“Amy Winehouse made drug use chic with her song Rehab, which is still in my top 10 belting songs. There was something about that song, the stubborn refusal, the refrain like jabbing fists (no! no! no!) that was empowering to listen to, if you didn’t mind the lyrics (which are about a woman so destroyed over the possibility of losing her boyfriend, she obliterates herself with alcohol). Or maybe as a person I just like refusal. Anyway, rah rah to drug culture. Of course, the joke kicks in because Amy Winehouse ran all over London half dressed and acting crazed so no one is surprised she died, which somehow managed to open her up to ridicule. Amy Winehouse, if not the butt of a joke, is a tragic figure. Don’t do drugs, kids, or you’ll end up like Amy Winehouse.
Hunter S. Thompson, for those of you in the audience without heads, was a lifelong addict and proponent of drug culture. His opus, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, is about coping with the discovery that the American Dream is dead via taking “two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.” Which we (and I did, too) cheered for. Hunter S. Thompson is lauded as one of the coolest, most sensible, most outrageous figures of the 70s with a clear resurgence of popularity before he died. Do drugs, kids, because Hunter S. Thompson is a genius.
Lest you think that it’s Amy Winehouse’s behavior that made her different, allow me to remind you that Hunter S. Thompson was often non-functional on account of the drugs he’s done, and would often appear on TV incoherent or babbling. His appearance on Letterman in the 80s is incomprehensible He stumbles onto the stage, mutters answers, forgets his train of thought, and gestures wildly with a cup while neglecting to light the cigarette in his mouth he’d been trying to light for the whole of the interview.
Hunter S. Thompson then killed himself, leaving a suicide note that said nothing other than Football Season Is Over.
Hunter S. Thompson is a cult hero. Amy Winehouse is a trainwreck.Keith Richards is a hilarious old man. Britney Spears is a trainwreck.Charlie Sheen is an internet sensation. Lindsay Lohan is a trainwreck.
the comparisons I’ve made above aren’t entirely meant to be 1:1. I did my best, and I could argue, for a long time, about the validity of my comparisons, but I won’t. That’s not the point here. The point is all the other stuff. We’re not judging our female artists and our male artists on the same criteria.”
You should read the whole thing. I love Hunter S. Thompson (especially Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, which is amazing stuff) – almost certainly more than I enjoy Amy Winehouse’s music. But that’s not the point either. The point is – as another part of the piece makes clear – that, culturally, Kurt Cobain is a tragic legend, and Courtney Love is a crazy messed up biatch. And ye cannae say double-standards more clearly than that.