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Infowars: David Bowie’s “death is the capstone on the pyramid of necrotic Anglo-American mass culture”

David Bowie has left us with some big pants to fill
David Bowie has left us with some big pants to fill

Like a lot of people out there, I’m going to miss the magnificent weirdo that was David Bowie. While the rest of us listen to our favorite Bowie songs on repeat, the not-so-good folks at Infowars — conspiracy theory central — are actually celebrating the musician and cultural icon’s death.

In a post titled DAVID BOWIE: A NON-APPRECIATION, Darrell Y. Hamamoto suggests that Bowie, who died of cancer, was himself a symptom of “civilizational cancer.”

After several paragraphs of mostly incoherent throat-clearing, which sort of suggest (among other things) that Bowie was responsible not only for Gary Glitter’s fashion sense but also his sexual abuse and exploitation of children, Hamamoto presents us with his thesis, declaring that Bowie’s

death is the capstone on the pyramid of necrotic Anglo-American mass culture spanning a half-century of civilizational cancer away so fantastic and unreal that leads one to suspect that “Bowie” (Born David Robert Jones) sprang from the twisted, fervid minds of social psychologists residing at the Tavistock Institute.

That was all one sentence.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the Tavistock Institute is a nearly 70-year-old British think-tank that does work in psychology and the social sciences; it’s a favorite bugbear of assorted conspiracy theorists, who blame it for, among other things, the brainwashing of American prisoners of war in Korea, the CIA’s MK Ultra program, and The Beatles.

Anyway, Hamamoto is pretty stoked by the news of Bowie’s passing, declaring that

the Death of David Bowie might presage a new era of spiritual regeneration that is the precondition of civilizational health and advancement.

Skimming through the more than one thousand comments left on Hamamoto’s post so far, it appears that there are not a lot of Bowie fans in the house.

Someone called daf declares that

Bowie was an agent of the NWO, forging acceptance for gender identity politics re: transvestites, transgender, gays… Not to mention furtherance of the ET/ Alien meme that the NWO sought to advance. Listen to the music: is it really that good? Nah.

“The Hebrew Institute,” meanwhile, argues that

David Bowie can kiss my ass… he was a fuckin satanistic edomite who is rotting in the pit for his homosexual acts and overtones to accept that behavior not of God and he is now paying for it….may he keep rotting in the pit of hell to which he deserves AMEN.

Blahblahblah is clearly not a big fan of Bowie’s unique style:

He was a Luciferian puppet, spreading NWO agenda through music like so many others. Look at the lightning bolt on his face.

But not everyone in the comments is quite so enamored of Hamamoto’s analysis. Indeed, one longtime Infowars listener was so appalled by the post, and the responses to it, that they decided to become a former listener:

After years of being a dedicated listener, observer and supporter of this program I just cut ties with you all together. … I’ve stuck up for your articles and it’s caused me a lot of social consternation … your OPINIONS and ASSUMPTIONS in this matter are so far off base it makes me want to vomit on my computer screen. Then reading the hateful comments on this page about homosexuals and FREAKS makes me want to jump this boat and join the illuminated manipulators … The fact of the matter is that this was a talented human being with much love and talent to offer the world and the author ties this in to some “homosexual illuminati occult agenda” … [T]hat I have supported such a bigoted support base here is something I am ashamed of after all these years. 

Good for you.

In case you’re not familiar with Infowars, here’s Alex Jones, the dude who runs the place. And yes, the tantrum in the video is a real one. He’s got some anger issues.

And here are a couple of videos of Bowie performing in 1972.

Yesterday, I put together a little playlist of some of my favorite Bowie songs on Spotify.

Sorry, Alex Jones; you will be remembered, if at all, as an embarrassment to humanity. Bowie will be remembered as a musical and cultural legend, albeit a far from perfect human being.

EDIT: I reworded the ending to take into account Bowie’s reported rape of underage “groupie” Laurie Maddox, which I didn’t know about when I originally wrote the piece. (I say “reported,” because I wasn’t there and he wasn’t charged much less convicted for it, but Maddox’s account is all-too-plausible; I believe her.)

 

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LG
LG
5 years ago

“If I’m wrong about him being a child predator, I’ll totally own it when the evidence appears. Until then, I’ll continue to love him till Tuesday… and beyond.”

