To those who grew up idolizing the man and his music, the news that late, lamented Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain would appear as an unlockable character in "Guitar Hero 5" — one that strikes rock-star poses and rocks out to Bon Jovi tracks, mind you — seemed particularly disrespectful to his legacy, not to mention a tad bit ghastly.
Now, imagine how you'd feel if you were his widow, his former bandmates or his friend.
Because over the past week, all those people — Courtney Love (who, in addition to being Cobain's widow and the mother of his child, is also the arbiter of his estate), Nirvana's Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic and author/friend Everett True — have weighed in on the subject, each expressing their disgust at the way Cobain's likeness is used in the game and some even threatening legal action against its publisher, Activision.
It all started when True — author of "Nirvana: The Biography" and the man who, as legend has it, introduced Cobain to Love in 1991 at a Butthole Surfers gig — published a profanity-laced missive about the game on his blog and accused Love and Grohl of sanctioning the use of Cobain's likeness.
Love responded to True's claims via her Twitter account, writing that she "never signed of [sic]" on Activision's use of Cobain's likeness in the game and threatened to sue the publisher for "breach of contract" (she also took more than a few potshots at Grohl, writing, "If there's a hell, he's going. I'm not").
"For the record, this 'Guitar Hero' sh-- is breach of contract on a bully's part, and there will be a proper addressing of this," Love wrote. "We are going to sue the sh-- out of Activision. 'We' being the Trust, the Estate, the LLC and the various LLCs of Cobain Enterprises."
Of course, this drew a response from Activision itself, who, in a statement released Thursday (September 10), denied Love's claims and said they had attained all the necessary agreements to feature Cobain 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 statement read.
And, in an interview with the U.K.'s Guardian, Activision Vice President Tim Riley took it one step further, saying Love was "great to work with" and "supplied us with videos and photos [of Cobain]" for use in the game.
"She picked the wardrobe and the hairstyle, which turned out to be the 'Teen Spirit' look, then we went back and forth over changes — some subtle, some not so subtle," Riley told the paper. "[Love wanted] a sort of athletic definition, but not overly so."
And finally, late Thursday night, Grohl and Novoselic waded into the fray, releasing a joint statement that said that while they were disappointed by the entire situation, they had no control over the use of Cobain's likeness in the "Guitar Hero" game. But they did ask Activision to make amends by "re-locking" the Cobain character.
"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 statement read. "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. 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," the statement continued. "Kurt Cobain wrote songs that hold a lot of meaning to people all over the world. We feel he deserves better."
A spokesperson for Activision has not responded to MTV News' request for comment on Grohl and Novoselic's statement.