That’s the daughter of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, Frances Cobain, now 18 years old and posing for a fashion shoot. You can tell by the tattoos and cigarette that she’s already made some bad choices in her young life, but I’m not surprised. Having a drug addict father who committed suicide at 27 and left you with a drug addict mother is not the prescription for a healthy upbringing.
I’m sure that I’ll get flack from Cobain and Love fans for saying that, but it won’t be the first time. When Cobain killed himself in April, 1994, I railed against him the next day on my DC101 morning show. I called his suicide a selfish act lacking in responsibility — leaving behind a one-year-old daughter by putting a shotgun to your chin is narcissistic and deplorable.
Those comments got me called into a meeting with the radio station’s general manager, who lit into me. He said that I was out of line because Cobain was a role model to the station’s target demographic of men 18 to 34, and I had attacked their musical hero. I rebutted that Cobain may have created some music they enjoyed and been one of the progenitors of the grunge movement, but there was nothing heroic about his actions the day before.
The GM demanded that I apologize to the audience. I refused, arguing that if our listeners really looked up to Cobain, they might think that suicide was a good way out of their difficult lives, too, and it was important to say that it wasn’t. Today, Dan Savage is trying to sell that same message with his “It Gets Better” project.
What I did the next day was tell this story on the air and open the phones to comments. Sure enough, quite a few Nirvana fans raked me over the coals. But an equal number of listeners agreed with me and appreciated the message. They understood that I wasn’t attacking the man’s music, just the choice he’d made two days earlier.
I knew no one on that station, nor elsewhere in the media, would say these sort of things. Instead, they’d all mourn the loss of another “rock god” (as the modern media did recently with Amy Winehouse, and earlier outlets did with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon, John Bonham, and others). They’d gloss over the ugly parts of the story — to use the title of a Nirvana album, they would “Nevermind” — and portray Cobain as a genius sadly lost through no fault of his own.
It was bullshit then and it’s bullshit now. Got that, Frances?