Of all the idols I had as a young teenager, the one whose fall it’s been hardest to take is Courtney Love’s. It’s not as if the Hole frontwoman and widow of Kurt Cobain hasn’t always been something of an enormous mess—in a 1992 profile of Love in Vanity Fair, she admitted to using heroin while pregnant with her daughter Frances Bean Cobain. But I always hoped that she’d snap out of it, clean up, become the fashion icon she briefly was, make another album as good as Live Through This or Celebrity Skin. And if Love couldn’t do any of those things, then I at least hoped she wouldn’t irrevocably mess up her daughter’s life.
If the latter wish has ever had any chance of coming through, it’s because Cobain had herself legally emancipated from her mother. She’s modeled, exhibited art, picked the cover for a Nirvana compilation, even gotten engaged. And in a sign of how far Love has fallen, I was actually relieved to see this week that a Los Angeles court is protecting Cobain from having to live out her relationship with her mother in public, yet again.
As the Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Gardner reported, Love is being sued by her former lawyer Rhonda Holmes for allegedly defaming Holmes on Twitter. Holmes decided to subpoena Cobain, on the grounds that she, having clashed with her mother on Twitter in the past, could establish a pattern of behavior. While there’s no question that Love has exhibited erratic and nasty behavior on social media, there was something awfully cruel about the idea of asking Cobain to take the stand against her mother to prove it. It would have simultaneously undermined Cobain’s efforts to build a life independent of her mother, and asked her to side against Love in a public and painful way. Those concerns may sound contradictory, but Cobain, after all the terrible cards she’s been dealt, deserves the right to figure out how she wants to handle her relationship with Love on her own, rather than on a court’s timetable.
Fortunately a judge agreed, or at least decided that Cobain’s emancipation from Love meant that she doesn’t have relevant information to offer in this particular case. It’s cold comfort that Love’s past horrible behavior has ended up protecting her daughter from further public exposure. But it’s a reminder that it’s about all we can expect from Love these days.