I can’t speak for anyone else, but you have my permission to love him no matter what. I think that’s a better position to take, honestly, because humans is humans and that means complicated, horrible, monstrous, problematic. And what I love about Bowie’s work (other than the musical innovation) is how unapologetically his songs portrayed this ambiguous messiness.

All that matters is not making excuses and always leaving room for survivors to speak their truth and find healing.

brooked
brooked
5 years ago

@Hambeast

I looked up the word “edomite” and can’t figure why it’s a bad thing. I probably don’t want to know…

I googled “satanistic edomite” but decided not to plummet down the enormous rabbit hole that appeared before me.

It was a lot of this:

The Illuminati are at the top of two particular races of people known as the Edomite Jews and the Sons of Cain.

Ddog
Ddog
5 years ago

I’m actually a bit disappointed in this thread tbh. I’ve read that he slept with a 13 year old groupie. If this wasn’t a massive star people wouldn’t be making excuses about it being a time when power struggles weren’t spoken about, or he was wrong but a different kind of wromg…..just no. A 13 year old can’t give informed consent. I’ve seen that written by commemters here many times but it seems to be forgotten now?!

Also I read in an article 13_ If that is incorrect I’d welcome further discussion but as is I can’t feel anything but revulsion at the excusing of this abuse of power.
Also adding I get very emotional about this issue and can pick things up wrong when I am upset so I apologise if I have and have upset anyone .

Bryce
Bryce
5 years ago

I’m surprised (not) that they didn’t bring up the fact that David Bowie raped an underage girl into this but, then again, most manospherians want to do that so I guess just having consensual sex with legal adults that happen to men is the bigger offense here.

You might be referring to Sable Starr (Sable Hay Shields), a groupie involved with quite a few rock stars in LA during early 70s. Iggy Pop pretty much admitted to statutory rape with her in 1970, when she was 13, in lyrics, and to Paul Trynka in the biography Open Up and Bleed. Not sure how old she was when her and Bowie met, she may have been 16 by that stage (if someone knows more about this, please clarify). It’s unacceptable whatever the case and probably fair to assume Bowie wasn’t proud of his behaviour in regards to this.

Johanna
5 years ago

For what it’s worth, I read a pretty good piece about mourning an artist who is somewhat (or a lot!) problematic – written specifically about Bowie. Dunno if the wee little bots will let me paste a link here, but let’s see…

http://aidamanduley.com/2016/01/12/david-bowie-time-to-mourn-or-call-out-2/

Sissy
Sissy
5 years ago

Ooh, an article on my birthday!

In case you’re not familiar with Infowars

Oh, I’m familiar… unfortunately. I have to listen to that guy on Sundays and Mondays when my dad comes home from working up north. And yeah, he really has screaming tantrums. Heck, he’s one of those guys who has to yell over people so they never get a chance to speak at all!

I just can’t stand that guy.

SpleenyBadger
SpleenyBadger
5 years ago

@Ddog:

A 13 year old can’t give informed consent. I’ve seen that written by commemters here many times but it seems to be forgotten now?!

No, that hasn’t been forgotten, as you’ll see if you read my comment (and others) above.

Anarchonist
Anarchonist
5 years ago

To clarify to anyone wondering: no one is expected to love the works of David Bowie any less because of his crime. He remains an influental artist and a remarkable human being. It is possible to adore his life and career while condemning his shitty acts. And yes, it is sad that the issue is brought to common light now of all times, but maybe there never was a good time to bring it up.

The point was not to hijack the discussion about Bowie’s genuine accomplishments. But since the point was raised, I just wanted to explain my personal reason for not joining in, I guess.

sparkalipoo
sparkalipoo
5 years ago

for what it’s worth, the sex was fully consensual. That doesn’t make it not statutory rape…

you do realize that there’s no such thing as “consensual rape”, so when you say “the sex was fully consensual” it means that you are saying that it’s not any type of rape, right?

Also, combining that with calling 14 year olds “men and women”, adds a whole extra “ew” factor to that because 14 year olds aren’t adults

LeftWingFox
LeftWingFox
5 years ago

This particular one from Bowie might be appropriate for the Infowars folks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPVrFIP0CMs

RIP Bowie.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
5 years ago

@LeftWingFox

Yesss one of my fav Bowie songs.

comment image

History Nerd
History Nerd
5 years ago

Almost every popular male musician was having sex with underage fans in the 1970’s. That doesn’t justify any of it. It shows our culture needed to change on that issue.

