Frances Bean Cobain, daughter of the late Kurt Cobain, recently decided to throw herself a “Suicidal Sixteen” birthday party. Now look, I’m all for themed parties, and if any other teenage girl planned this macabre festivus, I suppose we’d just shake our heads and mutter something about kids today before returning to our “Murder She Wrote” marathons. My first instinct, though, isn’t to shake my fist and tell little Frances to get off my lawn, but to go all Princess Buttercup on her ass (“You mock my pain!”) and shove her down a hill.
This feels like some sick, sick finger pointed, not at her father, but at all the people who cared for him. Millions of people (a good chunk of them the age Frances is now) were torn up when, in 1994, they heard that Kurt Cobain had shot himself in his Lake Washington home. Cobain’s life belonged to the world, which is part of the reason behind his suicide and part of the reason Frances’ party makes me want to vomit a little bit. The tiny teenager inside of me who still thinks plaid shirts are the shit wants to shout that Kurt’s death belonged to all of us, too, and to cut a bitch for poking fun.
On the other hand, if someone doesn’t care enough about being your daddy to decline the Long Sleep, I guess you’re allowed to be pissed, and even enjoy a few ironic laughs. And how can I demand that she be sensitive to my feelings of grief and loss when I have no way of understanding her childhood? (Courtney Love is her mom, after all.) Frances has been dealing with all the crappy-ass trickle-down that comes from celebrity parents (particularly dead and/or fame-whorey ones) for 7/8s of her young life. If anyone has the right to spoof a personal tragedy this publicly, it’s Ms. Bean.
Sticking with that same hand (the one where I’m kind of okay with it), Frances is 16. Isn’t this what 16-year olds do? Prance around with their skirts too short or their jeans too low, middle fingers to the world? To shock a mother like Courtney Love, you’d pretty well have to have your face replaced with your ass. Frances has taken the somewhat easier route of alienating a good chunk of the Western world. Few teens would have this opportunity, but Frances is simultaneously a teen craving attention and a young woman who has had entirely too much; she is clearly exploiting the hell out of it. Considering how badly growing up in the spotlight — your own or the reflection from your dead daddy’s — is guaranteed to eff you up (see also: Lindsay Lohan; Macaulay Culkin), maybe Frances Bean is doing all right.
It is dangerous to make light of something as serious as suicide because it disguises all the sharp edges, makes razor blades and shotguns into gag gifts. Dealing with tragedy, however, is not a choice Frances has been given, and this snide shebang may be her way of coping. It’s inappropriate, sure, but if it’s any worse than anything I’ve done, that’s only because her normal teen angst is backed by abnormal fame and fortune.
So happy birthday, Frances, however you celebrated it. Maybe you’ve even given your Dad a good laugh.