Ex-wife of the late Kurt Cobain Courtney Love (don't mention the elephant in the room) is in modern times an inherently polarizing figure, eminating from the 90s grunge scene with a cavalier attitude to the world and those around her. Saturday saw the Courtney once again court her position as 'the most controversial woman in music history' by going topless on stage whilst lambasting a fan holding aloft a photo of Mr. Cobain. From reactions to the incident along with past happenings, the question appears to be whether her antics are a form of rock and roll or the sickophantic actions of a has been?
The first thing to take into account when analysing the behaviour of Courtney is her past, which by many regards is extremely troublesome. As a child she was in and out of foster homes, was arrested for a variety of offences where once enrolled in youth correctional activities was noted to have remarkable intellectual abilities. At the age of 16 she found herself in Portland where she was raised by hippy friends and drag queens whilst working as an exotic dancer. "Kinderwhore" is the name of the smeared lipstick/china doll image exhibited by the star and with such a tumultuous history it's easy to see why. Additionally it's point to note that her attitude to flaunting the human body is something birthed out of her time spenty within such sleazy surroundings. To emerge so proud following is an undeniable statement of feminine power, manifested by the occasional flash of a breast here and there.
Following a brief stint as the singer for Faith No More, Courtney formed her own band whilst shortly after meeting Kurt Cobain at the Satyricon nightclub where Nirvana were playing a show. Shortly after a fiery drug fuelled relationship ensued that made history and like any true loving relationship was bench marked by incessant bust-ups and make-ups. In 1994 Kurt tragically comitted suicide, a chain of events that would catapult Courtney to an unwanted associated notoriety through which she was called a "groupie", a conspirator in his death alongside a slew of inflammatory accusations relating to her private life. Nirvana fans even went so far as to throw shotgun shells at the singer on stage, enough to drive the most grief stricken of mourners into one hell of a downward spiral.
And spiral she did, balancing her lucrative career with Hole alongside a car-crash drug habit that it is speculated came to a head on her notorious appearance on the David Letterman show were she once again bore her lady lumps. Recovery followed years later with Hole reforming in 2009 for the release of the 'Nobody's Daughter' album which documented in detail her collsion with the bottom following 2003.
The album received on majority positive reviews, yet it appears in many terms Courtney is a figure who has never been solely orientated around music. She never wanted to be a singer, instead finding herself catapulted into the position aloft her feminist neo punk attitude. In many terms living is what Courtney is all about, the music merely marks her progression along the way. It is in her live show that Courtney comes alive as a person exhibiting a combination of performance that is part eulogy and part therapy for all the difficult encounters she has overcome throughout her life.
Transparency would perhaps be the best way to describe Ms. Love and in many ways that is a refreshing attitude to adhere to in the days of celebrities saying one thing and doing another like a perverted Jekyll and Hyde. She simply doesn't care what people think of her anymore as she has been called every curse word under the sun yet still has the ability to stand-up to shout back at the world about it. It's one big show for the world that at it's core is inherently personal whilst literally and metaphorically naked for the world to either embrace or disdain; it's your choice. That is undeniably rock and roll edified in feminine terms.
Oh and before anyone chooses to iterate that she lived off the back of Nirvana just remember her debut album 'Pretty On The Inside' sold more copies...