Lana del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” Video Revealed, Features Lesbians Being Sad

I know that I am probably the last queer in queerdom to still be obsessed with this lady, but I love Lana del Rey. When I heard that her video for “Summertime Sadness” was lesbian-themed, my hopes were high. I’ve been let down by Lana del Rey’s Potential Lesbianism before, and I didn’t think I could take another blow. Remember when we though she made out with Jennifer Lawrence but it was actually her sister? This is why we can’t have nice things.

Since Official Camp Lana del Rey is saying that yes, this is a video where Lana has a girlfriend, played by Jaime King, and they kill themselves, I’m trying really, really hard to see the homo here. I guess we are supposed to infer that smoke machines + gazing at each other and crying = lesbianism? Spoiler alert: there is no gay lady kissing, sorry. There is very brief blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hugging. Why are they killing themselves? Beats me.

lips don’t lie

LDR’s songs usually play on a few key themes: Nabokov’s Lolita and nascent sexuality, nostalgia and Americana, and the construction of girlhood/femininity. These all wrap up into the very artificial and very manufactured version of Lana del Rey that we see in her music, her style, her videos, etc. There is almost nothing real about her as a person, which is part of the reason she is at once fascinating and repulsive to most critics. And it’s very important that we acknowledge she is a symbol rather than a musician when thinking about the themes she uses in her videos. In “National Anthem,” she was simultaneously Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, the penultimate women of Americana, two sides of the same coin. (The Playtex bra ads on Mad Men, anyone?) In “Born To Die,” she’s stripped nude before the American flag. She’s also in a massive church, crowned like the Virgin Mary and sitting on a throne where the altar should be. She wears a lot of white in all of her videos, which I’ve always interpreted as a nod to innocence.

It turns out that the latest video is an almost literal representation of the lyrics, with the narrator driving with her lover by her “heavenly side” and then “dying happy”. In “Summertime Sadness,” Lana stretches her arms out only moments after we’ve seen a statue of Jesus crucified in the same position, and then jumps to her death. Jaime similarly throws herself from a bridge, and in between these scenes are flashes of scratchy home videos where they cuddle, make faces, and smile into the camera. These are interspersed with the warm-hued smoke machine scenes, which mostly feature them on their own, looking angsty as fog rolls around them. When Lana appears in the car with Jaime, it seems to be after she’s already committed suicide, haunting her lover (or maybe their love exists in a queer temporality? let’s get busy digging into this, english majors!). Is Jaime killing herself because she cannot bear to live without Lana? Did Lana kill herself because she ran out of hairspray? To answer these questions, I could write about ten more pages and then hand it in for credit in one of my queer theory classes, but I suggest you watch it for yourself.

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Full-time writer, part-time lover, freelancing in fancy cheese and cider.

Kate has written 130 articles for us.


  1. 99% of fictional lesbians kill themselves. maybe we need to have some kind of rally. or a feelings workshop?

    • If there’s a fictional lesbian in something (anything), and she doesn’t end up killing herself, I get really angry and scream ‘UNREALISTIC’ for at least a couple of hours.

      That is to say: Sign me up for the feelings workshop. Thx.

        • I hope the workshop lets us tackle puzzling scenarios like that one. If not, I’ll probably get angry and scream something for some hours (I’m a very well-adjusted individual).

  2. so what you’re saying is that ldr is basically michael field. i can roll with that. does she write odes to her pets?

    • if this song had come out during “lesbian immortal,” probably would have tried to fit it into my final paper, not gonna lie

  3. I’m gonna say something. Maybe I don’t appreciate art, or whatever, but just because you can make something look ‘artsy’ by shittily exposing film DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD.

    I kinda hate that redness in the top left corner. For me it feels like jeans that you buy with holes already in them. Let things age on their own!

    also overall the video was just too flickery, and not enough boobs.

    • i feel like i could describe a lot of things in life like that. “just too flickery, and not enough boobs.”

    • All I can think of when I see this style of video/over the top ~symbolism~/ anything Instagrammy is that our potential children will find this decade just as, if not more so, ridiculous than we find the 80’s.
      “So, Moms, according to my research in 2012 you stood around with windswept hair and smoke while clutching the hem of your eyelet bubble dress? And then afterwards took a photo of your dinner with a filter that looked like expired film? WHY?”

    • It reminded me of my film school projects. So bad!. Oddly enough, I had sad lesbians in it too. The quality of this one is so 1990’s. On another note, I have summertime sadness for no reason. Time to go listen to something upbeat.

