Anyone who knows me understands that I find great pleasure in publicity train wrecks, so naturally I’m completely transfixed by Lana Del Rey right now.
Back in November, when she was just another talented YouTube sensation waiting to blow up, I wouldn’t have known, or frankly, cared, about the origins of indie pop’s latest girl du jour. Additionally, I wouldn’t have familiarized myself with the pompous term “girl du jour” specifically for the purpose of describing her. But after much hype and a calamitously under-prepared “Saturday Night Live” performance, she became the new hipster “it girl” of my heart.
The Jan. 14 appearance, which was Del Rey’s mainstream American TV debut, was more akin to a breakdown than a breakthrough. When she sang “Video Games,” her biggest success to date and a song which is ordinarily quite breathtaking, the result was a mishmash of husky warbling and painfully discomforted swaying: obviously, I “favorited” it on YouTube.
This isn’t because I enjoy mocking Lana Del Rey in particular, even if her pillowy upper lip and lack of conditioned stage presence provide me and every other troll in the internet dungeon a lot of ammunition. Watching a precocious celebrity fall into a downward spiral just re energizes my joie de vivre in a way I can’t really explain.
Truth be told, even five years after the fact, I’m still running on the endorphin-rush of cueballed Britney Spears’ umbrella-swinging rampage. And thank goodness for Britney’s shears because by ’07, I was already coming down from the high of Ashlee Simpson’s “SNL” hoedown. Of course, we must acknowledge that stories like these are all buoyed along by the omnipresent flow of Lohan drama, which, although having lost some of its luster, retains all dependability.
It’s comforting to know that even if Christina Aguilera finds a way to stop looking like a drag queen version of herself tomorrow, I can still rest easy knowing that Lindsay Lohan will probably be back in a SCRAM bracelet before the slated apocalypse. This is good, because the way critics are discussing Del Rey’s performance, the end may be more nigh than previously thought.
The most striking thing about the critical responses to the performance — especially those circulating the internet — is the melodrama. People are acting like it’s the second coming of Sinead (O’Connor, who shredded a picture of Pope John Paul II during a live 1992 broadcast). “RIP Lana Del Rey’s Career, December 2011 — January 2012” reads one of the more forthright Tumblr posts; “Worst performance ever?” asks a Huffington Post headline.
It was, of course, the very melodramatic essence of these headlines that piqued my interest in the first place. But it was when Juliette Lewis and Eliza Dushku – two thriving embodiments of celebrity — tweeted their negative opinions on the performance that I could no longer resist seeing for myself.
Disappointingly, though, what I saw ended up being less catastrophic than I had previously hoped. I figured any girl who Eliza Dushku felt qualified to deem “Wack-a-doodle” stood a chance at being my new Heidi Montag circa 2009. But once again I found that, not unlike many of Lewis’ and Dushku’s career decisions, the critiques were misguided.
The performance was bad — perhaps even terrible — but it won’t fuel my fire nearly as long as, say, Mel Gibson’s alcohol-induced anti-Semitism; that kind of scandal doesn’t expire for at least two years. Of course I still have every intention of basking in the LDR fiasco’s afterglow for as long as I can; I just worry about what I’m going to do if its novelty wears off before the next media-covered meltdown.
Will I have to resort to reading about celebrities’ happiness? Comebacks? Baby bumps (belonging to anyone but Jamie Lynn Spears)? That isn’t nearly as fulfilling as watching someone revered by the public flub in a profound fashion. I can’t make fun of that. I can’t write about that. I think I’ll just have to settle for prolonging this whole Lana Del Rey mess and hope that the Jan. 31 release of her album sees a renewed sense of hate aimed in her direction.
A small part of me might be sad to see this happen to my girl du jour, but that’s the price you pay for following juicy media drama like a national pastime. Besides, something tells me that, so long as nobody else steps up to take her place in the spotlight of embarrassment, I’ll be happy to join in on the mockery soon enough.
DYLAN GALLAGHER would love to hear your Christina Aguilera drag queen names at firstname.lastname@example.org.