BY: SINEAD MULHERN
One of the Internet’s latest incomprehensibly stupid people has taken Kurt Cobain’s suicide letter, printed it on T-shirts and sold it on Etsy.
Twitter exploded after one user tweeted a photo of the shirt along with the words. “The best t-shirt I ever received in the mail.”
Everyone can appreciate a great Twitter fuck up, but this is well past the point of entertainment. This is cheapening someone’s suicide. This is making a profit off of a person’s death. This is piggybacking off of a music icon’s suicide and turning it into a money-making piece of merchandise.
Understandably, the t- shirt sparked outrage among Nirvana fans, those in the music scene, Twitter users, and pretty much anyone with common sense or reasonable sum of empathy.
kurt cobain was not diagnosed with a mental illness and leave a suicide note for it to be turned into a fashion trend pic.twitter.com/12dU1RWQNr
— rhia (@philippenis) January 11, 2015
Cobain, Nirvana’s frontman, shot himself in 1994 at the age of 27 ending his struggle with depression and heroin use.
By posting the shirt, Etsy seems to have left behind every shred of sympathy, respect and compassion for someone who has passed on. Let’s call suicide what it is: it’s a death and painful for many no matter how many years or decades have passed. No matter how much fame was accrued by the person who has departed. When a person’s death crossed the line from being an event to mourn and a life to celebrate to becoming a money-making scheme, I don’t know. It disgusts me. It saddens me even more.
Reactions on the Internet included the words “tasteless”, “inappropriate” and “disgusting.” Many begged to know who would want to wear someone’s suicide note. I’d ask the same. I guess some people thought that, in a way, this was a tribute to Cobain. Some might be tempted to pass it off as a celebration of his life. To me, that’s a cop out and nothing more than a front put on when someone doesn’t want to admit wrongdoing. In a way, calling the shirt a “tribute” is on the same level, I think, as when the words “I was joking” or “no offense” are used to mask comments that are quite the opposite.
I think with this situation, for those who bought and wore it, what’s most likely is that fans became blinded by fame established by an icon of the ’90s thus disregarding or forgetting that that Cobain is deserving of the respect and humility that seems to be the automatic human response towards suicide victims.
That’s not to dismiss their actions as an act of innocence or to accept the sort of well-I-didn’t-know-so-absolve-me-of-responsibility excuse. Perhaps we should become more focussed on the fact that everyone is responsible to give critical thought where critical thought is due. It certainly is when you make the decision to wear a suicide note as a piece of fashion.
Now as for those who sold the item, I’m just going to go ahead and call that an insensitive cash grab. I don’t think I’m out of line here. Furthermore, I think several would agree.
That leads me to point to a few of my favourite Twitter responses in the conversation:
someone on etsy put kurt cobain’s suicide note on a t-shirt. congratulations, you are trash. — Kelli (@venusdiviolet) January 13, 2015
“A) why did someone think it was OK put Kurt Cobain’s suicide note on a t-shirt? B) Why do people think it’s OK to buy it?”
“They put Kurt Cobain’s suicide letter on a t-shirt. I cannot even fathom how absolutely vile you have to be to buy and make something like that.”
Well, good. At least someone’s thinking.
Etsy has since pulled the shirt. I wouldn’t commend them in this action. The site is still selling a sculpture described as “Kurt Cobain suicide aftermath.” The “full-sized recreation” head sculpture is exactly what it sounds like and posted by a user named George of England (he’s also selling similar items called John Lennon Murder and Kennedy Assassination. These exist.)
Good for you George of England, you exemplify so many things that are wrong with people who don’t stop to think, and don’t think they ought to.
I could end this piece with a preachy comment to try to teach others to recognize how their actions affect others.
But why should I?
It might be just as easy to teach an antelope how to knit a couch throw.