I look forward to Lana Del Rey’s music videos more than I look forward to most things in my life—including holidays. Ironically, both are either American or religious-based. So maybe that’s where my obsession with Lana lies: deep down somewhere in my upbringing.
Brought up Roman Catholic, I spent 12+ years of my youth standing up and repeating the Pledge of Allegiance everyday before classes began, my hand over my heart, combining my love of my country with my love of God. But as a frequent sinner (you know, since rock ‘n’ roll is a sin and all. As is cursing, getting drunk and sex before marriage… but hey, who’s counting?) my Catholic guilt likes to come out and play pretty often, and it’s something that Lana’s image, music, and ultimately, her sex appeal, target directly. She has the image of the beautiful, promiscuous woman; the words of the lost, yet free-spirited youth; the sex appeal American dreams are made of. Lana is our Mary Magdalene, and with a Jesus seemingly out of the picture, Hollywood is her Calvary.
As her song “Body Electric” opens the 30-minute short film of “Tropico,” I am instantly hit with a dream-like visual mix of everything I know—everything I’ve been taught inside and outside of school by my parents and peers, my teachers and nuns. The “good” mixed with the ‘bad”; the truth as I know it and and the fiction I’ve been told to believe. The tarnished reputations of our American icons, the mystical unicorns we all wish weren’t just in our fairytales, the Jesus’ and Marys, the Adams and Eves. I let my eyes and ears bite into the forbidden fruit and soak up all of it’s juices. For just a minute, everything’s perfect.
Then snap! “Gods & Monsters” begins as does free will. Are the people I once spoke of gods or are they monsters? For each of us must choose our path. And all at once I become a part of the downfall of my choice to choose. My choice for freedom. I gave away Paradise for the nitty streets and the gritty bars. I chose to let pure evil slither into my veins, to dip my toes in it’s reflective water just to see how it feels. And it feels so, so good. But for how long? Soon I’ll need more. We’ll all need more.
And now our bodies are suddenly bruising. You can watch them become beaten and battered by the world we thought we wanted. The greener grass is no longer—it’s yellow and brittle. It’s full of patches. These patches are the holes in our society, the wars inside our minds, the aches inside our hearts, the craving for the past and the peace it once held.
Me and God we don’t get along so now I sing..
No one’s gonna take my soul away.
I’m living like Jim Morrison
Headed towards a fucked up holiday…
She then speaks—her voice like a battered angel, once who has fallen down and yet somehow made it out—and she speaks the truth. And it’s not until I look up to listen that I realize how deep we’ve fallen down the hole. She’s saying what we’re all seeing, feeling, doing, becoming. She’s capturing our present and what we are headed to become: monsters. The ones we swore we’d never be; the ones we were above.
But darling, free will is innocence lost. And there’s only one way to get it back…
“Bel Air” starts to play, and the world starts to spin again. To wash away our sins, to cleanse our souls, to put the pieces of our broken lives back together without shame. To become whole again, to shine, to come full circle. To pledge our allegiance to our God and to our country. To hold our hearts in our hands and offer it up as forgiveness. And with this, Lana’s video is complete but the circle she speaks of lives on.
“Tropico” is a beautifully and brutally honest story. It’s walking the boundaries of this world, the blurred lines of your mind. How much do you actually want from this world, and how much are you willing to sacrifice for it? And when you loose control, where will you turn? And who will answer? In the end there’s no gods and no monsters. There’s only you and the life you choose to live. And Lana Del Rey videos.