This is a concept that my friend Lou and I discuss frequently. Probably as we are both ardent admirers of the crazy, frankly.
The concept being that, some people, having hit their genius quota, are entitled to be as bonkers as they want and never turn in a good piece of work in again – distressing though it is to see artists going downhill.
Our main genius/crazy heroine is of course Courtney Love. Having produced Live Through This when she was 29 – as well as marrying the world’s biggest rockstar and having a child – she earned her legendary stripes early. That album still is, and always will be a classic. That Celebrity Skin was as good (if different) was a bonus. Personally, I think that America’s Sweetheart is great in places, as is Nobody’s Daughter. I also love Pretty on the Inside, but that was pre LTT and very much the sound of someone finding her feet (although the talent and charisma already there are undeniable). I hope she’s got some good work left in her yet – that goes for her acting as well as music. However, if she just doesn’t feel like it then that’s OK with me. She’s done enough. (As long as she’s happy – which we can but hope for.)
Another – perhaps surprising – member of this club, in our humble opinion, is Nicolas Cage. Yes, it’s easy to forget now what a great actor he was before he descended into Elvis-craziness, self-parody and, um, National Treasure. But from Moonstruck to Leaving Las Vegas, he was utterly magnificent (in my humble opinion via the charming It Could Happen To You). Again, if he wants to spend the rest of his days making more and more National Treasure sequels and buying castles, then so be it.
More depressing are the ones who fall short – Lindsay Lohan may have been full of potential in Mean Girls but she still hasn’t realised it enough; in my opinion, Machete (although a brilliant film) was a bit early for her to get into ironic comebacks. Here’s hoping for Liz and Dick.
Many might argue that Billy Corgan up there, but although I love Siamese Dream (and, actually, Mellon Collie) – I don’t think any of his output is quite good enough to permit Zwan.
The criteria are pretty strict. We aren’t talking about stars going down in a blaze of glory or unfairly snuffed out before they reach their full stretch. We mean those that have got just dried up or got a bit more rubbish than they used to be. To those who have hit their genius quota and then pretty much given up, I salute you.