Kurt Cobain died five months ago today. The death of the multiplatinum rock star impacted my life so heavily that one week after his suicide was confirmed, I was wondering why this paper was still talking about it.
And the space we spent discussing Cobain, on our editorial page and through letters to the editor, was not uncommon. Every publication was talking about the suicide, and everybody found a different angle on it.People were sad, angry, depressed, betrayed.Others were outraged at the hype itself.It's as silly now as it was then.
Yet it continues. Last week the Gallagher Theater hosted a poster sale, as it does every semester. However, this time, accompanying oversize posters of Bono, and overexposed prints of Dali, was the frontispiece of the display: a huge blow up of Cobain's makeup-enhanced, crybaby, oh-so-sad-face.
It seems there are an amazing number of black and white close up photos of Cobain's face these days, each sad enough to evoke heart-wrenching sympathy from the viewer. These photos have adorned Spin Magazine and Rolling Stone simultaneously, and now the Gallagher Theater.
Five months later, America's youth is still obsessed with the suicide of the lead singer of Nirvana. The most recent issue of Spin Magazine devotes its entire "Letters to the Editor" section, 3 pages, to letters received from Cobain's fans. The letters Ä and what kind of people write to magazines to discuss the death of someone they didn't know? Ä were, of course, pathetic. My favorite line, copped from an especially anguished teen, ended with the proclamation "On April 8, 1994, my youth left me."
Obviously I've missed something.
The main impetus behind Cobain's suicide, apparently, was his inability to handle his growing fame. What better tribute to his suicide, then, than to plaster his sad face on magazine covers. The terribly overwrought fans that Kurt left behind seem oblivious to the reasoning that perhaps Cobain killed himself because of them. Maybe he didn't want to be responsible for someone else's "youth."
In spite of Cobain's insistence that he wasn't anything of the sort, he has now been recognized by the media as a legend. Perhaps this is the most frustrating aspect of Cobain's mystique. After four albums, what had Kurt Cobain really accomplished? If Kurt is responsible for anything, it's for breaking "alternative" music into the MTV mainstream audience. I, for one, don't thinks this is that great of an accomplishment. If I were responsible for setting up the success of Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots, I would ponder suicide as well.
I don't think anybody forced Cobain and his band to sign with a major label, make videos for MTV, appear on the covers of magazines, or perform on the final frontier of music commercialism.MTV Unplugged. For someone haunted by success, Kurt Cobain certainly knew how to perpetuate it.
To criticize Cobain for this hypocrisy, however, is as pointless as the arguments from those who criticize him for offing himself and leaving a baby daughter in his wake. He's dead, and the best thing anybody can do is to forget it. If you "care" enough about Kurt Cobain, then let him die as a person.
Maybe the whole issue is tied up in the media and the sports figures, music stars, and film celebrities that it pays too much attention to. Certainly the media created an event out of Cobain's death just as MTV created someone that millions of teenagers felt they knew, but his suicide should have told the media and his fans that he was nothing more than just a guitar player, and that he wanted to be left alone.
Noah Lopez is currently writing "American Pie Revisited," a touching song about Cobain's death Ä that is, when he isn't tied up with commitments as the Wildcat's Music Editor.
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