You’ve heard of Lana Del Rey, right? She’s a singer who I don’t enjoy (and not for any cool reasons). Mostly she’s entered in to my mental horizon of late because Death and Taxes, an online magazine that I do enjoy, has been pretty obsessed with a story concerning her.
It seems that in an interview she was talking about how glamorous dying young was and how she wished she was dead already. So your basic idiot bullshit from a basically idiotic bullshit person.
I’m not trying to be the stereotypical hipster here and attack Del Rey to make myself look better in the process. Like I said I’m not a fan. Most of her songs, that I have heard, remind me of a particularly dismal Gregorian Chant. Really, I’m not trying to be superior when I say that; the kind of person who thinks that it’s a good idea to romanticize suicide (knowing full well that your audience is made up of impressionable teenagers who already feel that every minor tragedy is on par with the implosion of the universe) is exactly the kind of person who deserves an excruciatingly long life, plummeting into mediocrity and eventually, adult diaper commercials.
I’m not attacking Del Rey because I think I’m better It’s just that I get the impression that she’s a profiteer, a sadnessmonger who wears depression like it’s the latest scent by Chanel.
What I’m getting at, is that lately I’ve started reading David Foster Wallace.
I’m late on that train I know, but holy shit! is he incredible. Every time I start reading I’m filled with an appreciation and a good helping of jealousy. The man had a command over language and an artistic vision that was thoroughly unique and nothing less than breathe taking. Aside from being super jealous of his gifts, I’ve also been thinking about the people that suicide takes out of this world and the works of art that it deprives from us.
I’ll back up a bit and regale you once more with lovely stories from my childhood; I was a weird kid. I was lonely and awkward (was might not be the best verb) and it was the heyday of the emo movement. As a your basic idiot myself, I was totally on board with the idea that suicide was romantic, so was sadness and depression and I, with other idiots like me, fantasized and glamourized pain and suffering, miss reading Plath and Dickenson, and completely losing the plot of Camus’s The Stranger.
You know how sometimes kids would miss class because they had to get braces or their appendix removed? Maybe you, like me, would get jealous because they’d come back as these big stars, with their scars and heroic tales of doctor’s and anesthetics. Well, that was the basic attitude towards depression in some subcultures when I was in high school. So having depression was like winning the lottery of being noteworthy and interesting, and in a society where people are in a paradoxical flux state of trying to fit in and wanting to stand out, being as depressed and sometimes more depressed as everyone else could be just what you wanted to give your little life a bit of definition.
But what this factious attitude towards depression results in is a dangerous belittling of a serious issue. I remember being on a bus with a friend of mine who had gotten back from the hospital after a rumored suicide attempt, and watching another girl taunt her, running her fingers down the length of her forearm, along the vein, saying instructively “suicide” and then running that same finger across her wrist, “attention.” She declared it in such a way that even though I knew she wasn’t right, that there was some deeply, earnestly the matter with my friend, I still sat there silently convincing myself that, no, what was wrong was that she went to far in our playacting of pain. I still regret not doing more for that girl… I think that it was our shallow romanizing of depression as simply a form of depth which diluted the very realness of that girl almost ending her own life.
Is this not the very thing that most thwarts a rational discussion of mental illness in this country? This idea that those who suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts are just looking for pity and need to pull themselves together?
When people like Del Rey glamorize earlier death and monetize on a death wish they are part of the problem. These sort of shallow attempts to seem deep and meaningful make life for the people who actually struggle with this disease, this henious, crushing, painful, disease, that much worse. The realness of their pain is being prostituted in the public image by pseudo-artists and attention whores, and these apish clowns deprive the thing of any of it’s legitimacy.
To further beat the dead horse (because this truly seems to be a point people cant’ get) depression is a disease and a brutal one. The people who suffer from it deserve respect, not trivialization from some vapid pop star in a completely misguided and irresponsible attempt to seem cool.
Like John Green and others have said “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Depression deserves to be treated as a valid and debilitating illness. Not as some PR stunt.
So basically, fuck you Lana Del Rey. Death is not glamorous, it is permanent and ugly. Find some other way to sell your dirges, or, at very least, shut up about something you know nothing about.