Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I am the girl you know, I lie and lie and lie

As a longtime fan, I was expecting to come away from the VH1 special The Return of Courtney Love relieved at how far she's come since rehab and eager to hear new material. But by the time it was over, I was frustrated and pissed at her.

Courtney may be off the crack but I don't believe for one second she's clean. By her own admission she's overusing prescription drugs. (I bet the makers of Abilify are thrilled to have her for their poster girl.) Rarely during an hour of interview segments did her affect approximate sobriety. The constant squirming, rocking and slurring were difficult to watch, to say nothing of her pass-out-and-fall-in-the-floor moment. The near-incoherent exchanges with Billy Corgan and Carrie Fisher (God, is Carrie her sponsor?) made me wonder how any sane, stable person could stay friends with her.

Most of all I felt sorry for Frances, her thirteen year old daughter. Frances never had a normal upbringing at the best of times but Courtney really put her through hell the last three years. Her extreme drug binges and suicide attempt resulted in Frances being removed from her custody. Courtney just cashed in twenty-five percent of the Nirvana catalog because she blew through $20 million in her crazy addict haze. Let's take a moment to let that sink in: she blew twenty million dollars. That makes the subtext ("Won't you please buy Courtney's new album and help keep her off the streets?") of this hour-long infomercial for How Dirty Girls Get Clean a bit hard to stomach. So did the tour of her ridiculously opulent home.

At first I thought Courtney was having a moment of self-awareness when she said, "I'm just glad to not be a professional widow," acknowledging the moniker bestowed on her by the scathing Tori Amos song. But then I hit the six-seconds-back button on my TiVo remote a couple of times and realized she was saying that to justify selling off a quarter of her daughter's legacy. The scene where she trotted out the coat Kurt killed himself in was so exploitative I had to look away from the screen. That will stay with me a long time. There is truly nothing she won't sell.

Courtney left her indelible stamp on rock music and on my life. Pretty on the Inside turned me on to many great riot grrl groups, Live Through This was the most played disc in my collection for at least five years, and Celebrity Skin had at least one devastatingly great song. Maybe she has another great album in her, maybe not. I'll always love Courtney, the artist. But I'm finally beginning to tire of Courtney, the personality. Sometimes addicts just don't get better, and watching her spiral downward with an innocent kid in tow is not my idea of entertainment.