Do you think Courtney Love has surpassed Madonna as an icon of tough, sexy, smart womanhood?
Curious in New York
Courtney Love is clearly in transition, so it's too early to predict how she may develop as an actress or musician. But at this point it is preposterous to compare her achievements with those of Madonna, who is a world figure of huge impact on the performing arts. Courtney's core following is very limited by age, race and nationality, while Madonna's ardent, multiracial fans range from children to mature adults and number in the millions.
Courtney has already shown she is the better actress because of her ability to open herself emotionally to her character, as well as to her director and fellow actors. Paradoxically, this may be because she's less psychologically stable than Madonna, who is a mogul and control freak and too suspicious and guarded to really blend with an ensemble where she's not the boss.
The drug-free, perfectionist Madonna is much more profoundly visionary and steadily inner-directed than Courtney, who thus far has been primarily reactive, bouncing from place to place and thing to thing. I can't imagine Madonna -- or any genuine rebel -- saying what Courtney did after the Golden Globe awards about how much she was enjoying adults being "nice" to her.
Courtney's recent, drastic image makeover was long overdue. Not only did she hang on to that tatty "Kinder-whore" look for four years too long, but her reputation still needs emergency resuscitation in some circles. For example, about a year and a half ago, a famous, hip comedian said disgustedly to me, after she saw a dirty, disheveled, staggering Courtney "dragging" her tiny child through a packed, raucous party in the middle of the night, "Kurt Cobain killed himself to get away from her."
It must also be said that Courtney, as much as Hillary Clinton, owed her initial prominence to her association with a famous man. This cannot be said of Madonna, who learned her technical skills from a series of shadowy producers but who rocketed herself to superstardom.
Finally, Madonna's massive contributions to music leave Courtney's in the dust. Courtney's group, Hole, is a good but not great band that has yet to add a single important song to the central repertoire of popular music. Madonna, in contrast, is a major original composer and arranger whose blazingly beautiful, intricately layered songs have dominated the air waves and permeated the imagination for 13 years. When will the Grammy Awards judges, those gross hypocrites, get around to honoring her?
Please note that I
continue to defend Madonna despite the fact that she has been nothing
but bitchy, bitchy, bitchy about me! I am, you see, the second
Italian-American lesbian named Camille whom the gods have devilishly
sent to help and harass her -- the first being the pivotal, early
manager whom Madonna ditched on her way up.
March 4, 1997