Music

Lana Del Rey and the Futility of Cancel Culture

Singer Lana Del Rey has recently come under fire for comments she made in an Instagram-posted essay. After she claimed that there’s a double standard in the music industry that disproportionately affects her, people raced to social media to call for everyone to boycott her music. Such reactions are nothing new, and many of us are questioning when the vapidity of “cancel culture” will be universally realised and cancelled itself.

For some, such lines are considered to paint her as “anti-feminist”

Lana Del Rey is used to criticism at this point. Her 2014 album Ultraviolence garnered immense revulsion for its contentious lyrical content. In the titular track, Del Rey sings of a Jim Morrison-like character, “He hit me and it felt like a kiss”. In ‘Sad Girl’, she sings, “Being a mistress on the side; it might not appeal to fools like you”. For some, such lines are considered to paint her as “anti-feminist”, as they allude to the idea their female subject is being submissive to male control and celebrating promiscuity.

These critiques seem to have motivated the essay penned and posted by Del Rey. Before revealing her new album will be released this September, the singer said, “Now that Doja Cat, Ariana, Camila, Cardi B… have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes… 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 that I’m glamorising abuse?”7

Fans insist Del Rey is challenging the critics and not the noted artists, but many are saying Del Rey’s perspective is also racially motivated.

The post may have reached over 1,000,000 likes, but on apps like Twitter, people are insinuating its message is low and constitutes a personal attack on the women listed. Fans insist Del Rey is challenging the critics and not the noted artists, but many are saying Del Rey’s perspective is also racially motivated. One user wrote, “@LanaDelRey what did you gain from trying to tear down successful black women?”, and another said, “I just know Lana Del Rey hates black women” in a tweet that has gained over 500 likes.

Due to the immense criticism Del Rey has received, it should come as no surprise to hear that people are calling for her to be culturally boycotted. An aggrieved Twitter user wrote, “Lana Del Rey asking for another serving of cancelled” alongside a screenshot of the singer’s controversial post.

The act of trying to perennially blacklist a celebrity for their seemingly controversial behaviour is not only infantile but nonsensical.

Despite its widespread popularity among social media, many have criticised “cancel culture” in the past. They’ve not been short-sighted in doing so, either. The act of trying to perennially blacklist a celebrity for their seemingly controversial behaviour is not only infantile but nonsensical. It seems as though a large portion of people, particularly from younger generations, seems to think they’re morally perfect and have never said or done things in their life that they shouldn’t have. It’s the internalisation of this kind of thinking that is going to burn bridges before they’ve even been constructed, and generate a kind of pompousness and entitlement which reason will never penetrate.

we need to pick our battles wisely and consider the fallibility of the human condition.

This isn’t to say that derogatory language and harmful behaviour should be socially greenlit. It just means we need to pick our battles wisely and consider the fallibility of the human condition. Sometimes we word things carelessly or develop an opinion on something without being aware of a counter-narrative’s validity.

we’ve been conditioned into firing off before we collect all the time and information necessary to pass judgement.

Let’s face it, most of us are symptomatic of society’s eagerness to form an opinion prematurely. With social media offering instantaneous information, we seem to think we need to react instantaneously, too. We don’t have to wait until the ten o’clock news anymore to learn about a recent terrorist attack or plane crash. People have mobile phones now to document the action from its heart; a tweet takes around thirty seconds to craft and put out into the world. Therefore, we’ve been conditioned into firing off before we collect all the time and information necessary to pass judgement. This is why I have such an issue with people instantly accusing Lana Del Rey of racism.

always assuming the worst in a person’s comments is often a misinformed endeavour.

The star gained similar backlash after singing, “Shaking my ass is the only thing that’s got this black narcissist off my back” in her 2019 single ‘hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it’. Given her previous censure for Kanye West after he vocalised support for President Trump, some said the “black narcissist” she was singing of was West, and that Del Rey was using racially antagonistic language. This was despite the fact Del Rey was singing about the leech-like proclivities of a depressive mindset in this lyric, and how “shaking her ass” released endorphins and removed it from her psyche. It just goes to show how always assuming the worst in a person’s comments is often a misinformed endeavour.

is it really sensible to insist she should be blacklisted, or that she should be a morally perfect role model to the world?

I’ll accept the contention that Del Rey could have articulated her concerns with more care in her essay. In all fairness, it seems pretty weird for her to go on a rant about supposed disproportionate misjudgement and then mention the release date of her upcoming album. But is it really sensible to insist she should be blacklisted, or that she should be a morally perfect role model to the world?

Humans aren’t monolithic beings. Political tribalism might exist, but that doesn’t mean some of us don’t welcome the imposition of counter-narratives to improve our perspectives and grow alongside them.

In her Vogue column, Paris Lees confessed to having taken a break from socio-political news and commentary. In the midst of a respite from newspapers and television debates, Lees said she was “blissfully ignorant” and got to focus more on herself by enacting it.

It seems pointless trying to argue with people who seem to think they’re morally infallible while everyone is intrinsically flawed.

Replicating Lees is tempting. It seems pointless trying to argue with people who seem to think they’re morally infallible while everyone is intrinsically flawed. I’m not sure when this emphasis on blacklisting will wane. Regardless, like many people, I’d much rather live in a culture where mistakes are opportunities to learn, not routes to social damnation.

Ryan James Keane

Featured image courtesy of Jaguar MENA via Flickr. Image use licence here. No Changes were made to the image. 

Article image courtesy of  @lanadelrey  via Instagram. 

Follow @ImpactMagazine on  Twitter and Instagram, or like the Impact Entertainment Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.

Categories
Music

Leave a Reply