I began by choosing a favorite star and listing what I already knew about her. I wanted to determine why I thought I was fascinated with Courtney Love, the lead singer of the band Hole. What fan knowledge do I have of Courtney? Courtney is famous for two things: she's a very hard or punk musician and she is the widow of Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of break-through grunge band Nirvana. They have a little girl named Frances Bean. Courtney has been around about the American alternative scene for quite some time now. I first remember seeing her in the film Sid and Nancy -- a drama about the relationship between the Sex Pistols' bass player Sid Vicious and his partner Nancy Spungen. Courtney had a very small part in this film; she plays a friend of Nancy's in New York; Courtney tells Nancy to leave the washed up, wasted Sid.
Courtney comes from a fairly wealthy yet eclectic family. She inherited some sort of trust fund which allowed her to emancipate very early. I think she may have been 15 or 16 when she (legally) left her family. Her money allowed her to travel around a lot while she was still quite young. She did several semesters of college study at several very good schools and was brilliant, although the courses she took never followed any established plan of study. She has joked that if you were to add up all of the academic credits she earned at various schools, she would have hours equivalent to four degrees. Her main academic interests seem to lie in philosophy, art, and literature. After leaving her family, Courtney worked as a stripper in some clubs on the West coast.
In relationship to Kurt Cobain, Courtney has been yoko-ed by many music fans. That is, many of Kurt's fans blame Courtney for his problems -- as if she brought him down the way many Beatles fans believe(d) that Yoko Ono brought John Lennon down. Courtney's yoko-ing extends to the point at which certain people suggest that Courtney killed Kurt.
Both Kurt and Courtney were famous heroin addicts. They emerged on the alternative music scene at a time when heroin was making a fashionable comeback to the prominence it enjoyed during the 70s. Courtney's drug use caused her both legal and PR troubles -- although it is attractive to many of her fans. Legally, Courtney's drug use poses problems for her as a mother; at one point she temporarily lost custody of Francis Bean. The question of whether or not she was using drugs (and heroin in particular) constantly buzzed about her pregnancy. No one seemed to care if Francis Bean's father was a junky. Courtney's drug use has been mythologized. Publicly, she obscures fan knowledge by insisting, vehemently at times, that she is not using heroin. These statements always come across as statements in the moment; she never denies that she has used heroin, but rather argues about when she was using (not during her pregnancy, she claims). Courtney's fierce presence, however, feeds the myth that she must be a drug addict -- why else would she be so angry, so destructive?
Musically, Hole is the forerunning angry, radical, feminist band on the American music scene. Their lyrics, sung by Courtney, attest to and stage the trauma of being a girl/woman in this culture. Courtney's constructs her public persona around this trauma. Describing her look as 'kinder-whore', she mixes baby-doll type dresses and hair styles with sex shop attire and make-up. Culturally, Courtney Love is frightening. I first really noticed Courtney in a Vanity Fair article. I'd heard of her before, but I didn't really know her -- or anything about her; I read the article because it was causing a big stink. Everyone was talking about it. What struck me in this article? The fact that Courtney claimed that Madonna had stolen her look! This is basically what I knew about Courtney Love. I have no idea what if anything is true -- and frankly, as a fan, I don't care too much about that. I also researched her cover stories in Spin, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. These interviews indicate several other points of interest: Courtney hates hippies and identifies new wave as one of her influences. Of interest here, for zin/ography, are the points of identification that exist between us. Which aspects of Courtney's identity appeal to me? -- feminine beauty, feminism, fandom and credibility.