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Lana Del Rey Is More Interested In Space Than Feminism And That’s OK

on June 05, 2014, 11:05am

Photo by Clarissa Villondo

It’s become the litmus test for famous young women, and yesterday, Lana Del Rey became the latest to fail. Or succeed, if you’re one of the publications who splattered her answer into a quick news byte. A young female celebrity’s answer to the question “are you a feminist?”, whether it’s a yes or a no, draws buzz, clicks, and controversy. Say yes and she risks angering the humanist-not-feminist crowd or alienating those who try to keep their culture clean of politics. If she says no, she draws the ire of activists, who’ll dismiss her as a bad role model.

The question’s a lose-lose, and journalists keep forcing it on young women who are on the cusp of releasing a major artistic project. Twenty-two-year-old actress Shailene Woody, a new face in the forthcoming film The Fault in Our Stars, answered negatively when TIME asked last month if she identified as a feminist. Weeks before the release of her second album, Ultraviolence, Lana Del Rey faced the same question from The Fader’s Duncan Cooper. “For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept,” she replied.

I saw the quote ricochet across Twitter, prompting disappointed remarks from artists and journalists whose work I deeply respect. “I really just don’t get why a supremely famous woman would publicly denounce feminism,” tweeted Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee. I know what she means. Every time a major figure self-identifies as not-feminist, it saps a modicum of credibility from the movement. It’s so easy to preempt the needling: If Lana Del Rey doesn’t need feminism, why would you?

lana del rey - ultraviolence

Back in December, Beyoncé made it easy for us. She not only released an album as a publicly identified feminist, but she sampled Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk on feminism in “Flawless”, letting the speaker define the term for her. “Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” Hard to argue with that language, so why, Beyoncé seemed to ask, do so many pop figures shy away from the word?

Though I identify personally as feminist, I understand why many women struggle with the label. Feminism is not yet a cohesive force aimed at the equality of all women. Many factions deliberately exclude trans women and women of color, while even the safer pockets can feel hostile to newcomers who trip up on their politics. And I get why even Lana Del Rey, who has the status and the resources to be welcomed as a feminist pioneer, shrugs off invitations to speak positively about the movement.

Since rocketing to YouTube success on her single “Video Games”, Del Rey has more or less baffled everyone. Her doe-eyed gaze and the sickly-smooth quality of her voice simultaneously beckoned and repelled her listeners. Her almost instantaneous jump to performing as the featured artist on Saturday Night Live first inspired confusion, then disappointment and revulsion. Who was this woman, and why was she singing so limply? Why didn’t she seem to care about being on one of the most important stages on TV?

lanadelrey9 Lana Del Rey Is More Interested In Space Than Feminism And Thats OK

Photo by Ted Maider

I dismissed her then, too, because in my mind a good singer was an authentic singer, a singer who could cough up her soul every night for a crowd of strangers. If you sang something without meaning it, I wanted nothing to do with you. But “Video Games” grew on me. It stuck in my head because of its menace, its fake innocence, the poison under its sweetness. It was a pop ballad, but it was complicated. I started to feel things deeply inside of it. I had never considered that something could be both artificial and authentic at the same time.

If there’s a key to Del Rey’s affect, maybe that’s it. She’s blank, but she’s secretive; sunny, but dark. We know nothing about her, but we grab hold of the emotion she drips into her songs. We don’t even know if it’s hers. On a pop rubric that tends to judge women artists by how much of their suffering they share, Del Rey glitches off the charts. She delivers real emotion through a false vessel, or maybe it’s the other way around. Who knows?

That strangeness and confusion read more feminist to me than simply slapping on the label would. I’m far more concerned with feminism as an action than feminism as a buzzword. The rules that govern women in highly exposed positions are strict, but Del Rey slips between the bars with ease. She confounds the expectation that we need access to women’s inner lives in order to be moved by their art. In the face of resistance to her complexity, she’s achieved massive success. Lana Del Rey is an enigma to be reckoned with—one that doesn’t need to identify as a feminist to do feminist work.

