Everyone and their mothers have an opinion, it seems, on Lana Del Rey. We here at BUST have blogged about her twice in the last month alone. (That’s actually a small number if you consider how many times her name has come up in conversation around the office.) The controversy over her is passionate, fascinating—and completely unnecessary. When I hear people getting up in arms about her sex appeal, her body modifications (lip injections, anyone?), or the quality of her music, I can’t help but wonder: why in the world are we stressing about this more than any other artist? These debates have been coming up since the dawn of time. Half the female artists who are stars today have been criticized for being “too sexy” or “not sexy enough,” for having work done, for making music that is “too generic” or (or too deliberately un-generic). I read these reactions, and I think, didn’t we go through all this with Ke$ha? And Britney?
Lana del Rey has a style, a look. You don’t have to like it; that’s why it’s her look, not yours. She makes a certain type of music; you don’t have to like that either (although I gotta say, “Video Games” is in my top 5 songs of the moment). She’ll keep on keepin’ on regardless of haters.
I had sort of been thinking these things already, but I didn’t really know how to put it into words—until singer-songwriter Liz Phair (whose debut album Exile in Guyville was Kind Of a Big Deal in the 1990s) said it for me in this article on the Wall Street Journal site. Liz stands up for Lana, saying that it doesn’t matter what she is, as long as she’s allowed to express it. It doesn’t even make any difference whether she’s any good at it—which is, of course, a matter of opinion. She’s a phenomenon, and it’s her music, and she can do what she likes.
Liz connects this to a larger feminist issue. She sees the controversy as a comment on how women’s voices have been largely silent in our society, and Lana’s right to self-express feeds into every woman’s right to do so. She’s not necessarily wrong, but I think the issue can be even less global than that. Her argument—and mine—both boil down to one simple conclusion:
[Ed. note-- Kristen Wiig appeared as Lana Del Rey on SNL's Weekend Update on Saturday and made some of the same points that Laurie made in an earlier blog about LDR. Wiig's impersonation is at once funny and just the right amount of snarky, but she ends the segment with a pretty serious thought: "In this age of dangerous school bullying, you have sent an important message: If you think someone is weird, you should criticize them as much as possible." Check out the clip below and let us know what you think:]