What Does the Lana Del Backlash tell us about Social Media?
The last few months have definitely seen tons of new cultural backlashes emerge on the Internet, and none have been more interesting to watch and dissect then the majesty of Lana Del Rey. From her self-produced YouTube hit “Video Games”, Del Rey rose from a meager viral hit to an Interscope record deal in a matter of a few months. Almost as immediately as her video was reaching millions of views, the Social Media bandwagon began heralding her as the downfall of authentic indie culture as we know it. Not to mention her signing with a major label and subsequent poor / ill-prepared SNL performance, which eventually made the backlash movement delve into overdrive as she became a perpetual trending topic for all the wrong reasons.
One of the most important questions and cultural signifiers that’s raised within this indie-meme is does she really deserve such an onslaught of negative criticism, and how does the culture of Social Media change the landscape and sway the opinion of the masses? It seems that a lot of the discussion of Lana Del Rey almost sidesteps the actual quality of her musical output, and instead focuses on her aesthetic being sold to the masses under the guise of indie credibility.
People are used to the svengali wrangled boy bands and pop groups that have existed as long as popular music itself, but they aren’t as comfortable with being sold what seems like a pre-packaged all encompassing musician within the realm of the indie sphere. From her name change, to her earlier more mainstream oriented material, and the nonstop Instagram pictorials with her Real Housewives pouty duck lips du jour, and “gangster Nancy Sinatra” pandering, no matter how authentic or contrived the mélange actually was, it had literally every tastemaker and even their most uninformed underlings crying fowl.
Even Brian Williams, who wouldn’t even qualify as a Guided by Voices cool dad, jumped on the anti Del Rey bandwagon when Gawker released a snarky email he sent to their Media chief Nick Denton, but is all of this hoopla just the Internet overreacting as it always does? Sure maybe her image was a little too grungy polished, like the fashionistas who spend $3,000 to look homeless, but is her music really of such low quality too deserve such a massive indie-meme backlash?
Sometimes what happens especially with Social Media is these trends or anti-trends kind of snowball quickly accumulating muster from minute specks of gravel. Once Pitchfork picks it up, then it’s The Fader, then Gawker, and it eventually trickles down to every grassroots blog and Tumblr with an attaché RSS feed. Hipster Runoff, probably the all time most important meta-scathing hipster blog, even temporarily changed their name to the “Lana Del Report” and for a few days they had literally up to the minute coverage of every tiny revelation in the Lana saga, which was especially honed and perfectly articulated in their infamous Content Farm post that critiqued the way indie blogs feed off of alt-memes just to satiate their audience’s thirst for negative criticism and new culture to dissect and disarm.
Overall it’s really important to take a look at how Social Media can alter and affect the sway of public opinion, even in these micro-genres and indie circles. There’s definitely some aspect of Del Rey’s aesthetic and output possibly being contrived, but with the advent of technology and instantaneous sharing of opinions, these memes and their subsequent backlash can literally take form overnight. Sometimes it’s important to not formulate an opinion until the entire picture presents itself. The majority of this happened way before her major label debut was released, and then after it came out and was number one in 11 albeit mostly European countries, their was then the inevitable backlash to the original backlash, which goes to show how quickly these things can emerge and dissipate, just to make room for another indie-meme to be roasted over the coals.