Sound Off: ‘Ultraviolent’ Lana Del Rey footage serves no purpose

By Managing Editor

Lana Del Rey and Marilyn Manson fans were taken by surprise on Nov. 19 after a disturbing video featuring the artists leaked online. 

The video, directed by “Hostel” filmmaker Eli Roth, depicted a series of horrific scenes alluding to violence.

The most alarming scene was a simulated rape of Lana by Roth, who is shown pressing her head down into a pillow and ends after he walks out of sight, cutting to a shot of the singer’s tear-stained face. 

In an Oct. 30, 2013, interview with Larry King, Roth said he had shot a video of the singers but decided to shelve it because of its disturbing, graphic nature. 

“The footage is so sick, it’s been locked in a vault for over a year,” Roth told King in the interview. 

Rumors initially flooded the Internet suggesting that the graphic footage was meant to be used in a music video for either Manson or Lana.

However, a representative for Manson denied his involvement in the scenes with Lana, according to a Nov. 20 Pitchfork report. 

While Manson and Lana are both featured in the video, they are never shown together in the same scene, so Manson should be able to distance himself from the distasteful portion if he wants to. 

He may not even have been aware of her troubling scene and has received enough criticism over the years for his dark music and videos to reasonably want to dissociate from something that was not actually part of his vision. 

Although the intended purpose for the alarming footage remains unknown, the thought process behind it is even more of a mystery.

Violent scenes can at times add to a story’s plot, but this particular sexual assault scene had no context and seemed entirely gratuitous. 

The majority of the video depicts or alludes to acts of violence, but the too-real sexual assault scene feels as if it were made to be disturbing simply for the sake of being disturbing.

In the interview with King, Roth was unable to give a clear answer about whether or not he thought the rape scene added to the horror or value of the video as a whole, further calling into question why either Roth or Lana would be at all interested in acting out such a traumatizing situation. 

“The sexual abuse of women is so horrific,” Roth said in the interview with King. “I mean, ‘Straw Dogs’ is a movie where there’s rape. Does that add to that movie? Yes. But how are you supposed to answer a question like that? It’s crazy.” 

Although Lana tends to flirt with darkness in some of her songs and videos, this is the first time she has crossed the line so severely.

The video might also be more troubling because a listener can tune lyrics out, but a rape scene is not something that can easily be “unseen.” 

The singer’s controversial lyrics, “He hit me and it felt like a kiss,” from the song “Ultraviolence” were jarring when the song dropped in June, and she received criticism for glamorizing domestic abuse.

However, “sparking debate” with this scene is less a statement than a shock tactic. If Lana wants to make a statement about the horror of sexual assault, she should do it more clearly than simply putting it out there for open interpretation.