Thursday, January 19, 2012

What January 19th Means To Me: Lana Del Rey

Before this week, Lana Del Rey, to me, simply existed as the obscure singer of a song I enjoyed (Video Games), but frequently skipped on my iPod.  But now, she's mizz talk-about on the interwebz, all though not for the good.  Last Saturday, her SNL appearance was so roundly criticized that it spawned a whole wave of internet hate, but not just because of her admittedly awkward performance (she just seemed nervous), but also because of her past. 

Apparently, before Lana became a sultry, sexy indie star, she was "Lizzie Grant," a failed, mainstream pop wanna-be.  Just type in Lana or Lizzie's name into Google and you will be bombarded with hate posts claiming her to be a fraud, and some bullshit about being true to if it was some evil plan to dupe the public into forgetting all about her past attempts at success.  They laugh, they point, and they criticize as if their "discovery" will sink her back into obscurity.  To which I only have one thing to say:

Seriously.  Fuck you.  Anyone living on this Earth, especially anyone with their finger on the pulse of the American zeitgeist is image driven, and uses their selected image to create a persona that they hope will be interpreted as "interesting" by both their immediate community and general public.  And this is unavoidable.  No one lives in a vacuum and the vast majority of us are continuously carving out our little space in society in an effort to be perceived as unique.  All our style choices (whether a haircut, clothing selection, car choice, etc) are all for public consumption, whether directly or indirectly.  You can say to me, "hey Brett, no one ever sees my nipple rings, that's just for ME!"  To which I say, "that's bullshit."  That nipple ring still represents a form of rebellion to the norm.  And even if this rebellion is "personal" and "only seen by a few," it still gives you an inner sense of strength and uniqueness that you will use, either consciously or subconsciously, when projecting yourself to those around you.  Even if you live by the motto "I don't care what people think about me," you actually do, because you've chosen this lifestyle as a way of standing out, even if as an outcast, because you not only feel comfortable in that space, but also think it will help define you within your immediate community.  We all need this because if we don't have a strong sense of self, what are we?


On a personal level, I can completely relate to Lana, even if our plights are different.  After a incredibly depressing time in my life, I, either consciously or subconsciously (perhaps a little of both), attempted to change my image to become something different in the public eye, in order to satisfy my own need to overcome personal insecurity.  In a very short time period, I traded my rounder body for a leaner, shaped one, covered it in ink, and buzzed off my hair.  While, at the time, all these decisions seemed like simple lifestyle choices that were incredibly "personal," I realized there was much more than meets the eye. After years of feeling "weak" and "lost," I wanted to, at least, portray an image that was "tougher" and "stronger" and, therefore, used social conventions in an effort for others to see me that way because I felt, either justly or unjustly, exposed.  Because so much of our self image is derived from other's opinions, I subconsciously figured that if I presented myself with these obvious signals of "toughness," I could overcome the weak insecurities, or at least trick people into thinking I was something I was not.  Simply put, if my outer appearance immediately signaled "hard" to the people around me, they wouldn't judge me with the preconceived notion that I was actually something else.  And using that as fuel, whether accurate or not, I, therefore, felt different than I once had.  Perhaps this is stupid, but it's the way it is.   

And Lana Del Rey really is just doing the same thing, even if it was a more conscious decision.  Her ex-bubble gum persona, Lizzie Grant, didn't work in launching her music career, so she re-invented herself into a more interesting artist with a completely different style that she felt would be more accepted as "unique" or "interesting" by today's public.  I don't know if she completely changed as a person during this transformation, but she clearly understands we live in an image driven world, that she has chosen to immerse herself in a completely image-driven industry, and that she needed to embody an image that would thrust her into any sort of spotlight.  This doesn't make her a phony any more than it makes you one for buying a new dress or new pair of glasses that you think will make you more appealing or interesting to the opposite sex.  After all, as I've said one million times before in this space, we live in an incredibly interwoven society where all our actions affect the ones around us, and all our decisions are actually made collectively, even if we seem to have complete autonomy.  To ignore this fact is ignorance at its height.  And if this is shallow, well, sorry, we're all guilty of it. 

So, don't blame Lana Del Rey for reinventing her image in an effort to fit in or create some unique space in society for herself.  We all want to stand out, be accepted, or even be shunned for the sake of personal happiness or comfort. We all do this every single day.  And, really, in the case of Lana, your criticism comes from envy because she managed to use this societal feature for her own personal gain. 

Still need to blame someone for all of the above?  Just take a look around, start pointing fingers, and blame everyone until you've counted into the billions. 


  1. obsessed....seriously my favorite ever.

  2. Hmmmm...I don't know, Brett. I think it's annoying.

    After reading about this, it seems that because hipster vintage-inspired singer/song writers are all the rage now, she thought she'd jump on board.

    There's nothing wrong with reinventing, heck, Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Lady Gaga do it all the time! But she went so far to change her name and entire face that I can't help but believe that she obviously knew what she was doing.

    I think she's annoying now.

  3. Oh she absolutely knew what she was doing, or her handlers, I'm just saying she didn't create the game, she's just playing it. We all do it, on some level, even if our ultimate goal isn't to sell records, it's still acceptance in some strange form.

    As far as hipsters go, who Lana (or whoever) is manipulating, there as guilty as she is.

    After reading this again, I think it comes off more as a "poor lana, poor her" kind of argument, when I didn't really intend it to be. It's more a "we all do this, fuck all of us" kind of thing.

    1. They're trying to package her as a hotter Feist and I guess it's sort of working.

      Ugh, this story pisses me off so much! What, she couldn't get in with the Britney crowd so she thought she'd dye her hair red, get fake luscious lips and wear retro flowers and what? Now she's all soulful and shit. Ugh...!

  4. Are you more pissed at the attempt or pissed that it worked?