Kat
Kat
5 years ago

@Tanya

You weave a verbal tapestry of contradictions:

KAT – for what it’s worth, the sex was fully consensual. That doesn’t make it not statutory rape, but I would have lied, cheated and stolen to get into Jon Bon Jovi’s room at 14 and do teh nasty (or not so nasty!).

Fully consensual sex between an adult and a minor is still wrong and illegal.

Doesn’t mean it’s not a crime, but I don’t think society had really started talking about how power matters in relationships. That a teen who seems totally willing and even eager to have sex, probably should be stopped by the adult she or he is seeking to have sex with. I know that most rock stars had women throwing themselves in their rooms, and anything went. So it’s hard to put what could be argued “more enlightened” views on the day.

“Probably” should be stopped? The law (informed by psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and so on) says (then and now) “definitely should be stopped — and if you don’t, you might go to prison.”

That said, Bowie has said that many of the excesses, including drugs and sex, lead to bad choices, and once he realized what he was doing to himself and to others, he stopped.

That is to David Bowie’s credit.

Also said, I hold reservations taht 14 year old men and women don’t know what they want. I did. most of my friends did. and sometimes that was things that society said were no-no, like sex with hot (adult) men when we were 15 or 16.

Wut? Who calls 14-year-olds “men and women”? And, not incidentally, are you talking about 14-year-olds, 15-year-olds, or 16-year-olds? I ask because your argument wanders.

Also, who says that 14-year-olds don’t know what they want? No one, that’s who.

The question is not what minors want. It’s what adults should (and must!) do. Wanting sex with a rock star isn’t the same thing as having sex with a rock star.

RoscoeTCat
RoscoeTCat
5 years ago

What I wouldn’t have given to see Bowie perform live in ‘ 72! I saw him in concert in ’87…I’ve been a fan of his since I was in my early teens.

My favorite Bowie song, I think, is “Soul Love”. The Man Who Fell to earth is a favorite film of mine… Bowie completely embodied the title character.

I don’t really have anything to say about the stories of him sleeping with an underaged teen. It’s deplorable, if true.

anon
anon
5 years ago

Was the last guy opposing the homophobia or defending David Bowie from accusations of tolerance?

Olive O'Sudden
Olive O'Sudden
5 years ago

The girl/young woman in question was Lori Maddox. She could not legally give consent and this was a damn-creepy thing Bowie did.

http://www.debriefdaily.com/lifestyle/lori-maddox-i-lost-my-virginity-to-david-bowie/

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
5 years ago

@Olive

Ten years.

peaches
peaches
5 years ago

Chiming in with Olive. Yes, Bowie had sex with Lori Maddox and possibly Sable Starr as well. According to Please Kill Me, Sable said she had sex with him too.

For years, Lori Maddox denied it and said she lost her virginity to Jimmy Page. Now I see she’s changed her tune.

When I was younger and dumber I looked up to Sable and Lori. They still fascinate me in a way. How did their friendship work? Why did they chase after rock stars? Did one have more influence over the other or nope? There’s a story there neither one of them has written.

LG.
LG.
5 years ago

Here’s my thing right now: I feel quite comfortable with the fact that i find myself being charitable and forgiving in my *feelings* towards – NOT judgement of – a statutory rapist who… just died after 18 months of cancer.

The judgement of the monstrous wrongness of what he did is obvious, and I hope to hell if there were others who he hurt they can find what they need and who they need to believe them. But anger and disgust just fizzle out because on an average day, I don’t wish cancer on even the worst of sadistic predators. And the worst I usually see people here wish on the worst of people is stepping on Legos.

Bina
5 years ago

There is some (unverified, anecdotal) evidence floating around out there that Bowie’s attitude towards teenage groupies in his later years was very different; I read a story today passed on from a drummer of his who once thought it would be cool to give some teenage fans access to Bowie’s hotel room. The next morning, David confronted the drummer angrily and told him he’d never work again if he pulled a stunt like that again.

Now, who knows if that really happened and if it did, who knows if it was because Bowie felt guilty over the Lori Maddox thing or just because he didn’t want his privacy invaded? But it does make me think …

It always seems to me that it’s men and especially, anti-feminist men, who take this hard line of believing that a rapist (of any variety, including statutory)=inhuman monster worthy of hellish punishment and death. Not hard to see why: this has the effect of doing lip service to the idea that rape is bad while silencing victims anytime a perpetrator is clearly NOT an inhuman monster. Which is, you know, most of the time.

