From Anti-hero to Commodity: The Legacy of Kurt Cobain

Paul Ziek, Pace University, USA
Mirjana Pantic, Pace University, USA
Published: November 20, 2019

Citation: Ziek, M. & Pantic, M. (2019). From Anti-hero to Commodity: The Legacy of Kurt Cobain. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 6(2).


April 8, 2019, marked the 25th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. Since his suicide, Cobain’s image has been immortalized in a variety of ways: there are documentaries and popular press books dedicated to his life and death, there is a park in Aberdeen, Washington, named after him, his personal paintings are part of a traveling art show and his handwriting is available as a downloadable font. Moreover, dozens of retailers sell merchandise featuring him and his band, Nirvana. Although a large amount of academic literature has been written on Kurt Cobain and the music he created, there is still a gap: little to no work investigates his rise to celebrity status. To fill in the gap in academic knowledge, the current paper considers the legacy of Kurt Cobain at the silver anniversary of his death. It does so by utilizing a constitutive view of communication to explain how the narratives surrounding Kurt Cobain create both a rise in his fandom as well as the commodification of his reputation as an antihero.

Keywords: antihero, Cobain, grunge, Kurt Cobain, music, Nirvana, rock music