You guys, did you realize that Hillary Clinton is the Courtney Love of the 2016 Democratic primaries? And that that makes Bernie Sanders Kurt Cobain?! Read on & I’ll show you two infographics that totally prove it. Plus, they’ll help you registered Dems out there decide how to cast your vote!
My journey of discovery began when I was trying to figure out why, despite the fact that my far-left political beliefs might line up more closely with Bernie Sanders’s platform than with Hillary Clinton’s, I’m still rooting for Hillary. There are actually plenty of well-reasoned, convincing arguments that make me feel good about rooting for Hillary; but I realized that I’ll always root for Hillary, just like I’ll always root for Courtney Love, because they roared into my consciousness when it was still forming, so I have to love them forever. You know, for the same reason we love the music we loved as teenagers for all our lives. Hillary was probably the first female politician I saw in person: she held a rally for Bill in front of the Providence City Hall in 1992, when I was twelve, and she wore a headband and was brilliant and energetic and likable and she was standing maybe 15 feet away from me and I loved her. Courtney came into my life maybe a year later, when my friend Sandra got into Hole, and Rolling Stone started printing photos of Kurt and Courtney and Frances Bean, and then in 1994 Kurt died, and that was horrible and sad, but also Live Through This came out and it was like the top of my head had been taken off, to quote Emily Dickinson. Anyway, I was trying to explain to somebody why I just have to love Hillary, and I was like, “you know, it’s like how I feel about Courtney Love, there’s just nothing I can do about it.”
But then I realized that Hillary and Courtney have a lot in common besides my passionate devotion: (blonde) ambition, talent, brilliance, fraught marriages with the Most Important Dudes of the 1990s. Most importantly, they’ve both been lightning rods for ambient cultural misogyny. People have made whole documentaries about the possibility that Courtney might have murdered Kurt; the list of Hillary’s supposed (and totally unsubstantiated) crimes is both hilarious and depressing.
I’m not the first to have noticed Hillary and Courtney’s kinship; not only did they apparently hang out in 2004 (?!), but in 1993, Sassy magazine, always at the vanguard of 90s culture, published this amazing (and prescient!) featurette:
This is way cleverer than anything I could have come up with (check out the pre-Brangelina celebrity-couple name-mashing! the joke about cookies & heroin!) and much sadder (there’s something so innocent and poignant about this coverage of these two happy couples, when Kurt was still alive) and probably wrong about mixing jewel tones (but they’re right, Courtney never would). But a lot has happened since 1993 (ALL OF IT BAD, I would say if I hadn’t had a cute, sassy daughter of my own exactly twenty years later), so I figured Sassy‘s breezy paragraph could use an update, and an infographic. Here you go: Courtney/Hillary Infographic #1!
As the chart above demonstrates, a lot of the vitriol that both Courtney and Hillary get seems to center on their inauthenticity, their duplicity, their artificiality. Despite her punk-grunge roots, Courtney liked being rich and made Kurt buy a Lexus! Courtney’s kinderwhore aesthetic exposed and mocked the beauty myth, and yet she also does her best to conform to those conventional beauty standards! Courtney says that she loved Kurt, but she yelled at him at his own funeral! Hillary has flip-flopped on major political issues! Teen Hillary was a Young Republican! Hillary took money from Goldman Sachs! Hillary didn’t divorce Bill when he humiliated her so their marriage must be a Fake Marriage! These are obviously highly gendered critiques, but another thing Courtney and Hillary have in common is that the popular image of their Feminine Duplicity is heightened by their proximity to a beloved model of Masculine Integrity: in Courtney’s case, it’s Kurt Cobain, and in Hillary’s case (right now, at least) it’s Bernie Sanders. In fact, the presence of Courtney and Hillary’s Feminine Duplicity may be required for the canonization of these Men With Integrity. (See also Yoko Ono.) The best way to show your loyalty to Kurt or Bernie is to turn Courtney or Hillary into an ice-cold, scheming, monstrous she-monster.
Which brings us to another infographic, one that will help you decide which candidate you should vote for in the Democratic primary. It’s time to decide once and for all: are you a Kurt & Bernie Bro or a Courtney & Hillary Grrrl? Don’t worry, I’m not trying to Gloria Steinem you: I’m not saying that if you’re a girl, or a feminist, you have to vote for Hillary. I’m a cool feminist, you guys.* But I do suspect that the values of Sanders and Clinton supporters map onto the values shared by fans of Kurt or Courtney in interesting ways, especially regarding authenticity, performance, gender, ambition, adaptability, and survival. And capitalism, for sure (insert your favorite thinkpiece about Beyonce’s “Formation” here). Just look at Courtney/Hillary Infographic #2!
* Some thoughts about Steinem feminists vs Bernie feminists: Most people will admit that the misogyny Hillary Clinton has endured over the course of her political career has continued during this election. Since the Iowa caucus, though, there has been a lot of backlash from Sanders supporters who feel that they’re being maligned as sexist when they’re really just, you know, feeling the Bern. Like Jamie Peck’s “Not everyone who criticizes Hillary Clinton is a sexist,” which admits that, sure, some people are saying misogynist stuff about Hillary, but that “white, neoliberal feminists” are “waxing disingenuously about how anyone who dares to criticize Clinton is a rabid sexist.” Also, everybody’s mad at Gloria Steinem because she said Bernie’s girl supporters are just trying to impress their boyfriends. And, like, I get it. Bernie Sanders is adorable; it is nonsense to require all women to vote for Clinton in solidarity with her woman-ness; Clinton has made choices (voting for the Iraq war; supporting policies that led to our unconscionable prison system) that would be dealbreakers for many voters regardless of the candidate’s gender. But don’t forget, you guys: misogyny is subtle. If you know enough to complain about white neoliberal feminists (and oh man are Courtney and Hillary both total white neoliberal feminists for sure) you should probably know that, like, everybody is a “rabid sexist,” and that we are all just trying to impress our Boyfriends (that’s Boyfriends with a capital P) (for Patriarchy, girls!). Think for a second before you say “I support Bernie, and I’m definitely not sexist.” I definitely am sexist, and I’m still not sure who would make a better President, or who I’m going to vote for in the primary. Maybe we should all try saying “I can’t help being sexist, and I’m voting for Hillary” or “I can’t help being sexist, and I’m voting for Bernie.” Or “Hi, I’ve been conditioned since birth to accept and promote white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and capitalism. For some reason I’m still trying to participate in democracy. I’m voting for ____.” Or “I am/Doll Parts./I’m voting for _______.” Good luck, America!