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Is Lana Del Rey canceled? Examining her latest controversies

Lana Del Rey has been almost unrecognizable to her long-time fans after pictures revealed her to be posing with bleach blonde hair and a netted mask.  – Photo by Twitter

Queen of alternative Lana Del Rey has been under fire for a few recent mishaps and the impact of her music. The singer, known for her dark lyrics disguised under ethereal pop melodies, has long been criticized for glorifying abuse in her music.

Back in May, she released a statement on Instagram countering this view and called out mainstream culture for allowing artists like Doja Cat, Beyoncé, Ariana Grande and Cardi B to sing about “being sexy, wearing no clothes, f***ing, cheating, (etc.)," while criticizing her for the same thing.

"I just want to say over the last ten years I think it’s pathetic that my minor lyrical exploration detailing my sometimes submissive or passive roles in my relationships has often made people say I’ve set women back hundreds of years,” Del Rey said.

Twitter users have expressed why this is problematic, calling the singer out for tearing down mostly women of color to defend herself. One user said, “just because you're getting negative feedback doesn't give you the right to hate on other artists (also don't (minimalize artists' careers) to be about the same thing).”

Del Rey also received backlash for wearing a mesh, netted mask at a book signing event in Los Angeles. The mask was thin enough to reveal her face and possibly expose her to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This didn’t leave a good look and was disappointing to fans like me. Without addressing the matter, the star appeared later in a video on Instagram wearing a camouflage fabric mask.

Whether the star has glorified abuse is a contentious debate. Casual listeners may not register Del Rey’s allusions to domestic abuse and passivity. From the birth of her career, she’s sung about unhealthy relationships, addiction and abuse.

In her 2014 titular track, “Ultraviolence,” she opens with a lyric about being referred to as poison by her lover. More direct references to abuse are, “he hurt me and it felt like a kiss” and “he hurt me but it felt like true love.” Del Rey said in 2017 that she no longer likes the former line and that it simply reflects the type of love she was used to, according to Pitchfork Media.

She even said that her song, “Cola,” was inspired by a Harvey Weinstein-like figure, which she has since retired following Weinstein’s sexual assault allegations.

In response to accusations of promoting anti-feminist ideas, the singer said in her Instagram post that she wasn’t against feminism, although she has said earlier she’s “not interested” in the topic. 

To add to the list, Del Rey has engaged in several accounts of cultural appropriation. She appropriated Latin-American culture in her short film, “Tropico,” by dressing as a Latino gangster. In her music video for “Ride,” she opted for a Native American headdress. Granted, these instances were in 2012 and 2013 when awareness about cultural appropriation was new.

Sure, there are women who consent to enact passive roles, but glorifying it in mainstream culture can be dangerous, especially for an artist with a partially young fanbase.

But, this can obstruct an artist’s integrity and honesty in their music. Del Rey said that she wants “women who look like (her)” to have more of a voice in the feminist movement –meaning those who don’t look as strong or in control but more delicate and fragile. 

The artist is also dating reality TV star and cop Sean Larkin, first being photographed with him in October 2019. With recent accounts of police brutality and aggression swiping the country, Del Rey has entered in murky waters with this decision.

When asked if she was nervous about the public response, Del Rey said, “Well, the thing is, he's a good cop. He gets it. He sees both sides of things,” which sparks the good versus bad cop debate and whether good cops really exist.

I would hope that in 2020 we’ve abandoned the trend of “canceling” people. But, Del Rey still has a lot of work to do regarding her approach to feminism, health and public issues.

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