Lana Del Rey’s video for ‘Ride’ is sad. She plays a hooker who goes home with the Hairy Bikers and talks about being “fucking crazy”. She’s a good actress; you can see the desire for oblivion and escape in her eyes.
Blanche DuBois – the neurasthenic wreckage in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire – is the key reference here. Del Rey’s character atrophies into prostitution, seeking safety in other people. She relies on the “kindness of strangers”. Another reference is well-trodden by the self-styled ‘Lolita in the hood’. Tangerine soda and lollipops evoke the bait Humbert Humbert buys Dolores Haze to keep her happy after he persuades her to drive away with him. The reference to Lolita is made unequivocal by the dynamic between the young girlish provocateur in a bow and white knickers, and her much older lovers.
The aesthetics are very ‘Born To Die’: scarlet talons, red converse, crucifix earrings, stars ‘n’ stripes flags, tattoos and guns. It’s no surprise she wrote the script of the film. “I was a singer, not a very popular one,” she drawls in the opening first-person monologue. Although we assume it’s not autobiographical, this sounds as if it could be a jibe at her critics.
Those who see Del Rey as “anti-feminist” may take umbrage with her suggested acceptance of a young woman selling sex for a roof over her head (the final words are “I’m fucking crazy… but I am free”). It’s not exactly an empowering watch but it’s certainly a late entrant for music video of the year. What do you think?