Fandoms at war, angry Twitter, and a LOT of misinterpretation
The name Lana Del Rey might sound familiar to you if you have good taste in music, and for her devoted fans like me, it is always stressful to see her under attack by the media. Others, with the opposite point of view, were ready to summon their digital pitchforks and torches back in May after she posted a “controversial” message on her Instagram:
Everyone has the right to have a different opinion. In my belief, that opinion should be generated after thorough reading and thinking, and this goes not only for the people angry at Lana, but also for the fans who like me could be biased when formulating a response. My goal is to analyze the controversy, bring forward the different reactions, and then give my personal thoughts.
If you go to the comment section of the post, you will find countless hateful comments, people calling her out, voicing their disappointment, calling her a Karen and a racist bitch—everything. The masses were angry. It seems to me that what they read was this:
The rest of the message was disregarded and turned into an alleged racist attack on women of color in the music industry. Had that been the goal of the post, I would have been angry too, and disappointed to see my idol saying hurtful things—but Lana didn’t do any of that. It wasn't her intention to belittle the contributions of black female artists or to render her voices less important than her own. In a second post regarding the same message, Lana clarified that she named those artists because she loves them, not the other way around. It’s all on her Instagram.
The artists she named are some of the most successful women in the industry at the moment, and the fact that the majority of them are black, had nothing to do with the post and Lana’s criticism towards the music industry. This critique was geared towards lyrics and the content of their songs, how people responded to them, and then stating that her own attempt to do something similar, has led critics to tear her apart for the past ten years. That was the main point of the first paragraph.
However, I know that the artists she mentioned have also faced countless challenges in their rise to the top, some involving their race, and the media has not made it easy for them at all. Their journeys and individual struggles are, in my opinion, admirable. There was a problem in not addressing that in the post, but I don’t feel like Lana wanted to disregard the trajectory of the other artists, but rather question why the industry responded different to certain individuals based on the content of their songs.
As soon as the post went viral, all the massive fandoms of the mentioned artists were ready to go to war, overthrow the government, turn into the Hulk, everything. Nicki, Beyoncé, and Ariana have insanely devoted fans. A considerable army, all attacking Lana and her fandom. Us, the troubled gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, swaying in the wind and picking up blue hydrangeas from a prairie, daydreaming about L.A. Of course we couldn’t defend ourselves. We were too busy with our own shit to deal with the storm that raged through Twitter. That day, Lana fans smoked more cigarettes than Lana has in her whole life out of anxiety.
Now bear with me, I believe that one of the finest lyricists of our generation could have phrased that first paragraph far better, and thus avoid the misinterpretation and the controversy. The name dropping itself could have been eliminated too, and the post would have still delivered its intended effect. For those still skeptical and thinking that Lana was attacking the other artists, I will show you what Lana really looks like when she has beef with someone:
It is a good thing that the public is becoming more active and inclined to call celebrities out when they misuse their massive platforms. Especially with something about race. Celebrities should realize that their huge reach will always mean that their words carry a strong impact. I believe that Lana was trying to use her platform to discuss important issues about women in the music industry that have been overlooked in the past. That message was, of course, thrown into the trash by all the hateful comments and the attempted cancellation of her career. People also seemed to have ignored how on the second slide of the post, she announced her decision to donate proceeds of her upcoming project to the Navajo nation. No one tweeted about that.
Other people, incapable of understanding what a double-negative is, claimed she wasn’t a feminist and attacked her for it. Lana also said: there has to be a place in feminism for women who look and act like me. And people thought she was talking about her whiteness as she wrote “people who look like me,” and I can see why it is an understandable interpretation. At first. Then, in the next sentence, she explains in detail what she means by that. It’s right there in the first photo, and reiterated in the complementary post she wrote:
Can you appreciate someone’s work while still being critical of the person they are? Can you separate the artist from the individual? These are questions worth asking yourself.
Some people decided to stop listening to Lana after the post, some were angry and kept listening to her songs anyway, others defended her. Us fans have no control over what the artist chooses to do, but we do choose to support them, sometimes unconditionally and biased by fanaticism. It is a true issue related to the so-called “Stan-culture”. If Lana had said something like “All lives matter,” I would have found it very difficult to listen to her songs afterwards, no matter how majestic they sounded. My whole perception of her as an artist would have shifted completely, because I think it’s important to be critical of what an artist stands for. But news flash, she never said something of the sort. Read the post. Not once, not twice, but multiple times, before calling her something disrespectful.
In the song Brooklyn Baby, Lana said: “They judge me like a picture book, by the colors, like they forgot to read,” and it seems pretty appropriate now. So does her cover of Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”