The title of this post is an actual quote by Kurt Cobain. And so are the following quotes: “the worst crime is faking it” and “wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are”.
I hope this post doesn’t turn out to be too controversial. I’m commenting on this by suggestion of BRK666, which seems to be my first faithful reader so far. So anyway, here goes.
I never enjoyed grunge music very much. On the contrary, I enjoyed precisely the genres of music that grunge helped to kill: hard rock, hair metal and new wave rock. If you’ve watched Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler”, there’s a scene in which his characters dances and sings to “Round and Round” and complains that grunge killed hard rock. I loved that scene. I agree with him. I’m not a big fan of grunge.
But that doesn’t mean I hate Kurt Cobain or other grunge musicians. I like some Nirvana songs (the ones in GH5 are actually very good), and I think Kurt Cobain was a very authentic person, which is a trait I respect a lot.
There has been some controversy about the use of Kurt Cobain’s image in GH5, and here’s the story. Activision got the rights for the use of Nirvana’s frontman in the game, and then when the game got released, people discovered that any player could use Kurt’s avatar to sing any kind of song. Yes, even No Doubt. Now imagine Gwen Stefani’s voice coming out of Kurt Cobain’s mouth as he sings “Ex-Girlfriend”. YIKES!
Courtney Love got majorly pissed at that and threatened to sue Activision. Guitar Hero CEO Dan Rosensweig responded:
“We care about the artists more than anyone else and we would like to make artists happy in every circumstance. I’m disappointed in this case that there seems to be confusion between the band and the estate. It’s really not Guitar Hero’s confusion. We went and spoke directly to the estate and made it crystal clear, got the rights, paid for the rights, and really we’ve done what we’ve always done. The fact that the rest of the band and the estate did not communicate . . . I can’t speak for everybody being happy.”
The estate being Courtney Love. Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic also expressed themselves in the official Foo Fighters website:
“We want people to know that we are dismayed and very disappointed in the way a facsimile of Kurt is used in the Guitar Hero game. The name and likeness of Kurt Cobain are the sole property of his estate – we have no control whatsoever in that area.
While we were aware of Kurt’s image being used with two Nirvana songs, we didn’t know players have the ability to unlock the character. This feature allows the character to be used with any kind of song the player wants. We urge Activision to do the right thing in “re-locking” Kurt’s character so that this won’t continue in the future.
It’s hard to watch an image of Kurt pantomiming other artists’ music alongside cartoon characters. Kurt Cobain wrote songs that hold a lot of meaning to people all over the world. We feel he deserves better.”
And even Bon Jovi added his own opinion to the discussion:
“To hear someone else’s voice coming out of a cartoon version of me? I don’t know. It sounds a little forced.”
“I had the paperwork, they wanted me to be on that game and I just passed, but no-one even broached the subject with me that I would be singing other people’s stuff. I don’t know how I would have reacted to that. I don’t know that I would have wanted it either.”
Ok so here’s my own opinion on the subject. It was a lack of sensibility on Activision’s part. Of course they had the legal rights to do it, but still, is it “nice” to do it? Is everything that’s legal automatically ethical and correct? Of course not. Just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. And picture yourself in the same situation. You were a rock star, you had a crappy life in which you struggled with drug abuse after your parents got divorced. Eventually you commited suicide. And now, from the afterlife, you see yourself in a videogame singing “Ex-Girlfriend” with a girl’s voice coming out of your mouth.
Wouldn’t you want to crawl back from the dead to haunt the shit out of some people? I know I would.
Now, I don’t think Kurt Cobain was a role model for anyone. He made some terrible decisions throughout his life, and no one should have him as an example. So maybe he wasn’t even a good choice for a character in a videogame aimed at a young audience. But he deserves respect just like every other individual in the world. Specially since he’s now deceased and can’t express his own opinion on the subject.
So I’m gonna have to side with Courtney Love, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl and Bon Jovi here. It was a wrong move. I’m not gonna say people at Activision are evil and disrespectful, but at least they should have been more responsible.
And by the way, I never understood that feature of playing the avatars of existing rocks stars. I mean, the purpose of the game is to simulate that YOU’re the rockstar, so why use the image of someone who’s already famous? I just don’t get it, really.