SAVE FRANCES BEAN!

#Culture

Tue, Jan 31st, 2006 02:00 by Jakob Straub ARTICLE

My generation lacks revolutionary squares in which to gather and shout out slogans, showing off indoctrination received by an oppressive regime. We don't participate in rallies with flags and banners because we're being individuals who don't raise their fists in the air in unison. Instead we meet at concerts and music festivals (sponsored by a brand of beer which is sold exclusively in a watered-down variation) where we wear our individuality on our t-shirts like a blue Maoist overall. Paying an obscene amount of money for a mail-order shirt, or better yet, buying one off the vendor's rack right there truly makes you stand out in a crowd. If you wear last year's shirt to this year's event, you can show off your veteran status, your loyal fandom or simply that you have been there the last time. But how faded can your shirt get before you're missing out on something? How long till people won't recognize the slogan anymore, or till it's culturally outdated?

Some time ago, Maynard James Keenan of the band Tool could be seen on stage wearing a shirt with the slogan "Save Frances Bean." The statement seemed to be a stick thrown at Courtney Love, and even though the battle that ensued between the two due to her dislike of the slogan seems to be over by now, it spawned a movement and those shirts are still available for ordering. Save Frances Bean from what, you might ask. While the statement was neither a petition nor a court order, a large group of people deemed it clear that it was a challenge to save her from her mother's bad influence. Custody trials marked the childhood of Frances Bean, who at some point had to live with her grandparents, just like her father, Kurt Cobain (may he rest in peace), had to in his childhood - for different reasons, though. Is a mother with a history of substance abuse and repeated arrests like Love fit for raising a child? Of those who are quick to answer no, many are also convinced Love played at least an influential role in the death of her husband, if they're not flat out accusing her of murder.

Keenan, however, argued his message was Frances Bean needed protection from the public. Save her from all the stalkers, the people taking an interest in her out of curiosity for what she might look like, be like, or do. Frances Bean is said to look a lot like her father, and since there has been a shortage of Kurt Cobain snapshots ever since his self-inflicted death in 1994, naturally some people have turned to his daughter. Be it because they use the resemblance as reminiscence of Kurt, or because they want to watch her development. By contrast, Courtney Love, for all her media presence and attention her behavior begs (and draws), seems to have ironically enough always been the less favorite of the couple.

If you're curious, you will have no problems turning up some recent shots of Frances Bean now, at the age of 13, with the help of a Google picture search. By the way, most pictures show her smiling, either at something out of the frame, or directly into the camera. And I guess it could end there, a seemingly happy child on the verge of puberty, hopefully overcoming her childhood hardships, namely her daddy's early death and her mommy's continuing battle for custody and against addiction.

And surely you and I, or anybody else, for that matter, isn't invading any privacy by viewing a few photographs on the net. After all, it's what celebrities do, getting photographed, and if Courtney wouldn't want any pictures of little Frances to be taken, she wouldn't take her along to those movie premieres and award shows, would she? So what's the flip side? That they have to shield her from the eyes and cameras of paparazzi, and that we simply don't know about it for precisely that reason, to secure her a few moments without the public watching? The amount of press coverage some things or people receive is insane, as is the length photographers will go to just to obtain a celebrity shot. But recall the circumstances of the death of Lady Di, and take a moment to consider where you would put the blame or responsibility for that. On the two paparazzi in pursuit on their motorcycles, or on the public demand for intimate pictures that fuelled them?

Courtney Love has always made a point out of living a public life, often using the media as means to an end and only lashing out at journalists when she wasn't satisfied with the kind of review or coverage she got. Nevertheless, a celebrity, like everyone, should be entitled to their privacy. Frances Bean might have to struggle forever to shake off the image of a "rock-star child." One can only hope that the people she'll meet in life will be pleasantly surprised at how she is actually different from her picture portrayed by the media.

What a strange world in which to grow up for her: fans worldwide fondly remember her dad, and a lot of them probably know his suicide note, or have read his journals, which you can buy in any given bookstore. Yet many hate her mother, either because she allowed said journals to be published, or for her music, or for what they think she did to Kurt Cobain. There are people who want to keep her mother away from her with restraining orders, and there are others making money with her name and the request to save her printed on a shirt. When will those shirts be obsolete - when she's coming off age?

I wonder what might be the mark of her generation; ideally, it could be a distrust of the public opinion, or a scrutinizing attitude towards the media. More likely, they're a generation of myspacers whose idea of individuality is keeping a weblog.

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