The Symbolic Lana Del Rey
First please enjoy with me the music video in question: Young and Beautiful
First and immediate impression while watching it this afternoon, despite being completely brain dead from finishing finals, it jumps out at you that she is wearing the gem tear drops a la Lil Wayne:
What gives? Did she recently kill someone? Just get back from prison? No? You sure? Alright so does someone die in the song? Kinda, sorta, maybe? As the video progresses the death symbolism gets deeper with the orchestra director guy mimicking the suicide pose she romanticized in her Summertime Saddness music video:
So theres the suicide angle that is then reinforced by her walking toward a gate filled with light, no doubt symbolizing heaven as she asks God to let her bring her man with her when she gets there. All of that is really obvious though, and doesn’t answer the question of why she would need to wear the tears if she merely wanted to get the death point across. Meanwhile what does any of this have to do with Gatsby, if anything other than to be a sad love song that plays nicely on the soundtrack? Here is your answer:
A subtle mimicking of the original Gatsby cover art. That red lipstick and the celestial eyes and most importantly THE TEARS MOURNING THE DEATH OF THE AMERICAN DREAM.
But ok yeah, so if she’s copying the cover, why not just actually let some real tears flow? Here is where I think the subtly is the most brilliant, because seriously why not let one elegant single tear roll to get your comparative artistic jollies? Because the tattooed tears are symbolic of killing someone. *Spoiler* Which, since Gatsby ends up killing someone and paying for it later, the homage to the tattooed tears is so much more powerful, even if only subconsciously, than if she had just used real tears.
Oh my gosh and if you wanted to be political and feminist about it, if she had actually cried it would have been an acquiescence of weakness, while wearing the tattooed-tears instead gives her a strong masculine edge AND puts her in a role of dominance because they imply that she did the killing. Which is even more meaningful since it is Daisy’s fault everyone dies in the book. So then there is the element that Lana could loosely be portraying Daisy, but do the lyrics back this up? Indeed they do! They might as well be verbatim from Daisy’s portions of dialogue in the book as well as fit the character of her shallow preoccupations with beauty.
So Lana is portraying a powerful, but still weak minded Daisy in addition to paying tribute to the strong overtones of death that rule the book. The fine crafting of all this is so beautiful in contrast to the stark in-your-faceness of Luhrmann and his interpretation.
It’s ironic that Lana Del Rey was recruited to sing on The Great Gatsby soundtrack, since her well-explored aesthetic of glamor gone to seed dovetails perfectly with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original text—and not Baz Luhrmann’s glitzy, bright-colored explosion of 1920s excess with all the happening dance choreography and immaculate art direction. She just released a video for that song, “Young and Beautiful,” where she sings while accompanied by an orchestra, draped in striking colors and shadows. It’s a simple enough set-up, but there’s something grandiose in the direction as accompanied by her throaty vocal ruminating on whether love turns to something else after all the artifice has worn off and there’s nothing but people.
BULLET Magazine broke the news of the video today and accompanied it with this bit of analysis, to which I would like to add and reveal that the “something grandiose” is the metaphor for Daisy killing everyone and Lana taking on that role.
The metaphor of the tears meaning killing in relation to the tears mourning the American dream could then be dissected and connected to the death of love after beauty fades, but I’ll let someone else worry/write about that one since that could get super political.
I wrote a thing…I just really like metaphors ok