The Question of Authenticity and Lana Del Rey
By Brigette Adair Herron
Lana Del Rey (formerly Lizzy Grant) has become a searchable name following this year’s release of her 7” featuring the songs ‘Video Games’ and ‘Blue Jeans’.
I find the story of Lana Del Rey fascinating, but probably not for any of the reasons you would expect. It’s a story about an artist who may be receiving too much attention, too soon. Everyone is talking about how everyone is talking about Lana Del Rey, which makes one expect that she will disappear as quickly as she was conjured up. Of course, not before receiving a healthy dose of backlash. Children can be so cruel, you know.
Questions about authenticity appear whenever she is mentioned. Questions like, “Is she really an independent artist?” “Can she really sing?” “Does she really write her own songs?” “Does she really edit her own videos?” “Is she a fabrication of Interscope Records?” Even, “Are her lips real?”
ARE HER LIPS REAL?
I can’t think of a more uninteresting topic of conversation. Especially when there is something much more interesting, and perhaps more pressing, to talk about. You see, while most people are using their mental facilities to ponder what percent of Lana Del Rey’s lips are filled with botulinum toxin, and wrestling over whether or not it is OK to like her now that she has signed to a major label, they completely overlook what is actually interesting about LDR. Her song ‘Video Games’ is a dark song — a creepy as fuck song — about being controlled, and about the nihilism of the young and bored in modern-day America where everyone has their own celebrity surrogate — someone they can watch to feel better about themselves — a person they hold in their minds at night as they whisper, “At least, I’m not as bad as her” while rocking back and forth trying to fall asleep. If you don’t believe me watch this video. And yes, Lana Del Rey edited this herself.
It’s as beautiful a collage about American celebrity culture as you can get. And at the same time it conjures images of 100,000 middle class homes where the female of the species rests quietly, maybe just drunk, in a haze of marijuana smoke watching quietly as one or more males play video games. The snapshots of this microcosm and macrocosm reveal that the same issues of power and control form the basis of each, and have the same depressing results. Unfulfilled desires, expectations to behave and misbehave in the appropriate contexts, and desperation for acceptance and love. This is real life for many young women around the world. And the song deserves to be heard by thousands of young women who can relate to the nihilism, the self-hatred and the struggle against darkness represented in this song. Let us hope it serves as a warning.
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