The popular news and review site, known for the doofusy textspeak of its pseudonymous founder Carles and a transparent obsession with its own "relevance," has been a kind of Pitchfork-era update of Beavis and Butt-Head since its inception in 2007. The site's blissfully blinkered worldview is a savvy illustration of today's twentysomething id.
But the subject of Lana Del Rey has apparently sent Carles into a kind of ultra-meta tailspin. Del Rey famously vaulted from near obscurity to the stage of SNL in a matter of months, with only a handful of tracks and a '50s-glam/'90s-gangsta persona. She's maybe the biggest test case of an indie-friendly artist created (and perhaps already destroyed) online without so much as a record to hawk yet. Hipster Runoff fed the meme with revelations that Del Rey was actually Lizzy Grant, a young singer with previous stints as a major-label aspirant pop star.
But in a long, tortured essay, Carles comes to a bleak conclusion that essentially all culture and cultural criticism is a cog in an Internet hype machine whose sole purpose is to self-perpetuate. Money can be made, but it's not the point -- all of art and all of Internet culture is essentially an empty act of "content farming" and self-fabrication (or, as Carles would call it, "personal-brand-building").
Hipster Runoff has renamed itself the "Lana Del Report" and seems to express a genuine sympathy with Del Rey as a product of an esoteric media-industrial complex far bigger than herself. Lately, Carles has been tweeting some uncomfortably earnest cries for help. If you're invested in Web culture, criticism or creating any expression of artistic value, read the missive here.
-- August Brown
Photo: Lana Del Rey performing at the Troubadour in West Hollywood on Dec. 7. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times.