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Metal Mondays: Media have long mistreated Courtney Love

Hole released the 12-track LP “Live Through This” on April 12, 1994. The band’s second album went multi-platinum in December of the same year and is undoubtedly one of the greatest rock albums of all time.

However, just days before the album was released, the legendary Kurt Cobain died. Cobain’s death marked a massive shift in the already negative attitude toward Hole’s lead singer and his wife, Courtney Love. “Live Through This” was meant to be an album about living through the vitriol that was tossed at Love before his death; suddenly, it was about living through the trauma of losing a loved one and media's hyper-critical coverage of her life after Cobain’s passing. 

Before the release of Hole’s triumphant sophomore effort, Love was a frequent target of harassment from within grunge circles. Love often lived the hypocrisy of the 1990s music scene’s rebellious nature, and saw how her male counterparts were able to defy societal expectations without opposition while she was trapped within the expectations of being a woman. 

Love’s angry defiant attitude was often criticized, while contemporaries like Cobain, Layne Staley and Scott Weiland were praised. She was often told to quiet down, and her refusal made her a target.

Publications hounded Love for years. She repeatedly spoke about how rock needed a woman’s perspective and advocated for their inclusion in the genre but was often pitted against her female counterparts. Her feud with former bandmate Kat Bjelland (lead singer of "Babes in Toyland,“ which helped inspire riot grrl acts) was only intensified by repeated comparisons of the two. The media treated her like a dog to bet on in a fight, throwing her up against the people she tried to uplift in a genre she had to claw her way into. 

Further mistreatment of her womanhood would become increasingly common after she gave birth to her daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. Love refused to step out of the spotlight after Frances Cobain’s birth. Love opted to be a mother instead of a rockstar. This decision was lambasted repeatedly, and tabloids and reputable publications alike quickly began spreading rumors about Love’s performance as a mother. 

This came to a head with the ill-famed "Vanity Fair" story that claimed Love used drugs while she was pregnant, leading to a visit from Child Protective Services and Frances Cobain being temporarily taken away from her parents.

Being a pillar of ‘90s American culture was already an incredibly difficult job for Love, and yet it was made indescribably harder when she became a mother. Love existed as two things that were seemingly mutually exclusive — a superstar and a mother. 

Her paradoxical existence and refusal to leave her fame and music behind only made the target on her back grow. To think this was all before Kurt Cobain’s passing, and that coverage of her life somehow became more critical, is almost unfathomable.

Yet somehow this is the reality of Love’s existence. After Cobain passed, she was only further vilified. In some corners of the internet, she is blamed for his death, even accused of being the killer. In others, she is the butt of jokes about his death (a “Cleveland Show” cutaway scene would have you believe Kurt Cobain killed himself because he did not want to have sex with Love). No matter what, her existence seemingly revolves around Kurt Cobain’s — never is she an independent artist, even after his passing.

Her attempts to pick up the pieces of her life that were shattered by her husband’s death are somehow twisted as well. She was reportedly dropped from “Fight Club” after refusing to give Brad Pitt the rights to play Kurt Cobain in a biopic of the singer just four years after his death. 

The albums Hole released in the late ‘90s were often fraught with rumors that Love didn’t write any lyrics, rumors that were often unsubstantiated. People even claim Kurt Cobain wrote the entirety of “Live Through This,” a magnum opus detailing Love’s struggles as a woman who has been attacked her entire life.

Love’s success was never allowed to be her own. It always belonged to her husband, or who she was working with at the time or any man within five feet of her at any given time. But she lives through this, too, and she will continue to do so. Now it is our job as a society to begin revising the history around one of rock’s most legendary musicians and to finally recognize our failure to chronicle her life successfully.

Jackson McCoy is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Jackson know by emailing or tweeting him at or @_jackson_mccoy_.

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