Lana Del Rey is never not on-brand. Any accusation otherwise only reveals the extent to which she’s successfully curated an illusive persona begging for misinterpretation. All of her perceived “misses” in the public eye over the last few years — dressing like she only shops at TJMaxx, the old-timey souvenir-style album cover for Chemtrails Over the Country Club, even dating a cop — have all perfectly aligned with the core reality of who she is: the romantic, poetic equivalent of the girl you went to high school with who never left your hometown. Her latest boyfriend, Jack Donoghue, only extends this narrative further.
Earlier this week, Donoghue, half of witch-house duo Salem, posted two photos of himself and Lana on Instagram outside of Cook County Jail in Illinois with the caption “family visit,” cementing earlier rumors that the two were dating. When the photos hit Twitter, Lana fans were immediately split. Many of those familiar with Donoghue felt they were an ideal match, while others accused him of looking like a January 6th participant.
In reality, with his Illinois T-shirt and carpenter jeans, he looks like any salt-of-the-earth Midwestern white man in his early 30s. While the idea of beautiful women dating “just some guy” has become an obnoxious trope, this is ultimately what Donoghue looks like: just some guy, albeit a hot and large one. You can imagine him in a plethora of American settings: attending the methadone clinic, constructing a deck, walking along the side of a sprawling suburban strip mall, buying a pack of Camels, waiting in line at Dunkin’ or, obviously, visiting a family member in county jail. He only looks like someone who might have been involved in the insurrection to the extent that those who actually participated look like much of the rest of the country.
Of course, Donoghue has his own history behind him. Among witch house listeners he’s something of a legend, and he previously dated Courtney Love. Several photos of him making out with men, one of whom may be his cousin, as well as him touching tongues with a dog, just sit casually on his Instagram alongside a few gun pics and candids with Julia Fox. For all intents and purposes, then, he is not at all “just some guy,” but the exact type of scene-embedded alternative weirdo we’d expect an artist like Lana to be with.
And yet, there’s seemingly an expectation from fans that someone with her celebrity status ought to date some sort of wealthy European aristocrat, one who can clothe her in linen and sail her along the coast of southern France. But doesn’t that actually feel kind of… boring? Sure, it sounds gorgeous, but drinking a pile of Bud Lights and shooting guns, as Donoghue’s Instagram suggests he does, has a little more thrill to it. And frankly, it’s far closer to the all-American everygirl reality that Lana portrays, whether it’s genuine or not.
Together, Lana and Jack look precisely like a couple of young parents you might see at any Walmart in the contiguous U.S. Being famous and presumably wealthy means that this is unlikely to be their reality, and surely, some poverty cosplaying is involved here. Regardless, Donoghue aesthetically embodies a sense of contemporary Americana, one that has lost the stars in its eyes and replaced them with a chaotic grit and messiness. Isn’t that exactly the type of man who Lana has always sung about?