If My Daddy Thinks I’m Fine…


So Amy Winehouse died and that’s funny.


The jokes about “Guess she should have gone to rehab!” aren’t particularly funny, actually. What concerns me more is the idea that none of us should have been surprised because she was a trainwreck, out in public, high as jesus, acting a fool. I admit to being unsurprised at the news, but for entirely different reasons. My reasons being that, having had a Blake of my very own, and having a tendency towards self-medication…well, we can smell our own. Anyway.

First of all, I wanted to highlight here something my friend Lynsey said on my facebook (Lynsey is the fabulous organizer of the Glazgow Slutwalk and all around feminist rock star)

Our women artists, when they suffer addiction, mental illness etc. well then they’re silly whores, they’re wasting themselves! But guys do it and they’re tragic figures that you plaster on your walls. Never mind that she obviously never had the support she needed. Never mind that it’s pretty clear her management and label were more interested in shoving her back on stage to make money than helping her. Never mind that she obviously had a complete wasteman of a violent husband who exploited and harmed her. “lol she was an addict what do you expect” I’ll tell you what, stuff like this is a really great way to see what people are really like, and which ones are worth talking to ever again.
The first part of that is what interests me most. As I like to call it, the Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. By the way, I adore Courtney Love (Courtney! Call me!)

Kurt Cobain
The bleached-blond frontperson for a band that changed the face of music
Did some incredibly harmful things while awaiting the birth of his first child
Was mentally ill
Had a serious drug problem
Was married to another mentally ill person, which probably took a toll
Often acted out in public
Committed Suicide

Courtney Love
The bleached-blond frontperson for a band that changed the face of music
Did some incredibly harmful things while awaiting the birth of her first child
Was mentally ill
Had a serious drug problem
Was married to another mentally ill person, which probably took a toll
Often acts out in public
Remained alive

One of these people is a legend, and one of them is a crazy whore. See where this is going?

The other joke right now, of course, is about Amy’s very famous refusal to go to rehab. Mind you, she went to rehab multiple times, most of which were sabotaged by her husband, but that’s not quite the point yet.

Lots of addicts have publicly refused rehab, and have, in fact, made their living by touting the glory of the drug culture.  Amy Winehouse is the trainwreck, however. What she actually reminds me of is Hunter S. Thompson. To note, it seems valid to mention that I am a huge fan of Hunter S. Thompson (in fact, my derby name is Huntress Thompson) and only mildly interested in Amy Winehouse, so this isn’t fangirling.

Amy Winehouse made drug use chic with her song Rehab, which is still in my top 10 belting songs. There was something about that song, the stubborn refusal, the refrain like jabbing fists (no! no! no!) that was empowering to listen to, if you didn’t mind the lyrics (which are about a woman so destroyed over the possibility of losing her boyfriend, she obliterates herself with alcohol). Or maybe as a person I just like refusal. Anyway, rah rah to drug culture. Of course, the joke kicks in because Amy Winehouse ran all over London half dressed and acting crazed so no one is surprised she died, which somehow managed to open her up to ridicule. Amy Winehouse, if not the butt of a joke, is a tragic figure. Don’t do drugs, kids, or you’ll end up like Amy Winehouse.

Hunter S. Thompson, for those of you in the audience without heads, was a lifelong addict and proponent of drug culture. His opus, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, is about coping with the discovery that the American Dream is dead via taking “two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.” Which we (and I did, too) cheered for. Hunter S. Thompson is lauded as one of the coolest, most sensible, most outrageous figures of the 70s with a clear resurgence of popularity before he died. Do drugs, kids, because Hunter S. Thompson is a genius.

Lest you think that it’s Amy Winehouse’s behavior that made her different, allow me to remind you that Hunter S. Thompson was often non-functional on account of the drugs he’s done, and would often appear on TV incoherent or babbling.  In fact, the reason my derby name is Huntress Thompson is because I didn’t know how to rollerskate (and I’m still learning) and my friends made a joke about his characteristic inability to walk straight from one side of a room to another mirroring the way I skated. His appearance on Letterman in the80s is incomprehensible. He stumbles onto the stage, mutters answers, forgets his train of thought, and gestures wildly with a cup while neglecting to light the cigarette in his mouth he’d been trying to light for the whole of the interview.

Hunter S. Thompson then killed himself, leaving a suicide note that said nothing other than Football Season Is Over.

Hunter S. Thompson is a cult hero. Amy Winehouse is a trainwreck.
Keith Richards is a hilarious old man. Britney Spears is a trainwreck.
Charlie Sheen is an internet sensation. Lindsay Lohan is a trainwreck.