Go back to her words for a minute: Lana Del Rey didn’t say she’s not a feminist. She didn’t quite denounce feminism. She said she’s not interested in talking about it. Her quote continues: “I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities.” Intergalactic possibilities? Have we considered that this is a woman who knows exactly what to say to reporters to keep them guessing, and guessing, and guessing?

45 comments

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Inlands
June 10, 2014 at 3:43 am

Secretive? Dark? LDR is such a transparent persona that it’s boring. Ironic, isn’t it? I give her credit for writing her own lyrics, as dull and repetitive as they may be. And that’s cool, I mean, to each his (her) own. But please, don’t try to coat her with mystery or justify her indifference, ingratitude and blatant ignorance towards a movement to which she owes a great deal. And trying to read feminism in a person so disengaged with the mere concept is just dumb.

Anonymous
June 18, 2014 at 5:38 pm

You use big words to make yourself seem intelligent. You’re being nothing but ignorant yourself.

Adam
June 18, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Her lyrics definitely aren’t dull and repetitive. Honestly, she’s a lyrical genious. It really sucks how misinformed you are and that you can’t appreciate music because it’s at a slower tempo. That doesn’t make it boring. Also, her not being a feminist literally means nothing to who she is as a person. Just because she doesn’t actively support something doesn’t mean she’s against it.

Quinn
July 8, 2014 at 1:40 am

*genius

Honey
June 5, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Your article is pretty lame, looks like that’s the general consensus from the comments. Are you employed by Rob Grant?

Dave
June 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Sings about dying young with all sorts of symbolism in her videos the viewer doesn’t even understand or care to investigate. What makes Lana any different than Taylor Momsen, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Katy Perry, etc? Just the marketing campaign. Notice they are all saying the same bs in their songs, the actual songwriters just tailor the message slightly to hit the fanbase of the promoter (singer). If Beyonce is a feminist, why does she allow Jay Z to say he’s Ike Turner and to “eat the cake” on Drunk in Love, actually performing the song at the grammys with her smiling as he sings those lines live? That is a direct reference to when Tina Turner was abused in public and threatened to be killed by her husband. Such an important moment in Tina’s life that ahe out it in her autobiography and it was in the movie based on it. I have female friends who say “I don’t care” when I point that out so they can continue to listen to her, but to label Beyonce a feminist in the traditional sense is silly. Maybe in the “I have a female body that I will exploit because the males will offer their money in response” or another way, I don’t know. Music is fake these days. All commercial radio at least. Kanye West sucks too. I’m out.

blipster
June 5, 2014 at 4:24 pm

I think Beyonce says she’s a feminist because she’s a rich, powerful, beautiful and successful female in a male dominated industry. Translation: she’s probably not a feminist, but she can say she’s whatever she wants and people will believe her.

quickeninghues
June 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm

I read this article with an open mind, hoping you would persuade me to see her comment in a different light. Now I’m a little shocked at how weak and unconvincing your argument is. What you consider a cryptic response to keep audiences guessing, I see as evasive and socially detrimental. If every famous woman (and man) publicly identified as a feminist then the media wouldn’t feel the need to lob the question. I wonder what the consequences will be for younger generations when public female figures keeps us “guessing, and guessing, and guessing” on this social issue. If public figures are hesitant to align themselves on the side of gender equality will it cause young kids to question the legitimacy of the movement? And if she thinks SpaceX is a more important feminism, then I have lost all respect for her.

quickeninghues
June 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm

more important than feminism

Dave
June 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Tunnel-vision much. Feminism is merely a buzzword these days to harken back to a time before now when it meant something to actually care about an issue. Notice the amount of queens we have these days but no kings. Lana certainly has taken up a throne in a music video.

