At the 47th American Music Awards on Sunday, November 24th, seventeen-year-old artist Billie Eilish was one of the most highly anticipated guests. Nominated for six awards and winning titles for best new artist and favorite alternative rock artist, Eilish performed her song “All The Good Girls Go To Hell”, and did it while sporting an unequivocal environmental message.
Eilish is known for wearing baggy attire on stage, and at the AMAs, she decided to don an oversized black t-shirt reading “No Music On A Dead Planet” in sparkling red letters.
Seeing one of the world’s biggest stars pointing out the truth of that dire scenario, bringing to mind a planet with no-life whatsoever, let alone such a vibrant life as exemplified by her music, is a haunting, powerful image and message.
Her being roughly the same age as Greta Thunberg further hits home, as they could both be seeing life deteriorating decade by decade for the rest of their lives, while many in positions of power, such as septuagenarians like Trump and other politicians that currently actively block positive environmental changes, will be long since gone. Good for them, bad for the rest of us.
The quote is the slogan for Music Declares Emergency, a group made up of artists and professionals who strive for change, and to represent the music industry’s response to the climate crisis. The organization not only stands for lowering musicians’ carbon footprint through more sustainable forms of touring and performing, but it also aims to promote wider systemic change using artists’ cultural influence and communication powers.
Billie Eilish has millions of fans around the world. By taking a stand against climate destruction and supporting Music Declares Emergency, other artists and members of her fan base are certain to follow in her footsteps. Additional artists and bands that have already expressed solidarity with the group include Foals, Savages, Milky Chance, The 1975, and Radiohead amongst others.
Music Declares Emergency is an independent, democratic organization run by volunteers. Anyone can participate and donate, but it cites the Extinction Rebellion, Culture Declares Emergency, and other music-affiliated charities as inspiration.
The group’s primary goal is to make climate change a political prioritization. While Music Declares Emergency can make as much alterations within the music industry as possible, it’s leaders know that combating the climate crisis most effectively requires grass roots political action. Thus, before one deems Billie Eilish or any other Music Declares Emergency-affiliate hypocritical, one must remember that they are attacking the looming crisis in the most important way possible.
In more ways than one, Music Declares Emergency’s mission is reminiscent of the Extinction Rebellion’s letters signed by a number of Hollywood actors and personalities last month. In these letters, stars such as Benedict Cumberbatch, directors such as Alfonso Cuaron, and musicians such as Adam Clayton acknowledged their hypocrisy for being part of a high carbon lifestyle, but at the same time, they articulated their unhindered support for the Extinction Rebellion.
In total, celebrity activism is understandably not a perfect, tangible, or foolproof solution. However, stars using their spotlights to inform and encourage ecological reformation can be very powerful, and it is the kind of radical wide-ranging action the planet needs in such a critical period.
Music, like fame, is a fickle thing; one cannot touch or hold it, but one can certainly feel it, and it can definitely influence the way one thinks. Thus, it is a perfect medium to inspire through during trying times. Music Declares Emergency aims to evolve our world for the better. Having an ally in Billie Eilish—one of the hottest up-and-coming stars of 2019—is bound to help its cause.
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