Famous child of divorce: Kurt Cobain, revisited

Today would have been Kurt Cobain’s 51st birthday. I wrote about him two years ago, here. He committed suicide on April 5, 1994.

Today, I want to take a look at one of Nirvana’s music videos, to explore the “child of divorce” theme and see if we can find it there. I find some of the imagery and lyrics relevant to that theme. Of course, it is possible that I am “reading into” this video. But let me present my case and you can decide for yourself.

First, two general impressions: 1) the entire music video seems like a dream. There are disparate images, blurry images, and lyrics that say contradictory things. 2) there appears to be a recurring theme of abnormality, or of feeling abnormal.

Next, let’s consider several of the images, and their abnormality.

  1. When I posted about Cobain two years ago, I watched this video a few times. The first thing that I noticed, that made me wonder if this was his life as a child of divorce, was how his face is presented as being split. This image appears a few times in the video. I have actually felt this way–a physical sensation that goes down the center of my body, that makes me feel as if I am two halves.
  2. An abnormal spermatozoon at about the :54 mark, with an enlarged head and split tail.
  3. A dog with a cone around its neck. The dog is obviously sick, but it is outside in the rain. Its owners are not caring for it properly. Children of divorce experience more neglect than their counterparts in intact families.
  4. The concrete stairs with water running down them. There is a gaping hole in them, near the bottom. They appear a number of times in the video. Sometimes I am sure they are outside stairs (for example, when the dog is standing on them). Other times I am not sure. When Cobain is swinging from the chandelier, for example, is that outdoors or indoors? Maybe this is another example the lack of a clear demarcation… what is in? What is out?
  5. Blurry images of the band playing their instruments. Blurry self image of the child of divorce?
  6. A revolver in the swimming pool. Nine times Cobain says that he does not have a gun, yet there it is.
  7. A baby in the swimming pool, apparently swimming after a dollar bill on a fish hook. This is the most well-known image of the video. I don’t know how to tie it into this theme. Even so, the situation is not normal.

Then there are some selected lyrics, saying contradictory things:

  • Come as you are, as you were
    As I want you to be
    As a friend, as a friend
    As an known enemy…
  • Take your time, hurry up
    The choice is yours, don’t be late…
  • Come doused in mud, soaked in bleach…
I’ve frequently argued that children of divorce must accept many contradictions so that their parents can “move on” with their lives. They become outsiders to their own parents, who might be viewed as spies for the other parent. The half of them that represents the rejected parent must be rejected as well, so that the parent will not be reminded of that past relationship.

Not the be-all, end-all analysis. Just some things I’ve thought about since coming across this music video a few years ago.

 

I do believe that the children of divorce are communicating their pain and confusion. But as a society, we’re not listening.

 

If you liked this post, you might like the ones I wrote about Chester Bennington of Linkin Park:

 

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Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I originally started writing here to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I gradually started writing about the Catholic faith, and the blog probably is more of that at this point. However, there is overlap between the two, since the "shape" of the family is a triangle, which is a reflection of the Holy Family and the Holy Trinity.

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