Reacting to video of Miley Cyrus covering Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in Ecuador, Chris Beam remarked “If Kurt Cobain could kill himself a second time, he would.”
I bet he would, too. But even though I absolutely love Nirvana I’ve come to think that these particular kind of values that Cobain stood for were hideously wrongheaded. After all, Cobain literally killed himself. He wasn’t so much keeping it real and being authentic as he was a severely depressed heroin addict who really needed some help in life. A brilliant artist? Yes. But a horrible model of how to think about life. He ought to be thrilled that the songs he wrote continue to mean something to people and to be played. Miley Cyrus was 18 months old when Cobain died and many of her fans are even younger than she is. Yet here she is playing Cobain’s song to an audience in Ecuador. That, to me, is how you take art seriously—by celebrating it, and taking joy in the idea of a growing set of people experiencing it.