“Duh,” says Billie Eilish.
She’s on a go-kart-type toy the first time she says it, flanked by a handful of guys riding tricycles. She’s the “bad guy,” she proclaims — duh — and then she starts in on a series of strange dances, from a backward “Exorcist”-style crawl to a squatting sidestep to an energetic roll against a purple-and-yellow-striped background.
It’s a visually memorable music video, released in conjunction with Eilish’s debut album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? The video is full of striking images: Eilish feeds pigeons, pours milk into a guy’s mouth, kicks her way through a wall, sits on a guy while he does push-ups. If nothing else, it looks like she had a ton of fun making it. Eilish giggles and jokes — at the beginning of the video, she hands a guy her Invisalign to hold — but it’s also hard not to believe her when she goes serious and dead-eyed, rubbing blood across her face or threatening the listener with the idea of her villainy. There are many real Eilishes, it seems, and all of them peek through in this video. She’s the bad guy, but she’s also so weird and fun.
Yet the video, apparently, might be too good to be real, or at least original. Its director, Dave Meyers, has been accused of blatantly plagiarizing a photoshoot done for Toiletpaper magazine by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari. The images in question are a little too weirdly specific to shrug off — the guy getting milk poured into his mouth is one of them, and another is an image of two people’s heads suspended in plastic goldfish bags.
Bizarre, colorful, spirited villainy is definitely a good look for Eilish. It’s too bad plagiarism isn’t.