Last month, Kat Von D released her highly anticipated Basket Case eyeliner, created in partnership with Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. It was a mass hit, quickly emptied from shelves and online stock.
The limited-edition liner likely won't be making a comeback, but that isn't stopping the internet from point out one very, very big issue.
Instagram's punk community is really not OK with Kat Von D's latest eyeliner, specifically due to this promotional shot of Von D and Billie Joe Armstrong handcuffed together.
It's a recreation of this photo of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. Understanding why that's infuriating to some requires a little music history.
As you likely already know, Sid Vicious was the bassist and vocalist of Sex Pistols, one of the most iconic punk bands of all time. During the band's reign, he met Nancy Spungen, who would later become his girlfriend and manager. To the public eye, their relationship involved domestic violence, drug use, and mental illness — Spungen was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age.
In October 1978, Vicious allegedly murdered Spungen in their New York City home and was charged with second-degree murder. The following February, Vicious overdosed on heroin and died while awaiting trial.
Combine the Sid and Nancy imagery with an eyeliner named Basket Case, and it's clear why some might find this campaign distasteful.
FYI, "basket case," is a term that started in WWII, and it referred to a soldier who had lost all his appendages and literally had to be carried in a basket. Over time, the phrase took on a new meaning and is still used to describe someone who "is helpless or incapable of functioning normally, especially due to overwhelming stress, anxiety, or the like."
While this KVD Beauty liner was named after the Green Day song "Basket Case," it's important to note where that term originally came from — and why it's not necessarily endearing.
Instagram user punksnotpretty pointed all of this out — many agree with her, but others think it's a reach.
"You both took something from the truly mentally ill @katvondbeauty @greenday. Why would you take this imagery and not donate the proceeds to mental health research? ESP [sic] when you BOTH have been to rehab," she wrote.
"Mental illness is at a [sic] all time high and you both are using it for a fashion statement & [sic] and to sell a fucking eyeliner! You took from my community — you took something sacred, and then used it to sell a eyeliner called #basketcase!!! Basketcase is another word for insanity!!!
"The proceeds for this should have been given to mental illness research — period! I hope other people speak out against this! Because it’s the meanest thing you can do to people that were mentally ill. I’m really disappointed in you Kat."
The eyeliner and campaign, some say, were supposed to be about punk music and culture, not mental illness.
And Sid and Nancy are legends for reasons far beyond their mental illness — some give Von D and Armstrong credit for realizing that.
"I can see how it might offend you," one user wrote. "I struggle with mental illness, too — but I don't think they were trying to appropriate mental illness. I think it's just an iconic punk image to go along with selling a product that is marketed towards capturing the essence of punk makeup. Billy Joe struggles with mental illness, too, and that's why Green Day's most popular album is called Basket Case. By saying that recreating an iconic image of two people who happened to have mental illnesses is monetizing mental illness is basically the same as saying that all these people were was a mental illness, instead of an iconic duo of punk style and music."
Plus, the liner itself is named for the Green Day song "Basket Case," which Armstrong wrote to cope with his own mental illness.
Green Day fans everywhere would argue the tongue-in-cheek song was crucial to their understanding of their own mental health.
Von D hasn't responded to the critique — but she has liked the post, as has the offical Sex Pistols account.
Did Von D intentionally capitalize on mental illness? Maybe not, but that doesn't make this conversation any less necessary.
Mental health is a complex subject, and it's best managed when discussed with trusted loved ones and experts. To learn more, or talk with a trained professional, visit MentalHealth.gov.