Be Bold, Part 9: Courtney Love

“Courtney, what advice would you give to a young girl moving to Hollywood?”
“If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party at the Four Seasons, don’t go.”
And with that comment in 2005, Courtney Love busted open the rotten heart of Tinseltown and exposed Weinstein for the monster he was.
I’m joking, of course. Everyone ignored her. “Crazy old Courtney, talking trash again. She must be high.”
And nothing changed.
For almost 15 years.
Weinstein was the King of Hollywood, Courtney was just the Queen of Not Giving A Fuck.  Everyone else played good little actors and actresses, not wanting to bite the grabby sausage-hand that fed them. The casting couch continued to be a corny joke, a throwback to the good old days, not a place of frozen horror, fear, confusion and shame. Golden Globe nominated actress Courtney Love has not had a leading role, or pretty much any role, in Hollywood since.
And no-one cared.
Everyone assumed crazy old Courtney had fucked up her chances at a serious acting career by being too drunk, too high, too trashy, too loud, too Courtney.
But Courtney knew. And Courtney used her voice, the voice she had been honing for years on the road as the front woman of Hole. She yelled, she screamed, she howled as if her very existence depended on it. She wanted “every girl in the world to pick up a guitar and start screaming.”
“Just you try to hold me down,
Come on try to shut me up.”
Hole – Gutless
I finally watched Nick Broomfield’s Kurt and Courtney documentary, 25 years after he tried to convince the world that Courtney’s heroin-addicted, chronically ill, depressed and fame-haunted husband didn’t commit suicide. It struck me as a parade of junkies, nobodies and wannabes, using any tenuous link to Cobain to score 15 minutes of fame and some drug money along the way, taking the naïve Broomfield along for the ride. No wonder Courtney did everything she could to shut the film down. Much like Meghan Markle, Love’s own father (Bio Dad, as she calls him) even cashed in on her name and accused her of everything under the sun, including having Kurt murdered. Just as Nancy Spungeon was described by her mother as a screaming baby who never stopped crying, could never be soothed, could never be pacified, could never be controlled or understood, Courtney was seen as a problem child, eventually sent away by her parents to a school for delinquent girls.

When I was a teenage whore
The rain came down like it never did before
I paid good money not to be ignored
Then why am I a teenage whore?

I’ve seen your repulsion and it looks real good on you
Denying what, what you put me through

Hole – Teenage Whore


She never felt welcome in her family home again, and after being bounced around various parents and step-parents, she finally left to  make her way in the world, experiencing everything on offer. She wanted to taste it all, whether she was table dancing in Guam or being a Liverpool goth.

I’ve got a blister from touching everything I see

Hole – Softer Softest

Courtney, always an obsessive journal keeper and poetry writer, began studying the craft of “being a rock star” with the level of detail and dedication of a medical school student, but Love was at the University of life, majoring in rock and roll. She wrote in one diary how she wanted to record an album and “become friends with Michael Stipe”. And she achieved everything she set out to do, which is more than can be said of many of the people she learned from along the way, some who now feel she used them, took what she wanted and moved on. Ex-boyfriends, ex-band members, ex-mentors, few have nice words to say about Courtney. She has even said of herself “I am just the classic person who wants to learn stuff. I want good tutors”. She saw what the world had to offer her, and she took it, and became a star, much to the chagrin of those she passed on the way up.
When her husband, the love of her life and the father of her child, took his own life, Courtney didn’t lay down and die, play the good widow, she carried on doing what she does best – being a rock star. Live Through This, not simply one of the greatest albums of the 90s but one of the greatest of all time, was released a week after Kurt’s death. While some could not believe Love had penned the album herself, without the aid of her husband, others blamed her for Kurt’s death and the end of Nirvana. Everything was her fault, yet she was not allowed to take the credit for her own success. Love had placed herself firmly in the lineage of “women who ruined everything”, from Anne Boleyn to Yoko Oko.
She spent twenty years in the Dakota
Every single day it was black in the Dakota
Riot grrrls think you can stop me
And you’re forever in her debt
Well I know you haven’t sent me
And you haven’t sent her yet
She spent twenty years like a virus
They want to burn the witches inside us
Well you, you don’t fuck with the fabulous four
Or you spend the rest of your life
Picking things up off the floor”

Hole – 20 Years In The Dakota

After the tragic hounding of Caroline Flack by the British gutter press, after Meghan Markle was forced to leave the country for her own sanity, after the lonely death of Amy Winehouse finally gave her release from the cameras that followed her every move, after the death of Princess Diana in a Parisian tunnel after a paparazzi pursuit, after all the hollow #BeKind posts, Courtney Love’s appearance at the 50th Brit Awards this year still drew howls of derision, abuse and vitriol. One of the greatest living rock stars, she literally did live through it all, but she committed the crime of being a woman who wouldn’t play by the rules.
“Courtney Love made her way to the Brits after party looking a right state”
“Why haven’t we cancelled Courtney Love?”
“Congratulations on The Brits for finding the corpse of Courtney Love”
Despite everything, it appears bold women like Courtney will continue to be dissected, unpicked, cut open, reduced to no more than the sum of their parts.
And bold women like Courtney will continue to not give a fuck.