed away this afternoon along with his daughter.
It had awkward moments (Sharon Osbourne introducing rap song of the year and mispronouncing DJ Khaled's name was cringe-worthy, to say the least) and its cute moments (Tyler, the Creator's mom hugging him was heart-warming fuel sufficient for a couple weeks). It felt incoherent, but almost in a good, heart-warming way—at least until Eilish swept the categories in an almost comically repetitive sequence of events.
At least she and her brother Finneas were humble about it. Eilish is super-talented, as are the rest of the people on that stage, but winning a Grammy takes an alchemy of talent, drive, money, connections, and pure luck.
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Plus celebrities react to Nigerian protests.
Young people across Nigeria have been pouring into the streets for the last two weeks to protest police brutality, specifically the controversial special police force known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Tension came to a head on Tuesday when armed forces fired on protestors in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, who were out past the state-mandated curfew. According to AP News, "Police also fired tear gas at one point, and smoke could be seen billowing from several areas in the city's center. Two private TV stations were forced off the air at least temporarily as their offices were burned."
Not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
October 21, 2020 marks the third annual International Pronouns Day.
Created by an independent board and first observed in 2018, it's one of those small commemorative holidays that trends on Twitter in hopes of drawing attention to a pressing social issue, like International Women's Day (March 8th) or the ever so serious National Taco Day (October 4).
But Pronouns Day in particular "seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace." The organization's website further describes, "Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people's multiple, intersecting identities."
But in the words of nonbinary activist and Trevor Project's Head of Advocacy and Government Afairs, Sam Brenton, "Pronouns are hard." Never before have pronouns been scrutinized as closely as they are in 2019 for their power to (in)validate or accurately describe something as fluid as gender identity. In fact, it was only this year that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary expanded the definition of "they" "to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary" (thus codifying a long history in English language of using "they" to refer to a singular non-gendered entity).
‘Everyone has the responsibility to be respectful.’ — The @TrevorProject’s Sam Brinton is explaining why pronouns a… https://t.co/pMMO8KRvBR— NowThis (@NowThis)1571253180.0
But throwing an additional wrench in the works is the fact that not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
Take me, for instance: Despite having female biology, I couldn't pass a lie detector test saying I'm a "woman." But my pragmatic, Puritan family is still endearingly confused by the idea of "liberal arts," let alone the notion of gender fluidity. And I'd rather share a communal language with them than do the emotional and mental labor of re-orienting their worldview for them. Plus, I have the privilege of passing as female without feeling too, too, terribly dysphoric (which non-binary people can definitely suffer from, despite not identifying as trans).
But enough about me, look at Queer Eye's beloved Jonathan Van Ness. While he's been outspoken about being genderqueer, gay, and HIV positive, he prefers he/him pronouns. "The older I get, the more I think that I'm nonbinary," Van Ness said. "I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman." As he told Out magazine, he doesn't identify as a man, but he does prefer "he/him/his" pronouns. In his view, those pronouns don't detract from or contradict his non-binary identity, because gender is not about simple binaries between masculine and feminine identifiers. "Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it," he said. "I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It's this social construct that I don't really feel like I fit into the way I used to."
On the other hand, last month non-binary singer Sam Smith announced that their preferred pronouns are "they/them." Smith posted to Instagram, "I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out." People like Smith and Trevor Project's Sam Brenton simply feel more validated, seen, heard, and true to themselves with gender-neutral pronouns. Smith wrote, "I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*ck it!"
Most importantly, as pretty much every non-binary person and activist is aware, changing cultural norms is hard. While LGBTQ+ activism is inspired and passionate and dedicated to expanding human rights to all gender identities, we all know that changing society's entire understanding of gender and pronoun usage is about slowly opening minds. As Smith wrote, "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you." Happy Pronouns Day to you/him/her/they/(f)aer/zim.