My Problematic Music Tastes: a feminist confession
I have a secret. A pretty poorly kept one, but nonetheless one that makes my pull my headphones from my ears and act innocent. I like Lana Del Rey.
I know, I’m a terrible person. What sort of chauvinist daddy-issues monster would like her albums?
I can see your point. I am a hardcore radical snarling feminist. I give the Hastings Direct Number to creeps who try to pick me up. I know my way around Greer and Walters like my GCSE textbooks. I write weekly scathing articles about modern womanhood. I really shouldn’t like songs where victimhood, man worship and sexual abuse stick to every line.
But I do.
Because its so fucking true. We’ve all been hopelessly besotted with that bastard who treats you terribly. We’ve all sat under the streetlights at 5.30am wondering what the hell just happened. We’ve all fancied a massively inappropriate person. We all behaved badly at school and maybe dabbled in dubiously motivated older guys. We just did.
We are part of the patriarchy and it refreshing to have patriarchal feelings and experiences addressed. I shouldn’t love a man who hurts me, I shouldn’t stay with a brutal emotionless jerk. I shouldn’t accept a man’s blind authority over my sexuality. I don’t think Lana is telling us to. She’s just addressing her own sadnesses without answers. Sadnesses that unfortunately many women will relate to.
I get why she makes a lot of people uncomfortable. The whole Daddy/Lolita/domestic abuse vibe is dark. But sometimes she just taps into the frustration and loneliness of being a woman. Songs like Brooklyn Baby deals with being constantly shut down and discarded as a dumb pretty younger woman. Put Me In A Movie explores the power play between desperate young women and sleazy executives. Money Power Glory is a searing, angry demand for more from this world.
Granted, none of them offer solutions. It isn’t empowering to hear a woman celebrate her abusive wife beater boyfriend. But it is powerful and interesting to hear that woman’s monologue, her version of events, her delusions and sadnesses and hopes. Does she glamourise abuse and substance addiction? Completely. But that’s so revealing. To the characters in her underworld, the beautiful lie is easier to bear than the crushing reality of a thug gang lord, a troubled childhood and a father who never quite wanted you enough. Smothered in slick chloral hydrate, smooth champagne and prozac, the glittering artistic delirium masks the truth. And that’s amazing to think about to her music. How much of this is real, or what the character wants? The Great American Failure.
I hope I’ve explained myself sufficiently. But I’ll shove some power anthems into my playlist to show I understand your criticism.