On May 21, Lana Del Rey posted a letter about how she feels she is constantly being attacked for the themes of her music by alt writers and music critics in general. Most notably, she name-dropped several female celebrities such as Cardi B, Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé to question how these women can talk about their lifestyles within their music without receiving criticism, while she is ‘crucified’ for doing so.
I made the point to read Lana’s letter a couple of times to make sure I had a clear idea of what she was saying because I knew most people would stop at the part where she name-dropped the prominent artists stated in her letter. To be honest, as someone who considered herself a diehard Lana fan, this letter disappointed me.
Lana’s first mistake was diminishing these artists’ music. Her choice of artists could be debated, but at the end of the day, Lana chooses to use a majority of women of color to make a kind of comparison that is simply not there. She tries to imply that these women have been able to make this type of music and gain popularity without struggle of any kind, at least not the struggle she has had to face. Her comparison is weak because a majority of the women she listed are women of color who have to deal with far more than she has to due to their skin color.
Lana mentions that critics constantly condemned her older music. As an artist, she will inevitably face differing, often unfair opinions on the meaning of her music. It’s also important to note that Lana’s earlier work is exceptionally successful, so she shouldn’t be dwelling on music critics who have no real impact on her dedicated fanbase.
After Lana released this letter, she received a ton of criticism for her comparisons to the artists she mentioned.
Lana Del Rey: NO ONE was thinking about you. But leave it to white women to lump themselves with women of color, namely Black women, who are *always* attacked in and out of the industry for being a little too autonomous. Should have sat there and ate her unseasoned chicken.
— Preston Mitchum (@PrestonMitchum) May 21, 2020
Lana del Rey trying to say she's being more attacked for "not looking strong, in control, or is more delicate" in comparison w Beyonce, Nicki…..is exactly why black women are expected to "cope" with the abuse while WW need to be saved. The aggressive BW VS the poor white girl. pic.twitter.com/7WnvfCLFXC
— Julieth ❀ (@troubleshade) May 22, 2020
Dear Lana it's never been a Lana Del Rey only problem, Beyoncé is still getting hate for every move she does, women are still struggling to fully express themselves. And the crazy thing is most of the hate is coming from women and privileged white feminists. pic.twitter.com/Vya1FJ2ZsY
— Issa (@iBeyonceMusic) May 21, 2020
She posted two Instagram comments on her story and a second letter on May 22.
It is understandable why Lana chose these women to make her point. They are all women who have shown great results on the charts and to the media: they are at a point in their careers where their popularity can only go up. The problem is that Lana can’t name mostly women of color and not acknowledge the fact that you can’t simply remove their race from the conversation just because it makes you uncomfortable. She feels like there is no place for her in the music industry and that she didn’t have the same opportunity to express herself, but she can’t be any more wrong. She thinks just because these women have been doing well; they don’t face criticism.
Once again, she further victimized herself, convinced that the industry is alienating her — that the topics that she sings about make her different. In reality, Lana is not the first woman to sing lyrically emotional type songs. In fact, she claims to have paved the way, when women before her, including women of color like Nina Simone and Billie Holiday, were singing about similar subject-matter. She can’t ignore race being a huge factor in the way people perceive her words when if you want to have a conversation about music and double standards, race should be one of the first topics presented.
Lana also took the time to post a second and final letter about the topic.
It’s frustrating because Lana could have centered her letter on how critics have mislabeled her. Still, her letters instead create a comparison between women who make a more lyrical type of music and women who don’t. She named those artists to represent women who make music that represents more dominant women. Still, she messed up by reducing their music to only that, painting them as one-dimensional artists, compared to Lana, who is ‘delicate and often dismissed.’
If her point is to say she can’t write songs that are soft and emotional, but these artists can write music about unstable relationships and their sexuality, she is ignoring the artistry of these women. She has also knowingly or unknowingly called herself delicate while the women she listed are not — a common description of women of color, especially black women.
At the end of the day, Lana Del Rey’s letter wasn’t a personal attack on the artists she mentioned. Her attempt to try to make a comparison and try to say that these women enjoying commercial success have not struggled with criticism and are able to release the music they want without harsh feedback is incredibly wrong. She needs to take a step back and reevaluate the industry she is in. Musical artists, who are also women of color, are constantly criticized for the music and image they choose to put out. They aren’t exempt from hate; in fact, the hate they receive often crosses the line of music and has to do with looks and skin color.
The topic brought up in her letters is incredibly important, but creating that difference between herself and other women in the industry simply because she believes there’s no place for her is so wrong. Lana, feminism was created for women like you. White, delicate and soft women.
Featured Image via Lana Del Rey’s Instagram