(Note: This entry was made when this blog was something different. I'm keeping it because the subject matter suits the new direction, but please bear in mind that the tone may be somewhat . . . different.)
So: Let's all take a minute to pity poor, poor Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Courtney "Look Ma, No Sanity" Love. Because a terrible, horrible, ugly, nasty, immoral thing has been done to them by a soulless corporate entity. It's shocking and cruel. It's dastardly and snidely and possibly even whiplash, too.
But Jay, I hear you asking, what on Earth could be so awful? What could be so dreadful and unpleasant that it would shake these highly accomplished and formerly-popular musicians and aggrieve them so?
Well, it's like this: Kurt Cobain is an unlockable character on Guitar Hero 5.
I know! Isn't that just the worst thing you've ever heard? Kurt must just be beside himself about it!
. . . oh wait, that's right. He's dead, and therefore is incapable of giving a shit. So it is up to his surviving bandmates and his drunken crackhead shrew of a wife to speak up about it and make the world's--well, Kurt's--well, their--displeasure known.
"This is a statement regarding Nirvana, Guitar Hero and the likeness of the late Kurt Cobain," Grohl and Novoselic said in a statement released yesterday to an entire planet of Nirvana fans that were holding their collective breath--at least, that is, until they let their collective bong hits back out. "We want people to know that we are dismayed and very disappointed in the way a facsimile of Kurt is used in the Guitar Hero game. The name and likeness of Kurt Cobain are the sole property of his estate - we have no control whatsoever in that area.
"While we were aware of Kurt's image being used with two Nirvana songs, we didn't know players have the ability to unlock the character. This feature allows the character to be used with any kind of song the player wants. We urge Activision to do the right thing in 're-locking' Kurt's character so that this won't continue in the future.
"It's hard to watch an image of Kurt pantomiming other artists' music alongside cartoon characters. Kurt Cobain wrote songs that hold a lot of meaning to people all over the world. We feel he deserves better."
So, let's get this straight, guys. You have no control over the way Cobain's name and likeness are used. Yet somehow you have the unmitigated frost-coated stones of steel to tell Activision what to do with them just the same? That's just the funniest damn example of self-importance I've seen since Kurt ate the shotgun and actually expected people to give a shriveled shit about his poor, poor 'iddle self.
I'll get back to this delightfully stupid press release in a second, but first it behooves us to take a moment and have a word with the person who does actually have control over how Kurt Cobain's name and likeness are used--Ms. Courtney Love Cobain, late of the band Hole and an acting career that consisted of exactly one decent role. Surely Courtey will have a measured and sober take on this. Let's check her statements on Twitter, shall we?
-- "and you wonder about Guitar Hero 5 disgusted? welcome to my NIGHTMARE. yeah well sue activision this is disgusting, but theres alot MORE"
-- "and yes this is a clear and linear line to Guitar Hero 5 outragous violationa nd breach o contract it makes you feel smug to say ESTATE"
-- "i will KNIFE one of those motherfuckers, KArsh is in NYC and i want to kick in his door hes been in cahoots and using Kurts estate since he"
-- "i have fifty four FORGED POWERS OF ATTORNEY
-- "YOU for dismissing me as a LOON, go fucking play guitar hero commit necrophilai KNOW you are raping me and my family mother in law child"
-- "we have NOTHING to do with this it was presented to me and oi said "show me a better avataR" TO DRAG MY HEELS., never did i intend on allowi"
-- "allowing GUITARHERO for me or for Kurt i am NOT yoko fucking Ono no ofense to her, but i am a different person entirely and this is insane"
Well. That certainly clears that up. Thanks Courtney!
(In the interest of full disclosure, I did try to speak to Courtney directly to get a more coherent statement about all this. But when she answered the phone all she did was scream "MOTHERFUCKER" at me for five minutes, then dropped the phone. At this point I heard glass breaking, and after that a sound not unlike the mating call of a syphilitic moose being rogered with an air raid siren. I assumed she was rehearsing songs for her next album, and let her get back to her valuable work.)
Apparently the actual story behind Kurt's likeness is: Activision acquired from Kurt's survivors the rights to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Lithium" for Guitar Hero 5, and specifically asked Courtney for the rights to use Kurt's likeness as an avatar in the game. Being a bunch of money-grubbing materialists like everyone else in America these days, they all agreed. Except now Courtney is saying she didn't, and is apparently making sure everyone in the Tweeterverse knows it, or at least is making sure that they would know it if anyone could actually understand her semi-coherent, incoherent, and downright fucking hilariously mushmouthed statements. And how it's possible to be mushmouthed while typing on a keyboard I have no idea, but Courtney manages.
