Despite his short 27 years on Earth and having made three albums, Kurt Cobain (and his music) is still admired, appreciated and remembered among many teenagers today. A sample population of teens was used in one of the Fine Brothers Production’s “react” videos that showed how certain people in different generations respond to certain videos or objects. On March 24, 2014, a video was released that shows how today’s teens, who were born after the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994, reacted to Nirvana and the music. The “review” brought a mixture of giggles and bewilderment from most teens and a few adoring remarks from several young ladies.
Some Generation Xers may think that most younger people today do not appreciate or know much about music from the grunge period. However, the sample group proved otherwise. The group of teens were shown three Nirvana music videos. A few showed little expression, such as 18-year-olds Shant and Alix, while one teen, Adam, re-enacted and lip-synced to the lyrics with a little bit of head-banging. One young lady, Madison, commented how the music video “Smells Like Teen Spirit” looked “normal” because no one was “stripping.”
The second video, “Heart-Shaped Box,” brought confusion and mild shock among most of the teens, particularly the portrayal of Jesus Christ and Ku Klux Klan members. “Was this actually put on TV and they were actually showing this?” asked 16-year-old Kaelyn, forming an uneasy smile with wide eyes. “I’ve never been so more confused with a music video in my life,” commented Shant. However, Alix liked the part where Kurt Cobain brushed his hair back, which prompted her to say, “He’s so attractive.” Another girl mentioned how “creepy” she felt because she also found him to be attractive yet “he’s dead.”
After the teens sat through MTV Unplugged’s version of “About a Girl,” they were asked to share their thoughts about Nirvana and what they had watched. Some of them wouldn’t listen to it for long, while a few hardcore fans, like Adam, said that it is their all-time favorite band. Shant commented how despite “all that yelling,” it was also “relaxing.” In regards to why Kurt Cobain and the band did not play the major hits in the last video while other bands at the time did, Tom replied that they played for the love of music, not for the money. Jeordy mentioned that Nirvana gave the audience “what they are instead of what anyone else wants.” Some of the teens agreed that teenage angst is prevalent in all generations.
Not surprisingly, there were a few teens who did not know how Kurt Cobain died and reacted with shock when they were told that he committed suicide. In regards to his death, 17-year-old Labib said, “I know a lot of people who hate on Justin Bieber. On his birthday, I saw a trend going on:’Kill yourself, Bieber.’ If something like that happened like that (Kurt Cobain’s suicide), what are we going to say afterwards?”
The teens reacted mostly with empathy on the death of Kurt Cobain. For a band like Nirvana to have such an influence in the rock music culture and today’s youngsters shows that Kurt Cobain did not live a wasted life. Although the tiny sample of teens in the video may or may not represent the majority of teens today, Generation Xers should not be concerned whether this generation of youngsters appreciates or knows Nirvana -or any musicians from the early 1990’s-or not. However, they may feel like giving themselves a facepalm when they hear teenagers say, “I actually like old music like that.”
Opinion by Nick Ng