Meoh
June 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Piss off Dave, you know it would be nice for a bloke to support feminism as a man who supports women can make a stranger statement about it than a woman can, you know a man who doesn’t feel threatened that a woman could be his equal. Perhaps you should read up on the history of women and feminism and educate your underdeveloped pea brain before you reduce a movement such as feminism to a buzzword. It’s still a problem happening today unfortunately it doesn’t hark back to a time long gone and probably because of men like you to be honest.

Dave
June 5, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Look at all the name-calling. Tsk tsk. I see all races and genders as equal, thank you very much. I said it has been reduced to the buzzword by having people who aren’t aware of the general root of the problem, as with my given example of their Queen B(eyonce). I’m much more honest than your mind can wrap itself around, apparently haha. I support women and help them in positive ways instead of trying to support them for political ones and to brag on message boards haha.

Meoh
June 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Accept my apology, I read your post again and see I misinterpreted it completely. Feeling a bit pissed off about all this to be honest and a little hot headed, some of the comments I’ve read are unreal. A man that can support a woman and not worry about them being equals is so important, hope I haven’t offended you with my obviously undeserved rudeness.

quickeninghues
July 16, 2014 at 9:45 pm

I don’t know where the tunnel vision comment is coming from, but I agree with you about the “queens”. What I am most annoyed with is the sad fact that feminism has become a buzzword, and Lana’s answer gave the word even more buzz. Feminism connotes so much negative associations that the word itself has taken on an entirely new meaning, and that is mostly thanks to people who don’t understand that feminism is simply the advocacy of gender equality. That’s where I was trying to go with my earlier comment. When it stops being a buzzword, when people stop tiptoeing around it, then I’ll take it as a sign that gender equality has been established. Since people in the spotlight, like Lana, are still mostly shying away from the word, then our culture obviously isn’t ready to move beyond it. I don’t know if Lana didn’t defend feminism because she doesn’t know what it actually means or if she genuinely doesn’t believe that women should have the same rights as men. I’m hoping it’s the former. Otherwise…

I guess I do have a hard time understanding why a women living in the United States during the 21st century would feel disinclined to endorse gender equality. Is that what you meant by tunnel vision, Dave?

blipster
June 5, 2014 at 4:21 pm

She didn’t say it was more important, she simply said she wasn’t interested in it. My guess is that translates to either “i don’t know anything about feminism” or “i have been instructed to portray a very calculated persona and expressing any true opinion is not part of the deal”. Much like claiming she’s more interested in Space, yet has never actually offered any insight into the subject, thus leading me to believe it’s “i don’t know anything about feminism or space”

Dave
June 6, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I don’t pay her much mind so didn’t even know of this space interest of hers before this article. Space, aliens, alternate personalities, dying young and soon are all pretty much hot topics in pop now. That is a good point that you make if she doesn’t offer any further points of interest in regards to space. Wouldnt be surprised if she didn’t actually go to college haha

YevgeniaKrasnova
June 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm

She is master and commander of her own submissive exploration of femininity and psychology. Honestly, I can’t think of anything more liberated than that. She is comfortable enough in her own skin to explore masochism. There is true power in psychological surrender, and she gets that. She is operating on a totally different level, unconcerned with the cycle of world news and SJW think pieces.

Meoh
June 5, 2014 at 2:16 pm

But your comment is all about her, because she has experienced a privileged, wealthy upbringing in a society where gender equality is openly accepted (to a point). What about those women who don’t have that privilege, feminism is still very important to them and to be honest if Lana had a brain she would realize that feminism is also very important to her as without the feminist movement she wouldn’t be living the life she is. She has a lot of people to thank for that and by saying I find this concept of gender equality boring she is behaving like an ignorant, spoilt brat who clearly had it so good that she can’t comprehend it any other way. It’s not all about Lana about women of the world asking to be treated equally. I also find it amusing that most women in the music industry feel they are oppressed but oh not Lana according to her she pulls all her own strings. Come on get a grip I really hope you’re not a woman.