The wrinkle: Activision has replied--notably to the Foo Fighters' publicist, and apparently not to Courtney--with the following statement: "Guitar Hero secured the necessary licensing rights from the Cobain estate in a written agreement signed by Courtney Love to use Kurt Cobain's likeness as a fully playable character in Guitar Hero® 5."
Whoopsie. Sounds like they have you and your fifty four FORGED POWERS OF ATTORNEY there, Courtney.
But let us leave Ms. Love-Cobain to her Twittering, her drunken stupor, and her air raid siren, and turn our attention back to Mr. Grohl, Mr. Novoselic, and their hilariously puffed-up piece of posturing.
First of all, let's have a look at this statement: "Kurt Cobain wrote songs that hold a lot of meaning to people all over the world."
Yes, yes indeed he did. Songs like "Territorial Pissings," "tourette's" "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle," and the ever popular toe-tapper, "Rape Me." Why, that's worthy of Bob Dylan, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin, that is.
The other hysterical statement is this: "It's hard to watch an image of Kurt pantomiming other artists' music alongside cartoon characters."
Okay, now really: have you ever seen The Foo Fighters' "Everlong" video? And you're complaining about cartoon characters, Dave? Seriously? All righty then. Not to mention that Kurt was more than happy to play other artists' music when he was alive (cf. the MTV "Unplugged" episode which is half cover songs). But don't let all this get in the way of you blowing this shit waaaaaaay the hell out of proportion. I'm sure Dave's gigantic hand got all riled up and he's just trying to placate it.
Oh, and then there's this:
Cartoon characters, my ass. Kurt was a cartoon character, and became more and more of one the bigger his career got. That was part of the reason he killed himself, wasn't it?
Then there's the hypocrisy of all this. Everyone involved in this on the Nirvana side of things is acting as if it's somehow a betrayal of Cobain's image and legacy to have him in the game. But you know what? We're talking about a guy who appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with a homemade t-shirt that read "CORPORATE MAGAZINES STILL SUCK"--completely ignoring the fact that he was at that point a major earner on a major label getting major radio play, and that was why Rolling Stone wanted him in the first place. Yeah, Kurt was just totally anti-corporate . . . when it suited him to be seen as such, when it would further the poor-little-indie-boy image he worked so hard to maintain, and which ended up eating him alive when he began to believe it a little too hard himself.
Face facts: Kurt was a corporate whore, as much as he tried to pretend he wasn't. Otherwise he wouldn't have signed off on plastering his oh-so-tortured phiz all over MTV, Rolling Stone, Spin, posters, t-shirts, music videos, and on and on and on and on, world without end, hummina hummina huzzah huzzah, what do you think of your blueeyed boy now, Mister Death?
So for these fatheads to pretend such pained outrage that the guy who made them rich is somehow being desecrated by his image being made to play songs by Eagles of Death Metal, Queens of the Stone Age, Iggy Pop, Sonic Youth, Queen and David Bowie . . . .
Hey, Wait a minute. Isn't Queens of the Stone Age a Dave Grohl side project? And weren't Nirvana and Sonic Youth big buddies who used to tour together? And isn't Dave Grohl a huge fan of Queen, and in fact inducted them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? And didn't Nirvana cover a David Bowie song during the "Unplugged" set? Yet these are all cartoon characters now. Hm. Interesting.
You see how ridiculous this all is, and how much posturing is involved. What it boils down to is the money. Right now, all the parties on the Nirvana side are feeling that they aren't being paid enough for this, and that they should maybe get a little stipend since the little electronic version of their very first meal ticket is being made to do some extra work. That way, Courtney Love can continue to be the crackiest crackhead who ever cracked a crack with her cracked head:
. . . And Krist Novoselic can continue to flirt with a political career, while slowly transforming into Merlin Olson:
. . . and Dave Grohl can continue his dual quest of performing on every album by every band currently in existence, and slowly transforming into 1970s-era Bob Seger:
. . . and maybe, just maybe, Kurt will finally be allowed to rest in peace without all these goddamn vultures picking at the ragged bones of his once-glorious corpse.