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Lana Del Rey’s ‘Tropico’: Jesus, John Wayne, and a ton of strippers

‘Tropico’ makes up in symbolism what it lacks in plot. 


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw


Apparently determined to outdo Lady Gaga’s habit of making 10-minute music videos, Lana Del Rey’s Tropico clocks in at almost half an hour. Featuring three tracks from her album Born to Die: The Paradise Edition, it makes up in symbolism what it lacks in plot. 

Lana’s brand of whimsical Americana is still going strong, as the self-penned short film opens with Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, and Elvis, all hanging out in the Garden of Eden with a unicorn. In her role as Eve (Adam is played by model Shaun Ross), Lana wears a flower-garland bikini, which pretty much sets the tone for the next 25 minutes of short-shorts, crop tops and underwear. There’s also an extended sequence where she recites Allen Ginsberg’s Howl over a montage of strip clubs, guns and stylish gangster girls blowing cigarette smoke into the breeze. But we wouldn’t want to give you too many spoilers before you watch the actual video.

At least a quarter of Tropico is taken up by Lana pole-dancing mournfully as part of the main “story”: A wistful romance between herself and her gangster Adam in modern-day Los Angeles, culminating in yet more religious imagery. It’s like a cross between Badlands and the classic L.A. magical-realist romance Weetzie Bat, but with more pole dancing. (Possibly too much pole dancing, but who are we to judge the film choices of an artist whose success is mostly thanks to her music videos?)

Tropico may be a big step away from Lana Del Rey’s earlier, more DIY-style videos, but it will certainly give pop critics something to chew on. 

Screengrab via Lana del Rey/Vevo

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