Even When She Wants to Die, Lana Del Rey Can't Help But Play to Type

Lana Del Rey, the pop singer most likely to be a phantom sent by Livejournal circa 2003 to haunt us, told a Guardian interviewer this week, "I wish I was dead already."

Read on, and you will learn that what troubles Del Rey is her fame, just like Norma Desmond. Of the success of her first single, she says:

I never felt any of the enjoyment... It was all bad, all of it.

She felt bombarded by critics. Her life is a "really fucked-up movie." And she is not turned on by money:

What I actually wanted was something quiet and simple: a writer's community and respect.

All emotionally sentient humans feel a little sorry for her, reading that. It's also impossible not to notice that this sort of confession makes Del Rey seem even more like a stereotype than the real person she obviously also is.

Let me be clear: In the matter of authenticity in pop music figures, I'm an agnostic. It seems obvious to me that pop music stars are the subject of huge media-image manufacturing machines that bend and contort the real humans stuck to their candy-colored centers. It is also obvious to me that sometimes the real human in the middle has some control over the machine. The degree obviously varies from person to person. So it's kind of pointless to argue either that she's faking or that she's not.

But it's hard to imagine that Lana Del Rey is not aware that her persona as the depressed, disconnected, unhappy, journal-writing type is what rocketed her to fame in the first place. It was that affect of hers that made "Video Games" memorable, even if you found her cloying and hated the song. It's what makes that gif of her dancing in a microwave kind of fun.

It's plainly more than a lowbrow thing, too. Depressed, troubled women are having A Moment right now in literary-artistic circles. That Magazine did a photoshoot, a bad one, of suicidal women artists last year that I think provoked a backlash because the figure is kind of treasured right now. Eimear McBride just won the new Bailey Prize for her experimental novel A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, whose title gives you an idea of the contents. Even Obvious Child, the indie Jenny Slate movie that everyone I know who's seen it has loved, has a melancholy, disaffected element to it. It's not a "trend," per se. But it is a cultural groundswell that seems likely to go on for some time.

Which means, for someone like Del Rey, that she can't help but seem like something that fits into it. Even if she really is that depressed—and often the rich and famous are, there are a great many Donald Spoto biographies that testify to that—she's stuck sounding like everyone else when she expresses it. She sounds like she's reading from a script.

Because paradoxically, by becoming something everyone is interested in, and talks about, the female depressive risks becoming a cliché.

[Photo via Getty]