this line of criticism against LDR reminds me a lot of people who complain about the show girls on HBO by saying that the characters aren’t likeable. that’s not really the point - the show is as much a satire of the types of people and cultural touchstones it’s depicting as it is a straightforward piece of storytelling about them. it invites you to be critical of those characters as often as it invites you to sympathize with them or think they’re cool. lana del rey isn’t just like nakedly appropriating instagram filters and ripped up jean shorts and sleeveless budweiser t-shirts in an effort to sell you something that’s unrelated to those things, her art is about those things, she has something to say about that stuff that goes beyond “this is cool and i want you to think i’m cool because i like it”.
like, she sees everybody wearing leather jackets and crop tops and ripped up daisy dukes, like themselves kind of appropriating these pieces of some kind of fake imaginary version of americana, and she’s like, okay, you guys like americana? here’s a video where the 50 year old sons of anarchy extra your boyfriend is trying to dress like bends me over a pinball machine and fucks me senseless. through an instagram filter.
i don’t think her intent is to skewer or lampoon the urban outfitters fixation on white trash aesthetics and americana, i think it’s more that she is expressing that her love and commitment to the idea that that stuff is beautiful is so deep that even going deeper and parsing it intellectually doesn’t diminish the appeal for her. i think it’s really missing a lot of the point to see her art as just appropriation, i think what she’s actually doing is just presenting a much richer and more honest/dangerous version of the larger thing that current alternative fashion trends represent a superficial appreciation of, as a means of trying to prove that if you allow those signifiers to have more depth they’re still beautiful, or at least as a means of forcing you to ask yourself what you really liked about that aesthetic to begin with
either way i mean to me it seems clear that there are a lot of layers and a lot of really smart ideas at work in her music and her art, and it kind of bums me out that so many people don’t see it that way. the complaints that she’s inauthentic or whatever kind of bother me because the early buzz around her before the true scope of the project became apparent was basically just “hot indie girl sings sexy song”, and when her subsequent career didn’t stay in that box, people started complaining. it reminds me a lot of that scene in forrest gump where jenny is in the strip club and she walks out onstage with an acoustic guitar, gets announced as “the luscious bobbi dylan”, and starts playing “blowin’ in the wind” while the audience throws things at her and demands that she do sexier things.