Lana Del Rey’s arguably contentious message found her in a sea of accusations and criticism on Twitter and Instagram.
On 21 May 2020, netizens were taken by surprise and subsequently dived headlong into multiple debates and speculations when singer Lana Del Rey posted a rather controversial message on her Instagram and Twitter accounts, where she name-dropped female singers and called out the criticism her own music receives.
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“Question for the culture: Now that Doja Cat, Ariana [Grande], Camila [Cabello], Cardi B, Kehlani, Nicki Minaj, and Beyoncé have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, fucking, cheating, etc – can I please go back to singing about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money – or whatever I want – without being crucified or saying I’m glamorizing abuse??????”, read her message a week after Doja Cat, Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion landed the top two positions on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, making history as the first black female solo-artists to do so. All other artists in Del Rey’s list- except Kehlani- have had number one hits in recent years.
However, the situation quickly escalated when people on Twitter pointed out that the singer had mentioned mostly women of color. Others questioned why it was even necessary for Del Rey to specify names to get her point about her own music across. Others defended the name-dropped artists for embracing their sexuality in their music- something women, especially women of color, are often heavily criticized for doing.
The focus of Del Rey’s message, however, was the criticism she has received for, allegedly, romanticizing abuse in her past works when in fact, the singer said, her material was drawn from her personal experiences. “I’m fed up with female writers and alt singers saying that I glamorize abuse when in reality I’m just a glamorous person singing about the realities of what we are all now seeing are very prevalent emotionally abusive relationships all around the world,” Del Rey continued in her message. The singer added that it is “pathetic” that her occasional lyrics which detail her “sometimes abusive or passive roles” in her relationships have made people say she has “set women back hundreds of years”. The lyrics in question may include her 2014 song Ultraviolence, containing the lyrics “I can hear sirens, sirens / He hit me and it felt like a kiss”, and, “I can hear violins, violins / Give me all of that ultraviolence.” An article by TIME had questioned whether the song glorifies domestic violence and another at Mic claimed that the song was “a huge step backwards for women everywhere”.
Watch Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence Music Video on YouTube
“I’m not not a feminist”, said Del Rey in her message and added that the movement should have a place for people with experiences like hers- “The kind of woman who says no but men hear yes – the kind of women who are slated mercilessly for being authentic, delicate selves, the kind of women who get their own stories and voices taken away from them by stronger women or by men who hate women.” Del Rey then went on to explain that she’d been “honest and optimistic” about her challenging relationships in the past which could also be the case with many other people. She wrote that she feels her work has helped her in paving the way for other women to be open about vulnerability and sadness in their music, even though for her first two records, she was “deemed hysterical as though it was literally 1920s”.
The singer ended her message with an announcement of her two upcoming poetry books whose proceeds will be directed to Native American foundations of her choice. Del Rey also announced that her new album will drop on September 5 which follows her 2019 LP, Norman Fucking Rockwell, and 2017’s Lust for Life.
Watch Lana Del Rey’s Norman F*cking Rockwell on YouTube
Several hours after her message made headlines, Lana Del Rey responded to the backlash surrounding her comments with a few updates on Instagram. Amongst her responses, one was a video compilation of herself pole dancing which was captioned “#f*ckoff”. Her Instagram stories also saw screenshots of her replies to comments calling her ‘racist’ for name dropping mostly female artists of color.
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On 26 May, days after Lana Del Rey posted her message; the singer shared a six-minute-long IGTV video explaining that her original post was intended to highlight “the need for fragility in the feminist movement”. She also called out the commentators who accused her of being racist- they “want to turn my advocacy for fragility into a race war—it’s really bad”, she said.
Featured Image Via MTV.com