Glorifying Kurt Cobain’s Death Brings Us No Closer to Understanding His Genius or Illness
It's been 22 years since Kurt Cobain died in his Seattle home. Yet every year, on April 5, it's like he dies again — and the tributes that make the most noise are rarely in good taste.
On March 17, the Seattle Police Department posted never-before-seen pictures of the gun Kurt Cobain used to commit suicide. Their appearance was seemingly random. "Authorities did not specify why they took new pictures of the weapon last year, or why they decided to make them public now," Spin wrote in sharing the pictures.
It does seem very odd — until you realize it's been this way for over two decades.
Whether its a new documentary positioning to finally have found a narrative compelling enough to convince police to re-re-re-open the Cobain case — as Soaked in Bleach presented last year — or an inside source with new evidence that Courtney Love wanted her husband dead, Cobain is somehow perpetually a part of our music news cycle.
His suicide note gets printed up on T-shirts. His unfinished music gets pushed out to the world, for no other reason than fans will buy it. After reading millionth coffee table book claiming to have found the "real" Kurt Cobain, it's clear that many of these works are more interested in twisting the fondness some have for Kurt Cobain's brutally honest storytelling into publicity grabs.
In his life time, one of Cobain's biggest nemeses was the media's fascination with sensationalizing his life and relationships. The recent biopic Montage of Heck included several of Cobain's journal entries, in which he cursed out publications for demonizing him and questioning his ability to be a fit father to his daughter Frances Bean.
Unsurprisingly, Bean is one of the staunchest critics of those looking to glamorize the tragic genius trope archetype Cobain fits so well. In 2014, Bean targeted Lana Del Ray as being one of these. She tore Del Ray apart on Twitter. "The death of young musicians isn't something to romanticize," Bean wrote. "I'll never know my father because he died young, and it becomes a desirable feat because people like you think it's 'cool.' Well, it's fucking not."
Ideally, his suicide wouldn't be glorified. In reality, however, it's something that had a deep impact on people, and is part of his defining legacy now. The best way to honor his wishes and his daughter's seems to be transfer that energy into remembering what was best about his life.
We can celebrate his feminism, his hilarious interviews and Nirvana's deep cuts that have far more replay value than any Boston rip-off. Doing this should finally help grunge's prodigal son find the peace he deserves.