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There's a Thin Line Between Love and Hate


A family photo of Love in Hawaii, 1996.  

This all works out fine for a public that seems to have an insatiable desire to see Love, as she once put it, “covered in loser dust.” It is somehow not enough to know, as we already did, that Love’s father gave her drugs when she was a little girl and later tried to make a career of telling anyone who would listen that she murdered Cobain. (Supportive!) Or that she once crashed an MTV interview at the VMAs to literally kneel at the feet of Madonna (who acidly remarked, “Courtney Love is in dire need of attention right now”). Or that she has been, at different times in her 42 years, a stripper and a junkie, and has overdosed in front of her daughter on OxyContin and been straitjacketed and removed from her own home. If Love were to put Frances Bean’s old dirty diapers on display at a gallery, I doubt the show would be underattended.

Many an artist, male and female, has had a nervous breakdown or a drug addiction: Janis Joplin, Vincent Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath. But there is a difference between succumbing to the dark or pathetic forces within oneself and fetishizing them—imagining that your neuroses are as interesting as your talents. These diaries, while putting a lot of personal detritus out there, don’t bring us any closer to understanding what is really special about Courtney Love: her music. Dirty Blonde ends with an afterword arguing that Love is a feminist role model because she defies feminine conventions. But what would be really thrilling is to see her defy the feminine convention of self-loathing.


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