The Twitter Trials of Lana Del Rey
On Pepsi Cola, Cancellation, and ‘Questions for the Culture’
For the first time in history, four Black women occupied the top two spots on the Billboard 100, as Doja Cat, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, and Megan Thee Stallion released the ‘Say So Remix’ and ‘Savage Remix’ charting at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively.
Three of the four artists share another feat in common: a reference in one of Lana Del Rey’s latest Instagram posts.
“Question for the Culture: Now that Doja Cat, Ariana, Camila, Cardi B, Kehlani and Nicki Minaj and Beyonce have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, f*cking, cheating etc – can I please go back to singing about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money – or whatever I want – without being crucified or saying that I’m glamorizing abuse ?????” (@lanadelrey on Instagram)
The statement goes on to become a lengthier discussion of her own criticisms, an assertion of her own lyrical artistry too often “slated mercilessly” by years of “bullshit reviews”. The post (or perhaps better termed a poorly sourced dissertation) received a few mixed reviews in its own right; at the very least, invoking Beyonce’s name calls for critique.
Beyonce herself has released cultural commentary on state-sponsored violence, which consistently garners politicized threats and retaliations. She, alongside the other women (predominantly women of color) Del Rey mentions are consistently subjected to ungrounded claims of hyper-sexualization and immorality, unable to escape the Madonna-Wh*re binary Lana seems to conjure.
Of course, Lana has long been seen as a perpetrator of regressive sexual politics, yet seems to describe herself with a certain exceptionalism.
What killing me is Lana thinking she’s gotten more harsh critique than a Nicki Minaj or a Beyoncé throughout their careers.
— @elonmusk invent the BBL pill ?? (@lunahi6h) May 21, 2020
She rebukes those claims by stating “There has to be a place in feminism for women who look like me”: yet, as has always been the case, feminism is for women who look exactly like Lana Del Rey.
Writer and speaker Jamilah Lemieux was quick to call out the hypocrisy:
I don’t know who was giving Lana Del Rey a hard time but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Black women. Girl, sing your little cocaine carols and leave us alone.
— jamilah (is in the crib like you should be.) (@JamilahLemieux) May 21, 2020
As of now we remain without the scantest trace of a notes-app apology, and the post still stands. In the meantime, we’ll continue to celebrate the women on top of the charts, the ones redefining what intersectional feminism means and paving the way for others. Their feats are well deserved, yet bear the question what took so long? The answer might just be somewhere within Lana’s post (read: essay), and the ‘cancel culture’ which, time and time again, leads to little meaningful change.
Read V’s conversation with Doja Cat here.