YevgeniaKrasnova
June 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Lana is first and foremost an extremely subjective individualist; this is how she has built her mythology. Of course, it’s selfish, privileged, and a byproduct of magical thinking (which she has admitted), but she is obliged to no one but herself.
Her mythology depends on her not letting outside influence, including gender politics, current events, or any context that forces her to place herself inside the realities of 2014 culture. She wants none of it, and she works hard to avoid it. She has told fans directly that reality can only let you down and that she recommends building your own internal world and living in it solely. She basically Waldens out — her own form of passive civil disobedience. Not popular these days, but Lana’s all about forcing her solipsistic fantasy into the fabric of pop culture. She’s done an astonishingly good job of it, too. For the sheer nerve of this process (plus the quality of her work), I admire her. Ironically, she’s no more guilty of inaction than those with PhDs in Ivory Towers armchair-crusading over SJW issues, all while doing zilch to change them — while she endeavors tirelessly to make the internal external, and gives us unique art in the process.

nateabel
June 5, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Her “mythology”? “Unique art”? “SJW thinkpieces”? I don’t know who you are, but you need to sit down. Lana is not a real artist.

MariaR
June 17, 2014 at 10:28 pm

And you are the arbiter of what real artists are? What hubris! This is an article on feminism and you’ve exposed yourself as a subjective hater?

Meoh
June 5, 2014 at 6:02 pm

That’s the funniest thing I’ve read for ages; magical thinking. What you describe is not some divine being on a mission but a narcissist with a serious borderline personality disorder.

Believe me Lizzy Grant eats, shits and gets on with it like the rest of us, she was very concerned about the world economy back in 2012 due to the financial collapse, so clearly politics do effect her particularly when it comes down to money, cause lets put it in perspective; she is a very privileged, white, middle class American who has had financial support on a 9 year path to a career in singing, most people would never have that opportunity and now as she always intended she is making a living out of it nothing more.

To be brutally honest Lizzy should really keep her fucked up solipsistic fantasies to herself, they are not healthy and can only breed narcissism as you clearly demonstrated in your hilarious post.

thegrandlarceny
June 5, 2014 at 6:13 pm

She probably is sick, but the fact is she makes it work for her. I think it’s important that pop stars with mental illness are given a chance to succeed. Isn’t that what real freedom is?

Blipster
June 5, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Wait why is she suddenly mentally ill? Famous people are naturally more narcissistic than the general population, but how is LDR narcissistic to the point of illness? I feel like this got dramatically off track…

Meoh
June 5, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Narcissism is a disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration.
If you believe that the treatment for that is to be a manufactured pop singer then you do but I’d suggest a more conventional treatment that is centred around psychotherapy, that way she is not only less harm to herself but more importantly less harmful to other people, particularly impressionable teenagers and success rates with this kind of treatment are very good. Narcissism is not a disease she’s not sick it’s an unhealthy state of mind that has been allowed to manifest.

Meoh
June 5, 2014 at 6:43 pm

It’s just another dramatic fan, it’s like lana can’t just be a cunt she has to be a mentally ill cunt. But no she’s just a narcissistic cunt who should probably get it sorted out.

blipster
June 5, 2014 at 6:54 pm

LOL well said.

Daniel Ho
June 18, 2014 at 10:43 am

Wow… This got misogynistic really quickly. You guys do realise that you are basically attacking a woman for speaking her mind right?

Vincent
June 5, 2014 at 11:55 pm

Give her a break man, it’s not like she went public with her answer and slapped it all over social media. She was asked a question and she answered honestly. Yes, it was a very lazy answer but why should she feel inclined to have to advocate feminism?
I think the point of the whole article is a bit blurry but I get that the media constantly hassling young female stars about whether they’re feminist or not isn’t really necessary. She’s a singer, not a politician. I agree that there is still a whole hell if a lot to achieve if gender equality is to progress but letting one jaded “doe-eyed” pop star seem as though she speaks for all other women with even a slight-sense of a political opinion is a bit much. Let her be.
Also, space exploration is fucking cool and super important (though probably not as important as gender equality) but I digress…

