Kurt Cobain Murder Theories: Smells Like Teen Bullshit

Courtney Love did not kill Kurt Cobain. Let’s put this idiotic, juvenile, and completely imbecilic idea to bed right now. Or better yet, let’s take it out back and send a bullet ricocheting through its skull, since this is clearly the outcome conspiracy theorists of the most unpolished degree want so badly to be true. But that’s the funny thing about truth: one generally needs little things like solid facts – not disgusting, barely contained misogyny – to back up any claim therein. And its in this particular regard that the Courtney-killed-Kurt crowd falls spectacularly short, despite continuing to cling with pathetic persistence to a baseless rumor, in much the same way the Tea Party likes to insist that President Obama is actually an Islamic fundamentalist.

Quite frankly, I’ve been a Nirvana (and, full disclosure, Hole) enthusiast for most of my teen-to-adult life, and have yet to hear a truly compelling argument in favor of the murder theories. But like those fruit flies lingering around the kitchen trash can that just never seem to die, Kurt Cobain murder theories continue to boast a significant following among music fans young and old. From those I’ve encountered, the majority appear to be embittered hipster types who can’t quite seem to come to terms with the idea that their hero actually killed himself, thus sending “yeah, the world really is that fucked up” shock wave messages throughout the whole of Nirvana’s devoted fanbase. And I understand and sympathize with that frustration – as any reputable psychologist will readily tell you, suicide is about the most selfish, certain-to-piss-off-those-who-love-you exit strategy a body can take from this world. Believe me, as the college friend of a suicide victim and a Cobain fan myself, the suicide of someone you care about – no matter how distantly or closely connected – is a devastating blow that confuses as much as it saddens. It is not a natural death: you’re gonna be left wanting answers, and perhaps pointing fingers is the obvious extension of this urge. But we do the man and his legacy no favors by placing the heavy burden of guilt upon his widow, the person he chose to commit himself to.

Particularly when doing so involves no sound, reasonable basis for accusation. Murder theorists will often raise the question of how a man shot full of a triple heroin dose could possibly have lifted a rifle from the ground and shot himself through the mouth. Well, according to nerdy science types who study such things, blood makes the trip from heart to vein to heart again in about a minute – ample time to pick up a gun and pull the trigger, especially if the shooter is already prepared. (As suicidal folks are, sadly, wont to be.) Then there’s also a matter of the believers themselves: as writer Charles Rollins points out on the site justiceforkurt.com, “Far as I know, no one who knew (really knew) Kurt, and loved him, has put up a page proclaiming murder.” Indeed, no members of Cobain’s family, nor his Nirvana bandmates, have publicly hopped aboard the murder bandwagon, and given the level of Courtney-hate found in that fold, I can’t see why they’d refrain if something fishy were afoot. In fact, Danny Goldberg, head of Nirvana’s management agency, refers to the suicide theories as “crazy Internet rumors” in his book Dispatches from the Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit. Even Nick Broomfield, infamous director of conspiracy-porn docs like Biggie & Tupac and the more relevant Kurt & Courtney, which leant cinematic credence to the murder theories, was forced to conclude with the coroners. “I think that he committed suicide. I don't think that there's a smoking gun,” he said after the film’s release.

So why, then, are we still bandying about such ridiculous, shoddy speculation, even nearly 20 years after Cobain’s death? Well, since we all know that severely depressed heroin addicts couldn’t possibly off themselves, the obvious choice is: murder! The persistence of conspiracy theories for as long as fools will listen is a societal constant, of course, but as I postulated earlier, I also suspect there’s a fair amount of blatant misogyny at play here. Probably from individuals who would normally consider their viewpoints anything but. And that’s the true curse of a culture that allows woman-hating to simmer beneath its surface: the least suspected are almost always infected. In true classical fashion, its apt to single out the Eve among Adams for scrutiny, the hated she-beast surely responsible for bringing down a man in his prime. Although no concrete evidence supports it, simple minds may find adhering to nonsense a suitable outlet by which to project the idea of feminine culpability, reinforced from birth on.

Buck up, Nirvana super fans. Quit aping the Neanderthalic type described sneeringly by Kurt in “In Bloom” and, well, “Very Ape.” In refusing to accept logic and facts, murder theorists do nothing but disrespect their fallen hero by displaying knee jerk characteristics he would have found abhorrent. Let’s allow the man to rest in the kind of peace he wasn’t able to find in life.


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