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Jared Leto becomes Kurt Cobain: Touching tribute or horrible blasphemy?

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Jared Leto Kurt Cobain

Yesterday, legions of rock fans remembered the seventeenth anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death with a spin of Nevermind or a viewing of “Heart Shaped Box.”

Jared Leto decided to do it another way:



On his blog, Leto wrote:

I heard today was the day Kurt passed away 17 years ago. Can’t believe it’s been that long. So grateful for his contribution and inspiration. Not sure I’d be doing this if it weren’t for him. He gave us all permission to create no matter what our skill set and reminded me that dreams are possible. Thanks for that. This made me recall a short piece of film I shot when I heard they were making a film celebrating his life. I made it to explore the character and explore creative possibilities. I never sent it to the studio or to anyone but thought I’d share it now…

Here’s the thing: Leto clearly did this out of affection. Just about every song he has ever written for 30 Seconds to Mars has borrowed a bit of Nirvana’s balance of quiet and loud, and it’s pretty obvious that he took great pains to make sure that he looked exactly like Cobain did when he recorded Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged six months before his suicide. Just about everything is perfect, from the way he holds the guitar to the vocal inflections.

But there’s something about it that just feels … wrong. The video itself is well made, but really, it’s more about how great Leto would be in a movie about Cobain than about remembering an icon’s death. I mean, this is a tribute.

It puts the spotlight on Leto, which makes the whole thing feel creepier than it actually is. Consider this: If Angelina Jolie put out a video of herself doing an impression of Elizabeth Taylor two weeks ago, wouldn’t everybody have immediately bristled at the concept, even if it was executed lovingly?

What do you think? Is the video an awesome tribute or a total bummer? And is Leto’s crime more in his timing than anything else?

Read more on EW.com:

Nirvana baby recreates iconic cover photo as teenager

Jared Leto talks “banned” Thirty Seconds to Mars video: “It’s an interesting double standard”

Remembering Kurt Cobain: Looking back at EW’s archived Nirvana reviews