Ex-Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic have issued a statement saying they are “dismayed and disappointed” about the appearance of Kurt Cobain as a playable character in Guitar Hero 5.
The joint statement from the former drummer and bassist for Nirvana comes a day after Cobain’s wife, Courtney Love, accused Activision of “breach of contract” and threatened via Twitter to “sue the shit” out of them over his appearance. Grohl and Novoselic are considerably more coherent in their reaction to the game, which should come as no great surprise to anyone, but it’s clear they’re not too happy about the way the late singer’s image is being treated.
“We want people to know that we are dismayed and very disappointed in the way a facsimile of Kurt is used in the Guitar Hero game. The name and likeness of Kurt Cobain are the sole property of his estate – we have no control whatsoever in that area,” the pair said in the statement.
“While we were aware of Kurt’s image being used with two Nirvana songs, we didn’t know players have the ability to unlock the character. This feature allows the character to be used with any kind of song the player wants,” they said. “We urge Activision to do the right thing in ‘re-locking’ Kurt’s character so that this won’t continue in the future.”
“It’s hard to watch an image of Kurt pantomiming other artists’ music alongside cartoon characters. Kurt Cobain wrote songs that hold a lot of meaning to people all over the world,” they added. “We feel he deserves better.”
In response to yesterday’s outburst, Activision issued a statement of its own claiming that Love herself had signed a contract allowing Cobain’s inclusion in the game. “Guitar Hero secured the necessary licensing rights from the Cobain estate in a written agreement signed by Courtney Love to use Kurt Cobain’s likeness as a fully playable character in Guitar Hero 5,” the company said.
I personally don’t care one way or the other about Cobain’s inclusion in the game but I am curious about why so many people seem to be up in arms over it. Recycling dead guys is nothing new; The Beatles: Rock Band certainly didn’t shy away from it and Cobain is sharing the Guitar Hero 5 stage with the late, great Johnny Cash, yet nobody says a word about his presence. I can’t help but think there’s a certain loss of perspective at work here. Maybe it’s still too soon (perhaps Activision should have held off until Guitar Hero X) but at what point does it become okay to start using dead people to sell your crap?