Meanwhile, of course, any man who rapes and then regrets it can’t actually *say* so without facing this same dehumanizing hatred. Even murderers don’t face such stigma. Can you imagine what a blow it would be against rape culture if someone like David Bowie could actually say, “I did this in my youth. It was wrong,” in a place where young men could hear him?

LG, thank you for this (and everything else you’ve said so far, which really resonates a lot with me). There’s a lot in this to unpack, so I’m gonna just say off the top of my head what it shook loose in me:

I really do hope that incident you mentioned at the top of your post proves to have been real; it would make a lot of difference to me, and to those of us who love his music and don’t want to stop appreciating him both for that and for his overall humanity.

It would also jibe with the impression I got about the whole Lori Maddox (or Mattix) incident, too, which is that, like the Nazi-salute controversy, it happened fairly early in his career, when he was still doing a lot of cocaine (and possibly other drugs as well). He later gave up the drug(s), and even went so far as to move to West Berlin in 1976 to stay away from anyone who might suck him back into that life, because he could see that addiction was destroying his mind (he was paranoid and malnourished, and scared shitless of the death he knew he’d face if he didn’t get clean). If that incident proves to be also due in part to the influence of drugs and his impaired judgment at the time, I won’t say it excuses it exactly, but it certainly would mitigate what I’d otherwise think of him. Especially if it transpires at some point that he thought it over soberly later on, and was genuinely contrite about the stupidity of it all.

It doesn’t strike me as a great coincidence that I came to know and love his music AFTER he got off drugs; not only because I was old enough to start appreciating it then (I was 12 when he came back from Berlin, in recovery, looking better, and sounding just amazing), but also because the style of his stuff changed. It was more thoughtful, less louche. “Ashes to Ashes”, in particular, has stuck with me, because it sounds like what he must actually have been thinking right before he made the decision to get clean. He made some great records during that three-year recovery period. Plus he branched out into acting soon after that, and then came his really big second wind in the ’80s, when 15-year-old me heard “Let’s Dance” and finally understood why the radio DJs were raving about him…

What I’m trying to get at, I guess, is that as wrong as it is for a 23-year-old to take advantage of a 15-year-old, I really do hope he regretted it, and took it as proof that he needed to get out of La La Land and get back to his better self. Just as I really do hope that John Lennon was contrite about all the wrongs he’d done to the women in his life when he and Yoko reconciled, and that the hopeful, growth-infused tone of Double Fantasy is the proof that he thought things through and became a better man (I’m thinking of the lyrics to “Woman”, in particular).

I say this because I’m really sick of all the vulturish noises I’m hearing from the more rabid radfem types (not coincidentally, all the “feminist” Bowie-hate I’ve seen so far comes from TERFs, who are ideologically less distant from MRAs than they think) that seem determined to paint all these guys as just unilaterally evil and awful, with absolutely nothing to redeem them. And who seem to get a nasty kick out of pissing all over those of us who DO think there are still redeeming qualities to these guys, even if they did do some shitty and inexcusable things early on in life. And who seem to want to lord this over the rest of us, as if it really does make them better feminists to renounce and hate what they used to enjoy, because reasons. Why, if they knew and were so concerned about all that, did they wait until AFTER his death to make such a ruckus about it? Why not BEFORE?*

I feel that since male privilege is learned, it can therefore be UNlearned, if one makes a sincere effort. Maybe not in the case of an obvious, hardcore pedophile like Gary Glitter, who doesn’t even think that he’s doing anything wrong, but a David Bowie, who navigated a greyer area and wasn’t so predatory in other relationships, and who showed general signs of being far more thoughtful, especially afterward? I like to think he did learn from his past blunders, and I really hope this was the case here. It would serve as a positive example to other guys who also have cause to sincerely regret some things they’ve done, and who want to learn to do better.

*I never even knew about Lori M. until yesterday, so I clearly have a lot of mental processing to do. I’m determined not to fall into the knee-jerk reaction trap, though. Sorry if I rambled, and thanks all for bearing with me.

