My complex but entirely positive thoughts about Lana Del Rey + her songs (1)


I hear that you like the bad girls, honey – is that true?

In a song called Video Games. What do I see?

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Every. Time.

Now I don’t give a toss whether Bayonetta is “really” a “bad girl” or not, in-story, so shut up; she’s clearly two things. One is a Bad Girl (she had guns and a catsuit), the other is an idealised capital-F Female. She is everything that has ever hurt my heart about video games; everything that made me, as a conventionally facially attractive thin flat chested angsty white teenaged girl, feel like I wasn’t good enough to be a real contender for a (any of the type/s that I wanted) boy’s heart – or anything that a boy’s heart symbolised – that is, like I wasn’t good enough for anything fulfilling full stop.

Now I don’t mean to say that my entire teenagerhood was dominated by these feelings, that it was my only problem, that it is the biggest problem someone could have, that I had the worst of it or that I could never see out from under my worries and insecurities. I am saying that I remember how it felt to feel hurt and in pain directly because of the idealised sexual objectification that I saw in video games and other media. When I think about the design on Soul Calibur or Dead or Alive or whatever nowadays I do it with a curled lip and an analytical brain; I find it wanting, in the extreme, and I feel that it is a part of the visual sexism that regularly invades my life but I don’t want to CRY ABOUT IT any more, or at least I very nearly never do.

But I remember when I did, and Lana Del Rey sings it for me. She sings it for other people, too. Sometimes I think the whole song is turgid with that “I just stopped crying and I guess I should get something to eat, because what else is there in all the world” atmosphere and sometimes it just tastes like doing your best. That line (the one about bad girls) isn’t sung in a way that makes me think that she’s feeling it right then like I felt it in my further youth, but it is like the grown-up development. When you feel like you’re not quite good enough to be what you want to be to someone, but you know you’ll ever be more than you are and being what you are to them then feels like much better than nothing.

Why on earth should I care if she is “fake”?

When Sherin asked for people’s opinions on LDR I said “Video Games” sounds like memories. This is true. Some of them are the ones I say above, and some (for the rest of the song) are from later. The ones from later are not so unhappy, don’t worry. They’re just transitional and precious and a little afraid.

But those ones are private.

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By the way, I also think that Bayonetta’s design is bad.

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About Claire Napier

Real cool gal
This entry was posted in admiration, art, bitterness, bodies, bodyhorror, character design, characters, children are the future, complimenting the professionals, feminism, games, GRATITUDE, insulting the professionals, me, music, responsibility, STRONG OPINIONS, things i hate, things i heart, things to change and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to My complex but entirely positive thoughts about Lana Del Rey + her songs (1)

  1. Franca says:

    I couldn’t care less about her made up backstory, doesn’t everyone do that and isn’t that sort of the point of pop music to invent identities.

    I interpret that song totally differently. Pretty much all of the songs seem to me to be about love as self-sacrifice, I know my boyfriend is a shit, but hes all i’ve got and i’m gonna stick with him if it destroys me. I appreciate that that’s part of the character being created, but I can’t help thinking it’s also being presented as a good thing.

    The thing that really puts me off though is that there are TWO songs referring to her lover (can’t think of a better word) as daddy. I’ve actually removed those songs from my ipod so I can listen to the rest of them. But it’s tainted my enjoyment of all the other songs.

    • illusclaire says:

      I dunno if knowing that she wrote (most of?) her first album’s songs about two separate ex-boyfriends skewed my interpretation or not – but there’s something in her voice that allows me to hear a post-breakup mockery of these men for wanting/allowing the botched up painful imbalanced relationships to continue as long as they did.

      Like, they wanted her to call them daddy? They let her call them daddy? Well she remembers why she wanted to and how it all felt, but she’s not letting them off the hook for letting it happen, either.

    • illusclaire says:

      Here is my best attempt at how these songs sound to me: a compassionate account of mature-sized feelings re: immature relationships.

  2. Jean-Paul says:

    “Why on earth should I care if she is “fake”?”

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, THIS. Pop is all about ‘fakery’ and authenticity (whatever the hell that is) is next to meaningless. If a song makes you feel things, then I’d say it’s pretty fucking authentic and as real as it needs to be? I mean, what counts as an ‘authentic’ band, anyway? Paul Weller and the Welltones?

    I’m not actually super-aware of Lana Del Ray other than I know some pals that like her, and the media always goes on about her not being 4Real, but why the fuck does it matter? AAARGH. It’s so arbitrary who the media chooses to complain about!

    Also, I borrowed Bayonetta and played it to death, and told myself it was a critique/parody of sexism. I read a good article saying the button-bashing/stick-wiggling bits were to make it like the player was masturbating, thus showing them how ridiculous they are as a person. For a while, I could play the game in good conscience.

    Sadly, this also involved witnessing and trying (and failing) to rationalise so much hideous non-parodic misogyny and male-gaziness in the game. I also read some loathsome quotes from the game designer, and as a result I’m really not able to defend the game at all, anymore.

    And yeah, her design really isn’t great, though I do like an Almodovar gun-shoe.

    • Claire says:

      They play her aaaaallll the tiiiiime on 6music, which I HEAR your ladyfried likes so you can probably get a crash course if you so choose.

      But! Pop fakery. Yeah. I only have one ‘music poster’, and that poster is of mid-90s Misfits, and like.. I don’t actually believe that their hair naturally grows that way, or their faces are naturally so-coloured. I’m pretty sure they got those spikes added to things on purpose. Or, “Oh, those glam rockers, such losers, they don’t even tell the truth about whether they are from earth! I spit in their glitter!” A pop concept that is constructed and played with passion or conviction: that is what I want from The Music Industry. Glamour is fun.

      As far as I can tell, because there is no “here is why we hate lana del rey” wikipedia page (or, there wasn’t), people don’t like that she may have had collagen lip plumping (she says she hasn’t? So stop being awful? And so what if she has?) or that her father is apparently rich or maybe connected. I dunno.

      Masturbation simulation as a shame-based teaching aid is a fascinating concept! Gotta link?

  3. Jean-Paul says:

    I had a search for the stuff about Baynoetta, but I cannae find it! And am also wary of searching the internet using terms that link Bayonetta and masturbation…

    I am just no help at all.

  4. Really interesting. I never thought of how young girls might be internalizing or hating themselves because of video games. I like the different point of view on the song too.

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