When I heard about the Bowiefest at the ICA in London in September last year, I wondered why Bowie, why again. Was there something else cooking? Was one of the most celebrated cultural icons making a comeback? Something that I thought was rather interesting is that his coolness image was being highlighted once again. Was this what Bowie had always intended, to perpetuate his coolness in any way?
I have recently read this article by BBC Radio 3’s Matthew Sweet, where he discusses the fact that he actually mirrors a much darker time. His political comments were absolutely outrageous when one looks back at them. This is not what is commonly mentioned when referring to him. It is more the glam, the drugs and the alcohol that people most usually refer to. Where is his coolness now?
But, it wasn’t only the drugs and the alcohol. In the mid 1970’s, there was this train of thought by which Britain was thought to be going towards totalitarianism and bankruptcy, and that a dictatorship might even be a desirable solution. I didn’t know about Eric Clapton being so terribly racist back then. The perfect ground for punk!
David Bowie seems to reflect on all this in his last video The Stars Are Out Tonight, where a couple in the ’70’s with ‘a nice life’ are disturbed by their new, noisy neighbours. He plays with the idea of fame and the other usual aspects around him, such as androgyny and some sexual feeling. It is a good piece of work, also starring Tilda Swinton, which I hope you enjoy too. Welcome back, David Bowie!