Throwback Thursday: Courtney Love

Aaaaaahhhhhh, Courtney Love–the train wreck we love to hate but secretly hope never fades from the limelight permanently. Let’s be honest: people like Courtney Love serve a vital purpose within our society as benchmarks for our self-esteem barometer. Loves the world over are a means to gauge how we’re doing on a personal level, a way to compare ourselves to the “rich and famous” and say, “At least I didn’t fall off a barstool and flash my southernmost private parts to the entire MTV audience, crew, and a music icon.” This is the same reason an old roommate of mine would watch the show 16 and Pregnant when she was depressed: no matter how bad her day was, at least she wasn’t sixteen…and pregnant.

I have a soft-spot for Ms. Love, forever the former Mrs. Cobain, because she was omnipresent during my formative listening years; this means I had no choice but to like her (the proverbial cop-out). Her hot-messness aside, she musically explores what it means to be a woman in the world and this feminist angle hasn’t been adequately explored because she often gets in her own way. Okay, she ALWAYS gets in her own way but hear me out on this tangent. Take, for example, the song “Doll Parts” from Hole’s album Live Through This, released in 1994, in which Love discusses society’s perception of women as playthings (dolls), how it forces women to regress into infantile desires (for cake) to get attention and the effect of this dynamic (turning women fake, making them ache). She’s pissed, and wants you to ache like she aches:

“I am doll eyes
Doll mouth, doll legs
I am doll arms, big veins, dog bait
Yeah, they really want you, they really want you, they really do
Yeah, they really want you, they really want you, but I do too
I want to be the girl with the most cake
I love him so much it just turns to hate
I fake it so real, I am beyond fake
And someday, you will ache like I ache
Someday, you will ache like I ache

I am doll parts
Bad skin, doll heart
It stands for knife
For the rest of my life
Yeah, they really want you, they really want you, they really do
Yeah, they really want you, they really want you, but I do, too
I want to be the girl with the most cake
He only loves those things because he loves to see them break
I fake it so real, I am beyond fake
And someday, you will ache like I ache
Someday you will ache like I ache”

In 1998, Love  released what I believe to be her second best album to Live Through This which is Celebrity Skin. On the title track of this album she refers to herself as a “walking study in demonology”–an admission that she is routinely vilified in the press, and rightfully so as her behavior is erratic and often violent. (For more enlightenment on this facet of Courtney, I recommend watching Kurt & Courtney from BBC documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield). However, she is singled-out as particularly heinous where the same type of behavior from her male counterparts are often begrudgingly accepted as part of the rock and roll effect. That makes Courtney Love a fascinating specimen in our search to understand the perception of women in our current culture, particularly because she is so self-aware and open if not tragically unwilling to clean up her act. But should she have to? That is the question.

Now, I am in no way (I repeat: I AM NOT) advocating Love as the pinnacle of feminist mystique, but I do commend her on the courage it takes to be Courtney Love in all her grotesque glory; she is nothing if not consistent. From Hole’s video for “Violet” (featured above) where you can clearly see Kurt’s influence and understand his fascination with her to the video for “Celebrity Skin” (seen below) which showcases her attempt to professionally rebirth herself as the movie star rocker chick, Courtney Love lives her life on a public stage and forces us to confront her and what she represents. Whatever your feelings are about this, you can explore them in the flesh when she plays The Independent here in San Francisco tonight. A truly a throwback Thursday if there ever was one.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s