Leon
June 6, 2014 at 5:42 am

She did go public with her answer as it was an interview for Fader, which is a publication.
“why should she feel inclined to have to advocate feminism?” Because as any woman will know having the equality that they have now is down to feminism, the right to vote and the right to freedom, to suggest this is of no interest or relevance to you as a woman is just arrogant and ignorant.
I don’t think anyone thinks Lana the jaded “doe-eyed” pop star speaks for all other women but it certainly makes clear that Lana’s shtick doesn’t create any positivity in relation to gender equality. Which is worrying when the majority of her fans are very young teenagers. This is why she is asked these questions, because when you are on such a worldwide platform, such as a singer and it seems like you are portraying controversial issues it’s good to know what your shtick is really about but the truth is Lana doesn’t really know, she is clearly dim and manufactured, there is nothing behind the jaded “doe-eyed” pop star, so really please she cleared that up for the whole world to understand.

And space exploration is an interesting concept but as that’s a long way in the future and given that we still clearly have equality, moral and environmental issues on our own planet lets be positive and sort those out first before we go and fuck up another galaxy.

Did anyone else get the feeling the SpaceX and Tesla reply was you know, a little bit Miss America/Miss World…lmfao

triggerkeys
June 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm

As long as she sticks to the good music http://triggerbeats.com

lenni
June 5, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Sasha what feminist work is she doing exactly, cause from here it’s quite clear she likes to portray herself as a submissive woman, who is happy to be submissive to her men and take a good beating whilst she’s at it, I’m damn sure I’m not getting any equal rights vibes form any of this, in fact I don’t feel anything from it cause I know it’s just marketing, I mean who’s Lizzy gonna be next week.

Blipster
June 5, 2014 at 12:30 pm

The underlying (okay, blatant) theme to every LDR song is a love-sick, boy obsessed girl whose self-definition and very existence depend on her man. There is nothing remotely feminist about her. She’s not secretive, she’s not criptic. She’s a marketing ploy who gives no real definitive answers because she’s utterly vapid.

Charles
June 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I don’t think anyone really cares how low she goes to try and get headlines cause that’s about the ability of her talent, oh and attaining the focus of a group of under 16 year olds who don’t know any better, for about an hour max. So transparent, so boring, so f**k off cause I really don’t find you interesting Lana.

Anonymous
June 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

If you knew anything Charles, I would be suprised. Do you know of her degree in physics from Fordham. Do you know of her alcoholic and drug abuse outreach programs. Probably not, your too bored to look it up

Dave
June 5, 2014 at 2:08 pm

So good at her studies she became a vapid pop star. ‘merica.

Meoh
June 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm

She didn’t graduate in her degree, she dropped out for the record deal.

blipster
June 5, 2014 at 4:15 pm

also it was a metaphysics program which is quite different, lol

Anonymous
June 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I’d feel better if she could pretend to play an instrument…

Anonymous
June 5, 2014 at 11:59 am

Trouble here is Lana has not shown an iota of control or talent in her work, seems to be the figurehead of a sort of gross male driven PR committee hell bent on making her look like a prostitute to older guys in EVERY video, and quite honestly looks like a low IQ and unaware person… Feminism is better off without may jailer, lizzy grant, or lana del rey

Charles
June 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm

nice

Dave
June 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Exactly. This “intergalactic” agent is a mole haha

YevgeniaKrasnova
June 5, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Not an iota? She probably has more control over her career, and its unique position within culture, than any other pop figure right now. She is the true Marina Abramovic of pop, not Gaga, and one day this will become more clear.

bebop210
June 5, 2014 at 5:26 pm

You’re saying probably she has the control but I’ve seem no evidence of that and actually have seen evidence to the contrary.. At least lady gaga can play piano

Roe
June 5, 2014 at 11:23 am

Reblogged this on Roe Knows Best and commented:
Perfect article.
“Lana Del Rey is an enigma to be reckoned with—one that doesn’t need to identify as a feminist to do feminist work.”

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