Lana Del Rey is notorious for releasing music videos that find the beauty in the darkest places. Whether it’s death, addiction, or motorcycle gangs, the American singer has become synonymous for her dreamlike videos that glamorize the unglamorous. For her latest release Freak, Lana Del Ray is exploring the Jonestown cult.
The American cult, based in Guyana, made worldwide headlines in 1978 when 900 people were found dead from an apparent mass suicide. The gruesome act was a result of members, many of whom were forced, drinking cyanide or “Kool-Aid”.
The new video is Del Rey’s latest single from her fourth studio album Honeymoon, which was released September 2015. The video stars folksinger Father John Misty as a cult leader surrounded by the same thin, white, beautiful women that starred in Lana Del Rey’s video for Music to Watch Boys To. Lana also stars in the video and is seen giving Father John Misty drugs and then drinking the infamous Kool-Aid.
When the song ends the video continues for another five minutes as everyone is dressed in all white and swimming in a slow-motion sequence to Debussy’s Claire De Lune in what we assume is Lana Del Rey’s vision for the afterlife for the Jonestown members.
Del Rey isn’t the first artist gain inspiration from the Jim Jones-led cult. In 2011, indie band Cults used actual footage from Jonestown for their music video Go Outside.
Both videos paint the organization in a sunny light, focusing on free love and creative expression. Both could be read as disrespectful to the victims and their families, but another way to look at it is as a reminder that even things that start out with the best of intentions can go horribly awry.
Check out Lana Del Rey’s new video Freak from her 2015 album Honeymoon.