Banananana dakry
Banananana dakry
5 years ago

This sounds horribly apologistic (?) of me… but people do learn and change, for better and for worse. Given he’d been married (happily, to all appearances) for over two decades to someone in his age bracket, I think it entirely possible Bowie at the end of his life could have been ashamed and repulsed by a lot of the actions of his much younger self. There also wasn’t a lot of thought during that time on how psychologically damaging to it would be to girls to have sex with them that age, no matter how willing they seemed, especially not in the world of 70’s rock.

And god, I don’t want to sound like I’m rationalizing or apologizing for his behavior. Yes, it was inexcusably skeevy, especially in the context of 2016, and I’m going ‘ew’ at the thought. It also, however, didn’t look like he was going specifically out of his way to look for underage girls to predate on, and as time went on Bowie left it off entirely. He did change his behavior.

Big fucking change from Cosby, who knowingly and intentionally looked for trusting women to drug and violate, did it for fucking decades, and got off on it. He himself had plenty of women throwing themselves at him, but he continued to drug and rape unwilling ones, which says volumes about how despicable he is. And he never fucking changed his behavior a damned bit.

I used to listen to his comedy and his stories growing up, and his routines used to be part of the usual whacked-out stream of consciousness dialogue my husband and I throw at each other and which passes for conversation in introverts like us. No more now. Ever. And I don’t blame Bill Cosby’s victims, I blame fucking Bill Cosby’s behavior for making what he created toxic to me today.

David Bowie, on the other hand, seemed like he learned. He did things that can’t be fixed, but he grew and matured beyond that.

Bina
5 years ago

Almost every popular male musician was having sex with underage fans in the 1970’s. That doesn’t justify any of it. It shows our culture needed to change on that issue.

YES. Exactly. And it IS changing, and that’s good. Let’s hope this incident serves as an impetus to keep that cultural change going.

Banananana dakry
Banananana dakry
5 years ago

This sounds horribly apologistic (?) of me… but people do learn and change, for better and for worse. Given he’d been married (happily, to all appearances) for over two decades to someone in his age bracket, I think it entirely possible Bowie at the end of his life could have been ashamed and repulsed by a lot of the actions of his much younger self. There also wasn’t a lot of thought during that time on how psychologically damaging to it would be to girls to have sex with them that age, no matter how willing they seemed, especially not in the world of 70’s rock.

And god, I don’t want to sound like I’m rationalizing away his behavior. Yes, it was inexcusably skeevy, especially in the context of 2016, and I’m going ‘ew’ at the thought. It also, however, didn’t look like he was going specifically out of his way to look for underage girls to predate on, and as time went on Bowie left it off entirely. He did change his behavior.

Big fucking change from Cosby, who knowingly and intentionally looked for trusting women to drug and violate, did it for fucking decades, and got off on it. He himself had plenty of women throwing themselves at him, but he continued to drug and rape unwilling ones, which says volumes about how despicable he is. And he never fucking changed his behavior a damned bit.

I used to listen to his comedy and his stories growing up, and his routines used to be part of the usual whacked-out stream of consciousness dialogue my husband and I throw at each other and which passes for conversation in introverts like us. No more now. Ever. And I don’t blame Bill Cosby’s victims, I blame fucking Bill Cosby’s behavior for making what he created toxic to me today, as much as I blame myself in my white-privleged world for feeling like I willingly was taken in by his seemingly benign public persona and ignoring the rapist shitlord underneath it.

David Bowie, on the other hand, seemed like he learned. He did things that can’t be fixed, but he grew and matured beyond that. And even though he did those things, we’ve still lost an irreplacable talent. As torn as I am on the whole subject, I still can’t dispute it, and I’m still mourning a bit.

God, but I’m torn.

*cough* Someone might wanna delete that dupe post of mine up there. I pressed the wrong button too early, my bad.

Banananana dakry
Banananana dakry
5 years ago

@Bina

I like how you put it, both Bowie’s change in behavior and the holier-than-thou pearl-clutching to his earlier behavior AFTER his death. Thanks.

Chaltab
Chaltab
5 years ago

Infowars is such a wretched hive of scum and stupidity. There are legitimate sins in David Bowie’s history, and I don’t mean to sweep them under the rug, but InfoWars stupid fantasy role-play wouldn’t know morals if they snuck up and bit them in the ass. What’s most disgusting is that they’ve recast Bowie as an evil wizard villain and *celebrate his death* to feel superior to him.

And they have the fucking nerve to call ‘his’ culture “Necrotic”.

