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.




  1. I think the feminism criticism of Lana is that she a.) infantilizes women, constantly writing lyrics comparing them to Lolita, babies, etc, b.) writes about being attracted to bad, violent men, and c.) has some sexist lyrics. Though I love Lana's music and enjo her videos, some criticism is not misguided and shouldn't be dismissed so rashly.

  2. I suppose I wrote this to start debate because I think Lana is just telling stories from her point of view. I think feminism can be too prescriptive, we must never make mistakes, behave a bit like men, never put a foot wrong, this is not possible for most women. Lana also has a terrible sadness in her characters, she is also a warning and the start of conversations. Also she only plays characters, women are slut shamed for acting, that's ridiculous.

  3. I agree; I don't find her as problematic as other artists, and her videos are definitely gorgeous, but I do find her lyrical themes tired. I can only listen to a song about being attracted to a bad boy who's going to do her no good so many times. Though I must say, I find the Lolita motifs in her songs pretty damn problematic. You never hear men being compared to underage "temptresses." It's a little disconcerting. What's your opinion on that?

  4. She does make me cringe sometimes too! If Lana had less intelligence she would be a disaster area and these videos are not for children. The blog that made me angry was slut shamming over a movie and hinted her art was more dangerous because she admits to having a mental illness. Women should not be shut up just because their message is difficult.

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  6. Personally I find the issue is with the fact that most of her fan base are children; girls 16 and under according to reports on her concerts and as you said it really isn't for children. To imply to children in her videos and lyrics that aggressive relationships are worth dying for (he hit me and it felt like a kiss) is a more than disturbing. Children are impressionable and they do tend to follow the trends. Lana for me is like a trend stetting femme fatale and remember a femme fatale is a stereotypical fictional character but her constant manipulation of the truth in interviews is confusing for young people. One minute she admits the lyrics are based on people she has met and exaggerated and the next she insists they are about her personal stories. She is playing a dangerous game with young people. I don't think she is intelligent, I think she is a disaster who has created such a fabricated world she doesn't even know who she is.

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  8. I'm a parent and if your kids are that impressionable you are not doing your job very well, every parent knows the world is full of confusing images and stories parents need to talk with their kids and tell them what is real and what is not, this is good for relationships and helps kids work this stuff out for themselves. Men have been behaving badly for an awful long time, now it's women's turn, when women get out of line it's somehow worse, this of course makes female rebellion all the more fun and we have more power in some ways, but they are expected to be babysitters.If you want kids to grow up in a world that's not confusing why tell them about the tooth fairy or Father Christmas?

    The fact you expect the media to babysit children says you want a very narrow set of images, ideas and concepts to be called entertainment, what a dull world you want to live in, should pop stars stay happy little children? Should they live up ivory towers so parents don't need to have a few difficult conversations?

    Lana is an artist, a tale, the real Lana has been sober for years and at a guess she works really hard at what she does, just because she portrays a disaster doesn't mean she is one, people are getting fantasy and reality mixed up, it's adults choice to tell the difference then tell your kids the difference. Art is full of the mentally ill, addicted and strange, Lana seems together compared to the fabulous Janis Joplin or bad girl Amy Winehouse, watch a live show and she seems sober and healthy. Lots of people live in a fabricated worlds but they can't hold their lives together long enough to turn it into art, that's terrible as many people could turn their "illness" into art, be admired and make a living.

    There are real people are in your community, why aren't we pointing out real world heroines like your GP or athletes or great mums or the mate who runs her own business, these are also role models and we need to be championing women in the real world, you can't let pop stars bring up your kids but you can be a real world role model yourself, if that is not more vivid and powerful to little girls we need to make reality powerful than fantasies.

    Please read this She sound pretty smart to me.