Dope and diamonds

A Lana Del Rey Reader


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Lana del Rey by Pamela Cochrane

“What if her pussy tastes like Pepsi cola? And if all she wants is dope and diamonds, so what? What if the most radical – fuck it, feminist – thing you can do is believe everything a girl says about her life, whether or not you like it?”


In her essay The Fake As More, reproduced here from a supplement in The New Inquiry from July 2014, Sarah Nicole Prickett asks us to consider the idea that, despite endless accusations of affectation and fakery, Lana Del Rey might be extremely real indeed. This bootleg collection pursues that premise.

Lana Del Rey embodies many things that women are not supposed to be. She is ugly yet desirable. In her lyrics and self-conceived music videos, she reinforces a range of problematic, outmoded and damaging female stereotypes. Her narratives glamourise objectification and the accumulation of wealth, alongside female financial disempowerment, assault and abuse. She prioritises boys on bikes and ignores her friends, if she even has any. Her protagonists don’t run the world, they are not independent women and they are not doing it for themselves. Instead they defer to a selection of fathers and boyfriends, drug addicts and pimps, priests and police officers.

Lana is variously lethargic and confrontational, vulgar yet deeply sensitive. Her contradictions are rehearsed and precise. She also represents a nuanced, vulnerable and flawed femininity rarely explored in contemporary pop, exposing the emptiness and hypocrisy of sloganistic corporate feminism, of the arbitrary codes of sisterhood, and the regime of empowerment and ‘keeping it real’.

Dope and diamonds: A Lana Del Rey Reader is edited by Billie Muraben and Lillian Wilkie, and contains texts by Kate Aronoff, Arild Fetveit, Christopher Glazek, James Franco, Ann Powers, Sarah Nicole Prickett, Jia Tolentino and Catherine Vigier. The copyright of each work remains with the original author and/or publisher.

A limited number of printed copies were released at 2pm on Sunday 27th September 2020 with all proceeds going to the PCS Tate Commerce Strike Fund.