Lana Del Rey did something, so I looked at it and wrote about it, then you came here and looked at it, and that’s how things are probably going to go, back and forth, over and over, for the foreseeable future, so we might as well just accept it for what it is. That something in question is her new EPIC ten minute video for the song “Ride.”
The video begins with a voice over monologue in which her character catches us up to speed on the details of her life.
“I was a singer. Not a very popular one,” she says, as we cut through scenes of her swinging on a tire in the desert, letting her hair flow in the breeze on the back of a motorcycle, walking to the store all by herself to buy a soda and then murdering someone, all things that your average American girl dreams about being able to do some day.
“I once had dreams of becoming a beautiful poet. But, upon an unfortunate series of events saw those dreams dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky that I wished on, over and over again, sparkling and broken.”
I’d say one of the unfortunate events was thinking she was a poet with a turd simile like that, but maybe it’s something else. Probably something tragic and melodramatic. Not really sure what happened next because I had to skip ahead—the song doesn’t start until about 3:50 in. And then, well, once she starts doing her actual job, that whole singing and the music and what not, things finally start to get interesting. There’s an aching warble in her voice when sings, “I hear the birds on the summer breeze,” and it makes you forget all of the attendant baggage that comes with the Lana Del Rey brand. H&M Model Game Roy Orbinson over here.
“I’ve been traveling too long, I’ve been trying too hard,” she sings, and, ok, that last bit would be easy to pick on, but god bless her for trying. Who else is even putting this much effort into constructing the type of grand, sweeping, star narrative that she is anymore? We need Lana Del Rey, we should thank her for that. You can argue that it’s inauthentic, but let’s not forget that literally every single performer that you’ve ever come across has been playing a role of some sort themselves, as are we when we receive those roles. It’s like the old joke about a prostitute, which is apropos here, as that seems to be the character she’s playing in the film: “We’ve already established what kind of woman you are, now we’re just haggling over the details.” That’s in no way meant to single out Del Rey as a woman plying womanly artifice or whatever witchcraft misogynist line you might tease out of it. We’re all, literally, full of shit, wearing a mask, testing out the poses. We don’t all have a big budget to set those pensive, trembling steps to pretty visuals, and fewer people may pay attention to our efforts, but the Lana Del Rey motive implicates all of us.
It’s not coincidence that she leans on the American flag imagery so much—she is literally the embodiment of the American dream.
“Who are you?” she asks toward the end. “Are you in touch with all of your darkest fantasies? Have you created a life where you can experience them? I have. I am fucking crazy. But I am free.”