Is Courtney Love A Racist?
It must be a slow week because Courtney Love is in the news for being an asshole again. Love lashed out against High School: The Musical: The Series (:The Too Many Colons) alum and early album of summer dropper Olivia Rodrigo for ripping off the cover of her Hole album Live Through This. This left many people confused. First, because no one under the age of 26 knows who Courtney Love is and, secondly, why she'd pick such a hardcore fight with Rodrigo as the album covers are about as different as the middle-aged grunge rocker and the perma-young pop singer themselves. But being different might be part of the issue here, uncomfortably, because this beef might involve the fact that Courtney Love is a smidge racist.
When Kurt Cobain wrote: "If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us -- leave us the f**k alone! Don't come to our shows and don't buy our records," it was a good thing that Courtney Love was getting her husband's albums for free. Since his departure to the big baby swimming pool in the sky, Love has developed a hard to overlook history of controversial racist statements. During the Live Through This tour with her band Hole in 1994, a very high and very mad Love would repeatedly drag herself onto the stage and rage against the machine in two specific ways: She would take her top off and, at a quiet point in the concert, try to whip the crowd into shape by getting them to chant bad words along with her. First the B-word, then the C-word, and, eventually, the N-word.
When the crowd went along with this, Love would praise them for being "good white people" and add: "Ahh, do you feel less politically correct now? Because I do." When the crowd would boo her middle-schooler's idea of subversive speech, Love "couldn't handle it" and shut down. Luckily, she eventually stopped screaming the N-word at her concerts. Instead, she put all that problematic energy into her songwriting, debuting her latest track in Madison Square Garden at the end of her tour, a little ditty called … oh no.
"N***er of Your Dreams" was, of course, never officially released, and what scant live bootlegs of it are probably hidden in the private collections of some very Gen-X klansmen. Even when she refrains from using the N-word, her comments on Black people are still on par with my small town grandma's. She has chastised Black men for wearing do-rags, and, during the comedy roast of Pamela Anderson in 2005, she snapped back at Eddie Griffin: "You African Americans only know about me because I've been arrested."
While that sounds like your typical cheap roast joke (is there another kind?), it hints at the strange root of Courtney Love's problem with black people, which seems old-fashioned in the "two water fountains" kind of way. At least, this seems to be her stance when it comes to music. On several occasions, Love has commented that she doesn't think Black people should listen to rock (despite, y'know, inventing it) -- or white people to hip hop, for that matter. During her 24 hour takeover of MTV, 24 Hours of Love, she uttered her by praising a black girl for not knowing the Strokes, adding: "You've got your culture, I've got mine!" Side note: She also tells a story about not recognizing Jay-Z at the height of his fame and making him go get her a root beer, which may have sounded more charming if it hadn't come three hours after encouraging Black people to stick to their own culture.
Her separate-music-but-equal views popped up again during a 2010 performance, as did her bitterness, boobs, and bigotry pattern. After refusing to sing until putting on a fan's bra, she emptied an already angry venue by pulling up a Black girl on stage and asking her: ""Do you really like rock music?" When the girl and the crowd flinched, she clarified: "Because you're African American. That would be like me being into Lil Wayne."
So, is Courtney Love racist? Well … obviously -- at least in the dictionary definition sense that she has a lot to say about people based on the color of their skin. But worse (yes, worse than being a racist, I said it) Courtney Love is one of those crusty white Gen X edgelords who says things like "I can say f*g because I'm a gay icon" just to piss off the haters -- who at this point comprise of a majority of the human population. Combine that with an apparent lifetime of half-consciousness and grief (Love made a majority of these comments within months after a personal tragedy: Cobain's death in '94, being held in a mental ward in '04, and losing custody of her child in '09), and it's no wonder she gets into trouble for saying the first half-baked reactionary bullshit that pops into her grungy mind like she's auditioning for The Real Housewives of Portland, Oregon.
But does Courtney Love hate minorities? That seems highly doubtful. After all, this is also a woman who stood by Kurt Cobain's outspoken anti-racist screeds, a woman who has vocally lent her support to Black movements and has publically attacked several other people(/enemies) for being racists. And would a real racist give Jay-Z the rights to sample "Smells Like Teen Spirit," losing out on millions of royalties out of respect for him as a person and artist? And all she asked in return was to be allowed to cover his "99 Problems," even insisting on respecting the iconic piece of Black music by … singing all the N-words in it.
Oh, goddamnit, Courtney.
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Top Image: Alexander Samoylyk, Flickr