Monday, 3 March 2014

Feminism and Lana

Why is lana such a bad girl?

Lana del Ray made a movie about a sexy, doll like anti-heroine. The mini movie on the one hand looks stunning and on a rainy English night it’s a slice of a naughty endless summer. Like Lana tells us

“I am fucking crazy but I am free.”

1 2 On the other hand our doll shows a frightening vulnerability and puts herself in real danger, she also smokes, drinks but still manages to look stunning. The most shocking thing about the movie is she has lots of sex with older “ugly” men, it’s not safe sex either. The video was only ever presented as a movie, or another Lana del Ray ultra-feminine, feverish daydream.  Online feminists went crazy at the eccentric singer’s fictional behaviour. She calls Lana’s behaviour “misguided” and fulfilling every bad female stereotype. Another tells us she is no longer in the popular feminist role model gang.  

Lana never said she was the next Naomi Wolf or Germaine Greer, she’s never admitted to being a feminist and is not telling people how to live. The video asks more questions than it answers, is this girl crazy or free? Why is she behaving like a crazy woman?  What is the attraction of ugly bikers?

3 Now Lana daring to be a sexy child girl may not the only thing that makes people feel she’s “gone too far”. Teens have always been “folk devils” while being “Mods and Rockers” trashing seaside towns and each other or the last big scary teen  tribe were ravers who took drugs and danced till dawn at huge, illegal outdoor parties. There were fears about safety and morality and a feeling they could cause the end of civilisation. A few people fall victim of bad behaviour most settle down, get married and bore their kids with tales of being a better rebel than them.  All Lana does is make a movie and other feminists are shocked, is this about feminism or something else?

5 Lana is living outside the modern American dream, that dream involves money, family, self-indulgence or spending a fortune on your beautiful children would or anti-heroine be any happier is she got a career and shopping habit or lived a Betty Friedan nightmare looking after ungrateful toddlers way before she was ready to spend her days cleaning and babbling to babies. If she lived out either dream she would be living somebody else’s dream, the capitalist one.  We might be shocked at the portrayal of self-destruction but it’s her life to destroy and feminists should believe women have the right to get out of the doll’s house and live how we like. Of course many feminists believe a career is our salvation but maybe this character doesn't fancy it, not when there’s a bike to get on and a party to go to. Lana ticks every outlaw box she can, her love looks like it comes for free, just like the 60s Hippie commune, she dances till dawn like the ravers and she’s a deviant woman like the ladettes.

7 A career would really still probably involve being underpaid by a man and thanks to capitalism she wouldn’t be paid very well for her time. Germaine Greer points out the dream of women in the workplace and feminism in general is a very conservative one, another half of the population can work till they drop. Look at Britain’s greatest career girl, Margret Thatcher, she made it by behaving like a man.

Our anti-heroine is also depressed, then happy, then depressed. Lana del Ray is daring to be weak. Lana dares to be foolish, she does dangerous things and takes risks and these bloggers don't like it.  She falls in love and messes up, and is weak. Sounds like a human being making their life up as they go along. Now feminists are not allowed to get depressed, feel trapped or be naughty. Is that freedom, do we have to live our lives perfectly? Lana is not telling anyone how to live, she lives many lives through her videos, she rarely tells the media anything about herself and she has never written a feminist book she simply expresses herself in a postmodern mash up of femininity. We watch another Lana drama because she uses intelligence and beauty in all her but this is not life.

So what is going on? Marxist theory tells us the money makers want us all to work hard and have the same morals, we need to be good and virtuous little money makers, this may not serve us but it will serve the machine. Are feminists also falling for this myth of the “good person” and the “good role model”? Maybe we aren't slut shaming her but we're too frightened to take the chance on a risky life too far outside the dream society thinks up for us, maybe it’s time feminist asked themselves are they living out other people’s dreams and maybe they should live their own.