Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Only those who risk going too far, find out how far they can go (Fringe 0305)

The case of madam Courtney Love. If you have not read the extraordinary article about her in "The New York Times", please do so.

I have always been fascinated by this lady. The widow of late Kurt Cobain, singer-songwriter of critically acclaimed "Hole", Golden Globe-nominated actress of "People vs. Larry Flynt" in 1996 and the occasional muse for countless designers, musicians, hipsters and wannabes. It is fair to say, she has had several opportunities over the years; chances that thousands of aspiring artists would kill for. Yet, she can´t quite make it work. wikipedia refers to her as "an occasional actress" and her latest cd, "Nobody´s Daughter" managed to move only  52 000 copies. Albeit it is not the golden era in record sales, but still a long way from what was to be expected.

Her personal problems with drugs and mental disorders are well documented. Recently Love lost custody of her only child, Frances Bean, amidst rumors of mismanaging her daughter´s future inheritance. Courtney is not all quiet about her struggles- the lady tweets alot. I know, because I have had her listed in my Twitter feed, until I could not take the frantically appearing writings that are often impossible to comprehend.

The NY times article starts with Love proudly declaring her new shape, "I am trying to take better care of myself", while attending the screening of a new movie. Later she is found dazed and intoxicated, stumbling naked in the arms of artist Anselm Kiefer. This seems to be the pattern of her life. She gets better and clean, we all cheer- and then comes the inevitable fallout. The cycle has continued since the 90s. Her bizarre episodes entertain us, give us something to ogle and gossip. In this instance, she is the ultimate celebrity for our enjoyment: look at that, money and fame cannot buy happiness.

Courtney´s alleged repeated missteps in clothing choices and plastic surgery are well-documented and pictured. I was somewhat surprised to find out there is an actual website devoted to her whimsically artsy choices:  Some of the images are sad depictions of a  former grunge queen imitating upper middle class chic. If anything, Courtney is never upper middle class. She is a woman, who wears Narciso Rodriguez, rips it off and shouts F U for us to hear. She is like the anti-Madonna, who we follow not due to her fancy clothes, but what she does while wearing them.

"I speak to you as someone who doesn´t want to be perceived as a trainwreck", she declares to the interviewer in her hotel room, where she has been staying since last year. The room is described as messy, filled with clothes, cigarette buts, junk food and prescription bottles.  By her own admission, she is taking antidepressants, which, combined with alcohol, produce the kind of spaced out states she is often written on.

Prozac, depression and antidepressants became all the fashion to have and talk of in the 90s, with the emergence of books such as "Prozac nation" by Elizabeth Wurzel. Suddenly it was cool to be depressed and be taking medication; having mental issues were associated with creativity and brilliance. But the novelty value of being out of balance did not last long; by 2001 and Winona Ryder´s shoplifting incidence the stigma attached to mental problems began to re-emerge. Winona, the other famous dark and moody actress, was once the poster child for glorified angst and anxiety("Heathers", "Reality Bites"). Now, she was just 30 and found with 7 illegal pain killers in her purse, among them Demerol and Oxycodone. (The video is here )
Clearly, Courtney has missed the fashion trend in this instance, if there ever was one.

Yet, she is likable in the way underdogs often are. Her tales of humble beginnings aside due to her mother being an heiress to the Bausch & Lomb fortunes, she is charismatic in a way people with tremendous challenges behind them are. When she is calm and sober, she talks with a magnetic, quick-witted way about her.

As Simone Beauvoir remained to be always known as "that Sartre´s woman", somehow less genius than her lifepartner, the same was (is?) in danger to happen to Love. There can be destinies far more horrific in life than to be branded as "Cobains widow", yet Courtney is fighting it, trying to make something of her own name again and again.  Regardless of the value of her merits, she doesn´t stop inspiring us. One could argue that the whole look and attitude of teen star Taylor Momsen is taken from Love.


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