Lana Del Rey's been dating Sean Larkin for at least a few months now, and as of this week the two have gone Instagram official.
Larkin is a cop based in Tulsa who stars on the show PD Cam and works as an analyst for the series Live PD. Naturally, some fans have taken issues with Larkin's profession. Much of Del Rey's fanbase is comprised of people who understand that there's a huge problem with police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and systemic racism in this country.
When asked whether she was worried about the public's response to Larkin's career choice, Del Rey said, "Well, the thing is, he's a good cop. He gets it. He sees both sides of things."
But which "both sides of things" are we talking about? Are these the "both sides" that Donald Trump saw in the fine people in Charlottesville? Are these the "both sides" that Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden supporters are reaching out to and that Hillary Clinton allegedly appealed to? It would be nice to think that Del Rey was just referring to the "both sides" that Joni Mitchell has seen now, but as many of us know, there is no such thing as neutrality in a system built on oppression, and that wide-eyed centrist apolitical idealism very often hides apathy, which is essentially taking the side of the oppressor.
All that said, it would be tempting to think that Larkin may be aware of at least some of this, but that seems...doubtful. Apparently Larkin is very invested in defending his profession and exonerating his fellow policemen, and he's even working on a book about officers who were "falsely accused of misconduct or criminal activity."
All of Sean Larkin's actions reveal that he's probably very proud of being a police officer and has no interest in addressing the profession's racist, violent DNA. If being a cop wasn't enough, Larkin is literally the star of a cop reality TV show, which Vulture described as "the distillation of a toxic combination of corporate interest and state propaganda." Criticisms of Live PD and its forefather Cops have often noted that these live cop shows target (and sensationalize the punishment of) poor people, people of color, and people with mental health issues, among other vulnerable groups. These are of course the same groups that wind up in prisons, stuck in self-fulfilling prophecies of suffering, and televising their crimes helps absolutely no one.
Some people have argued that live cop cam TV shows help hold the police accountable, but thus far this has not been the case. Since it began, Live PD has faced much negative press, including two lawsuits for police brutality, and one of its officers has been arrested for domestic violence—and it's hard to say how many cases have been swept under the rug, simply because the people that the police tend to victimize often don't have the ability to fight for their rights. According to The Appeal, "Police may like the ride-along TV arrangement, but they, and the city councils that ostensibly regulate them, work for residents, up to and including the disproportionately poor who are used by these programs as cheap entertainment fodder––to say nothing of the families of those whose murders and rapes are used to titillate the viewing public."
Remember that earlier this month, George Zimmerman—who literally killed Trayvon Martin—was not only exonerated. He is now suing Martin's family for over $100 million. Remember that in 2018, 1,164 civilians were killed by police; meanwhile, as police brutality continues, convictions for officers have plummeted by over 90%, with only 2% of officers who killed civilians that year facing criminal action. Meanwhile, though they make up 37% of the United States population, racial minorities made up 68% of people killed by the police in 2018, according to Vox. In 2019, the Los Angeles Post reported that 1 in 1,000 young black men can expect to die at the hands of police. The statistics go on and on.
In light of all this, Sean Larkin is calling himself a "full-time popo" and has decided that now is definitely the time to write a book about police officers who were falsely accused of misconduct or criminal activity. This is partly why it's disappointing to many fans that Lana Del Rey has chosen to date a cop without at least saying something in support of Black Lives Matter or showing some awareness of the implications of her new relationship. (There's also the fact that prisons in America are veritable hellscapes and mass incarceration is, as Michelle Alexander writes, "a massive system of racial and social control").
As a longtime Lana Del Rey fan, it does pain me to write this article. Then again, what did we expect? Though she is undeniably super-talented, Lana has never been exactly "woke" or far-left. She's open about this, calling herself a "simple singer" in defense of her decision to perform in Israel/Palestine (against the advice of the more anti-Palestine Roger Waters) and writing songs with titles like, "When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing."
Still, it's easy to see radical and visionary themes in her music and persona, especially after she came out strongly against Donald Trump wrote an entire song about ending gun violence (see: "Looking for America")—but she's never been entirely politically correct. Her music exists in a dream space outside of reality, in a world of all-consuming love and Americana illusions and, yes, a lot of very bad men with guns.