Dude! It’s The ’90s!: Nirvana, “Heart Shaped Box”

10 Mar

Behold!  A new feature on Geek USA!   The name of this one, unless someone can come up with something better, is “Dude! It’s The ’90s!”  In it, we explore the pop culture landscape in the age of Clinton – the hits, the misses, the highs, the lows, from Pearl Jam to Primitive Radio Gods , from Snoop to Skee-Lo.

This is something I wrote for a WBCN blog I was supposed to write.  What happened was, our web guy told us “hey! We want our DJs to blog!” and I said “sure! I’ll let you know when I have something!” and he said “sure!” and then I came up with something and e-mailed him for the password and he never got back to me.  That sort of thing happened a lot at WBCN.  I think they didn’t like me very much.

Nirvana – “Heart Shaped Box”

Category: Music Video

Summary: Flowers, death, fetuses, man-orexia, little girls in Klan robes, hearts, Visible Women, scary trees… this is what it was like in Kurt Cobain’s head.  All. The. Time.

Things to notice: Santa Christ (0:24) – Skinny old man with a Santa Claus hat is climbing up a latter onto – yes – it’s a cross.  This video is probably why, every year at Christmas, my Jewish friends are like “I’m Jewish.  I celebrate Hannukah.  I don’t worship Santa, ha ha.”

Do not look directly at Kurt Cobain (0:52) – This is a “theme” in all of Nirvana’s videos: you never see Kurt in focus for very long.  He’s either got hair all over his face or he’s hiding behind glasses or a waterfall or Krist Novoselic.  Here, he’s a big blurry mess for most of the video, but when you finally see him, you realize how much he looks like a skinny, crazy version of Sawyer from LOST.  .

Actually, do not look directly at the other two guys either (1:25) – Anton Corbjin has opted to focus (and unfocus) entirely on Kurt, shooting Krist and Dave from a distance at all times.  Mr. Corbjin got his start taking pictures of, and filming videos for, Joy Division, which makes me think that Anton might have taken one look at Kurt, thought about what happened to his old buddy Ian Curtis, and decided to get as much footage of Mr. Cobain while he was still among the living.

The little Klan girl (1:30) – Kurt’s original idea for the “Lithium” video was about a little girl whose parents were KKK.  Eventually, she rebels against Mom and Dad..  They couldn’t afford to make that version as the band blew their video budget playing NBA Jam and drinking Ecto Cooler (citation needed).  Now, you’re probably thinking this is where Li’l Klan-ette comes from.  Except… that’s not a Klan robe, it’s a Druid robe – the same costumes show up in Anton’s video for Joy Division’s song “Atmosphere.” Which, come to think of it, was Joy Division’s last video before their lead singer killed himself.  We should put this man in touch with Chris Daughtry.

The little Klan girl has lost her hat (2:46) – She’s really not in the Klan.  There are no eyeholes, and there’s no Iron Cross on her chest.  But yeah, her hat flies off and lands in a dark puddle.  It soaks up the Black Goo of Evil (like in The X-Files) and all of a sudden, she’s The Little Druid Girl Of Death.  She stands beside Santa Christ’s hospital bed in her new black robes… there’s a cross on the ground, there’s ravens everywhere, there’s funeral flowers… I honestly can’t tell if Kurt was trying to tell us something, or if Anton Corbjin wanted to flood Kurt with as much death imagery as possible in a sick attempt to add another “tragic martyr of rock and roll” in his portfolio.  Creeeeepy.

Nirvana Shops At Target! (3:43)

Fetuses. (all over the place)  Kurt used to collect plastic fetuses.  I used to collect Pez dispensers.  To each his own.

Final Judgement: It’s like reviewing someone else’s dream.  There’s a lot of images that sort of fit together, but nothing really makes sense unless you know certain things about the person having the dream.  We know Kurt well enough to know that this video is exactly what he would come up with if given free reign, so there’s a certain honesty and purity to it.   Here’s the thing, though: druid children, crucified Santas, old men in hospital beds, fetuses… on MTV.  During the day.  Think about it the next time you’re watching Jersey Shore.  (A+)

1 Comment

Posted by on March 10, 2010 in music, nostalgia, radio, youtube


Tags: , , , , ,

One response to “Dude! It’s The ’90s!: Nirvana, “Heart Shaped Box”

  1. Kathleen

    March 10, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    This is the one Nirvana song/video I ever managed to catch when I was in middle school. I felt very accomplished, because I could actually talk about the band a little with my classmates, who were huge Nirvana fans, which helped counteract some of the “Trekkie” stigma that I carried around. Can’t be all that bad if I listen to Nirvana.^^ I haven’t seen the video in ages, but I remember really liking it, and thinking the images were a bit jarring with the song itself.


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