Online marketplace Etsy caused a kerfuffle recently by selling shirts emblazoned with the suicide note of the late Kurt Cobain.
Etsy and other e-commerce sites have since pulled the shirts from their virtual shelves, but the big question remains: Who in their right mind would wear such a thing?
To be fair, some would wear it to make a statement about depression. But most kids just want to shock people.
I know, because I was one of those rebellious kids. Let’s go back about 23 years.
It’s 1992, I am in my early 20s and am pretty much pissed at the world. I have a chip on my shoulder the size of a bowling ball and harbor immature notions of what is cool.
At that time I was all about shocking people. Shocking people is a good way to change the subject, especially when the subject is why you’re such a fuck up. Of course, wearing the shirt proved I was just that.
I thought it would be a cool statement if I went around in a Charles Manson T-shirt. Guns ‘N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose was wearing one on stage, so I knew it was the cool thing to do.
My stupidity hit me clearer a few years ago, after I read Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family’s Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice, written by Tate family friend Alisa Statman and Brie Tate, niece of Sharon Tate.
Patti Tate picked up the crusade against the Manson killers when her mom, Doris, passed away in 1992. In the book, she recalls seeing Rose in a video on MTV, sporting the infamous T-shirt. Here was a guy reaching millions of kids every day, essentially telling them that Manson was cool, a guy to look up to.
Fast-forward to 2015. With the Cobain suicide shirt, some worry that those wearing it are sending the message that suicide is cool. Cobain gave us important music, and there are far better ways to honor the man than wearing the symbol of his lost fight against the demons.
Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, has spoken out against the romanticizing of suicide in recent months. Shirts like this further illustrate the problem she has tried to address.