A YouTuber with more than 11 million subscribers is facing backlash after sharing a “fake Billie Eilish” video, just weeks after the singer spoke out against similar pranks.
Brent Rivera, a 22-year-old actor and social media influencer, shared a clip titled “Surprising My Friends With “Billie Eilish”!? (They didn’t fall for it)” to his YouTube channel on Feb. 29. In it, he sneaks up on several of his friends and reveals a woman dressed as the “Bad Guy” singer.
But Rivera’s “Billie Eilish” is actually Nadine Yani, a 20-year-old influencer and TikTok star.
The video, which has already racked up more than 2 million views, arrived shortly after Billie Eilish criticized other YouTubers for similar pranks. The 18-year-old pop star called the viral trend of impersonating her “not safe” and “mean to people who don’t know any better,” according to Insider.
“Please stop doing this s***,” Eilish said of the trend in January.
Despite that warning, Rivera claimed in the comments of his video that he was not impersonating Eilish in the same way.
“Billie asked fans not to impersonate her in public, due to safety reasons and bad publicity,” he wrote. “I respected those wishes and did not do anything in public with this prank. I surprised my closest friends in my house with someone dressed like her.”
Rivera’s video mostly shows his friends reacting to Yani — who is dressed in Eilish’s iconic neon green aesthetic — but it also includes moments in public. For example, one scene involves the group going to a fast-food drive-thru, during which Rivera asks an employee if she wants to take a photo with “Billie.”
The clip seemed to upset some YouTuber viewers who accused Rivera of disrespecting the real Eilish, and trying to increase his notoriety by potentially upsetting her.
“Isn’t this the exact thing billie does not want people to do?….” one YouTube commenter wrote.
“Alright, so I guess you’re just going to disrespect Billie after she ranted about how she does not want people to do this…?” another added.
“This guy wants to get even more famous by getting called out by Billie on [social media] for ‘making her look bad,'” yet another wrote, referring to Eilish’s January comments.
Other commenters were far less critical, noting that, regardless of the intention, Yani hardly looks like Eilish.
“Tbh that ‘Billie Eilish’ doesn’t even look like Billie,” one commenter wrote.
“Why don’t we choose a girl who looks nothing like Billie and see if people fall for it,” another joked.
Eilish, who recently released her theme song for the upcoming James Bond film, “No Time To Die,” has been outspoken about her struggles with fame, some of which seemed to motivate her reasoning that impersonating her was unsafe. The 18-year-old has been notably ambushed by fans in public, and booed after refusing to sign autographs.
“The fact that people can switch up like that, damn,” Eilish said on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in reference to negative reactions from autograph seekers. “They wait outside for you and then immediately they don’t get what they want and they boo you, and f****** curse at you.”
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