I can keep going.
(Do I need to analyze these images or can everyone just use their eyes?)

In fact, Amy Winehouse was introduced to drugs by her former husband, the Incarcerated Blake. That, by the way, is one of the hallmarks of abuse, is introducing your spouse to an addictive substance so they don’t feel well enough or capable of leaving. She went to rehab four times, if my memory serves, and at least of three of them were reportedly sabotaged by Blake, the Incarcerated. She was actually very clearly in an abusive relationship. I recall during the height of her insanity, Oh No They Didn’t practically praying for her divorce. The day it was announced, the members of ONTD went into a happy frenzy, declaring that Amy would be healthy once she got away from Blake.

Like maybe I’m missing something here, but we have a woman in an abusive, co-dependent relationship, who attempts to get help multiple times for her disease, is sabotaged and fails, and she is judged significantly more harshly than her male counterparts doing the same thing. She then died tragically young, possibly from suicide…

I seem to not get the joke.

UPDATE: Hello, everyone. I see that this post has gotten some attention in the past few days. Welcome to Feminist Land. It’s fun here.

The one thing that I wanted to say here is that the comparisons I’ve made above aren’t entirely meant to be 1:1. I did my best, and I could argue, for a long time, about the validity of my comparisons, but I won’t. The point of this was never to figure out if Live Through This was as genius as Nevermind (I contend they there were different, but significant) or if Keith Richards can truly be compared to Britney Spears on a musical level or only on a cultural level.

That’s not the point here. The point is all the other stuff. We’re not judging our female artists and our male artists on the same criteria.

Anyway, thank you for coming here. Please come back again some time. There will be more feminism and video games. And cookies!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Camilla-Gry-Clausen/1002514352 Camilla Gry Clausen

    Apropos feminisme og afdøde stjerner. Og tankevækkende at vi tilsyneladende ikke er nået længere…..

  • UnixDesigner78

    I was in eighth grade when Nevermind (aka “THE Seattle Scene”) broke, and Kurt died toward the end of my sophomore year of HS. That’s an amazingly short trajectory for someone who’s supposedly the Voice of My Generation (TM) and various and sundry other titles. While I did love that music – still do love me some Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, even if, as the late Layne Staley’s mom pointed out, the latter’s band name isn’t the most feminist out there – I always found it interesting how the “Big 4″ from that scene were all men.

    At least the Smashing Pumpkins had D’arcy Wretzky, but sadly she, too, is now a laughingstock drug addict, and her mugshot from her arrest in, I want to say 2011 (?) is plastered all over Google. James Iha used to play and interview so high on heroin he could barely hold his guitar, and Jonathan Melvoin OD’ed and died during the Mellon Collie tour the month before I moved away for college – with Jimmy Chamberlin at his side, aiding and abetting, and getting high too, no less – but it’s always D’arcy’s drug addiction that holds the fascination. Even today, Billy Corgan can’t let his anger toward her go, and he’s replaced her with an endless revolving door of token female bassists – but he’s on super buddy buddy terms with Jimmy last I heard. Nice!

    For what it’s worth, I always liked Courtney better than Kurt, and I think she had the patience of a saint at times for putting up with the moody little bastard. My husband agrees. Unfortunately, even kids who totally weren’t there – who were like, born 3, 4 years after Cobain died – seem to be hung up on the idea that Courtney killed her husband for the inheritance money. Riiiight. That’s why Kurt wrote about suicide, posed with a shotgun cocked in his mouth, and Courtney left a third of the estate to their daughter, Frances Bean. It was all the greedy “Teenage Wh0r3′s” cockamamie scheme to off Kurt for the MONEY! Why didn’t we think of that? After all, the town drunk, El Duce, whose shitty band made what he characterized as “rape rock” surely knows the affairs of the Love/Cobain family better than they do, right?

    I’m so with this article. Just everything. And besides Hole, The Gits and Hammerbox were damn good rock from that era too. One small thing I should note though, as a Chains fan, is that the press gave Layne (and Jerry Cantrell) a TON of shit in their heyday because of the drugs. Kurt was the patron saint of Gen-X, Layne was the disgusting, degenerate junkie who wasted away selfishly in his condo. I don’t know if that provides any comfort, and I’m certainly outraged at how the press treated him (just as I’m outraged at how they treated Courtney), but I think that whole era was overshadowed by Kurt’s death, and anyone else with similar problems was sneered at.

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