    • here are my feels on this matter: i think lana or lana’s publicity people or whoever is doing the main manufacturing of the symbol that is lana del rey have picked up on the fact that ours is a generation OBSESSED WITH and FUELED BY nostalgia. we are a generation that takes a lot of photos with our webcam and then tries to make them look like they were taken with a brownie camera in 1966. we are obsessed with our childhood memories and the things that were special to us in the nineties, and thus we ROMANTICIZE and FETISHIZE the past, and thus we do the same thing to our sense of youth. technology has become the age divider and the fact that we can capture all of these moments and upload them to facebook actually preserves our youth because we are demonstrated that we are young enough to know how all of these things work, and yet simultaneously longing for the past.

      we are a navel-gazing instragramming society that loves loves loves and fetishizes nostalgia, and this is both a good and a bad thing, and i think lana throws it right back to us the same way we would make a video if we as a generation were making a video, and i think people dislike her and maybe are not down with her because it is *exactly* what we do. we put on a lot of hazy filters and expose the shit out of our iphone photos, and then we reblog a picture of the power rangers, or a dress from the sixties, or a girl in heart sunglasses.

      is it kind of irritating after a while? oh absolutely. but in some sense, i feel like that’s the point. it’s as grating in her videos as it is in our society.

      if i could go back and write a thesis on lana, i would

  4. Lana is a guilty pleasure of mine.

    However, will someone please tell young straight female singers to stop using same-sex attraction as a gimmick? There are real people with this sexuality, it’s not something they should use for shock value.

    Because apparently no one considered this the first 489767 times a musician put girl-on-girl action in a music video.

  5. Someone should have clued her in that lesbians do not wear those nails.
    Perhaps your lover was just too distraught after experiencing your claws, Lana!

  6. I have to say I think we’re going to see some really interesting stuff from Lana Del Rey in the future. I think she’s really tapped into the paradoxes and pressures that are upon femininity and girls in a way I haven’t really seen done before. I mean Rookie magazine tries to (also uses so much instagram) but frankly I find that whole website irritating.

  7. Riding in a car.
    Falling off cliffs.
    Two female protagonists who are clearly together despite the fact that they are never shown kissing.

    Anyone else think she copied Thelma and Louise?

  8. Wow…all I can actually think while watching this video is “apparitional lesbians.” Especially that last shot.

  9. i think it’s good that they didn’t kiss. it makes it seem less like a gimic even though it might be. its not promising hot girls making out. it came over for me in a kind of why not be two girls instead of a girl and a guy way. which is good. but yes instagram bad. and worse than that romanticising suicide for young kids is weird and dangerous.

    • completely agree with the romanticizing part. i think that’s done a lot in movies and music videos. i find it very odd.

    • I agree also about the scary romanticizing suicide part, and that’s definitely Lana’s thing (as I deduced after stalking her twitter account for about a half hour). She seems really obsessed/interested with the intersection of love and death/loss/suicide which is pretty interesting but also scary if it becomes a mainstream romanticism thing?

      But I guess Shakespeare did it too, so who am I to judge..

  10. I was expecting to be all >:( because suicidal lesbians really all the time?, but I felt surprisingly unbothered by this video. As much as it’s still sort of gimmicky, it never seems like the characters died because theirs was a love that could never be. In fact, they never show any struggle for them as (living) women in love. That makes the first suicide inexplicable and maybe narratively lazy, but it also seemed like a queer woman character could have any number of reasons for committing suicide totally unrelated to her sexual identity. This is definitely an overly analytical take on a five minute music video, but I have to think in some ways that’s a yay for popular culture taking steps in the right direction.

  11. I love me some Lana Del Rey. Don’t care if she’s a product of her father’s money, her music is still intriguing to me. Btw Kate, are you that girl from the youtube Shit Queer Girls Say video? lol

  12. Google makes this sound like a bunch of bros, but this thread is way better than that and the reverse discourse doesn’t even affect it one tiny bit! You guys are awesome.

  13. “I’m trying really, really hard to see the homo here. I guess we are supposed to infer that smoke machines + gazing at each other and crying = lesbianism”

    Yes it’s so hard to recognize the love if they’re not naked or kissing. Sigh… Why is this so important?? I think the video is beautiful and I’m glad they didn’t do anything graphic.

    Love me some LDR.

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