Ugh I’ve put myself in a bad mood. Here, have a funny video instead:

katz
5 years ago

I would certainly like to think he grew as a person and regretted what he’d done. But the fact is we don’t know. Hell, we don’t even know that he stopped doing it. We only know that there aren’t any reported cases of statutory rape from later in his life.

And of course statutory rape is wrong even if he regretted it later, even if she wanted it, even if she wasn’t traumatized, even if all rock stars were doing it, even if things were different in the 70s, even if he wasn’t as bad as everyone else.

I do think there’s a difference between loving someone as a person and loving them as a concept, and that the latter does make it possible to still embrace the good parts of a person despite the bad parts in a way you couldn’t if he were your relative or something. Especially for someone like Bowie, whose persona was so performative — what he was and what he did in his personal life were so clearly distinct from the many aspects of him we saw onstage.

Plus, well, he isn’t hurting anyone now, nor can he apologize or make it right, nor are you supporting him and his actions by buying his albums and such. So in that sense it’s a simpler (but sadder) calculation.

If that’s all a bridge too far and you feel like his actions have tainted everything beyond redemption, that’s certainly very principled. But I don’t like to think that’s the only appropriate response. It makes me wonder if there are any rock musicians one ought to like if they’re judged by their behavior, or really any artists at all. And it makes me want to just never read anything about my favorite artists for fear I’ll find out something awful and have to stop liking them, and that doesn’t seem like a constructive attitude.

I don’t know. I’m just throwing out what I’ve been mulling over as I try to figure out how to respond. Thanks to everyone else who has shared their opinions — it’s been really helpful and I think you’ve all made really good points.

History Nerd
History Nerd
5 years ago

Yeah, Gary Glitter wouldn’t have been prosecuted for historical offenses if he only had sex with 14+ year old groupies. He kept getting into serious trouble because he was into child porn and having sex with people under 13. I don’t think someone would get a 16 year prison sentence in the UK for having sex with a 14-15 year old (without aggravating circumstances).

Though of course, not an excuse for Bowie’s behavior.

HeinzD
HeinzD
5 years ago

LG

“If I’m wrong about him being a child predator, I’ll totally own it when the evidence appears. Until then, I’ll continue to love him till Tuesday… and beyond.”

I can’t speak for anyone else, but you have my permission to love him no matter what. I think that’s a better position to take, honestly, because humans is humans and that means complicated, horrible, monstrous, problematic. And what I love about Bowie’s work (other than the musical innovation) is how unapologetically his songs portrayed this ambiguous messiness.

All that matters is not making excuses and always leaving room for survivors to speak their truth and find healing.

Thank you for shifting my world perspective about ten percent. I had grown tired of this seeming obsession people have with finding just about everyone (and everything) problematic but now I can see that we can love someone and still find their behaviour troubling. It’s the moment we excuse the behaviour because we love them that it becomes reeeeeeeaaalllly problematic.

It’s like I thought I was blind but it turns out I was just wearing a very big hat.

DS
DS
5 years ago

I, too, am a former Infowars listener. I think the addictive appeal of conspiracy theories is that when you believe most of what you see and hear is a lie, you always have a ready source of entertainment because you can sit there raging about how you’re being controlled, how there’s no truth, how “they” are out to get you, etc etc.

I am ashamed I used to listen to this total slop and I’m just glad I never have them a dime of my money.

Alex Jones is a joke of a reporter, being to the right what Mi hael Moore is to the left: a loud, sloppy man shouting into a bullhorn at people who probably wonder what the hell he’s talking about.

Anarchonist
Anarchonist
5 years ago

Warning: Incoming personal rant on David Bowie. Feel free to disregard if you love the man to bits.

After sleeping on it, I think I realized part of the reason why Bowie’s misdeeds are being discussed right now of all times, at least from my perspective: because Bowie is being discussed so much, and a lot of the discussion is ovewhelmingly positive. You literally can’t escape it. Your Facebook feed is full of mentions, the sites you visit link to his music, the discussion forums you frequent make the Bowie appreciation thread the most-read one, the webcomics you read are dedicating at least one update to Bowie, etc. People you meet are going to bring up David Bowie again and again because he made an impact on their lives. Again, not to say any of that is a bad thing per se.

But there are people who have trouble getting over the fact that he, like most rock stars of the era, did some really creepy shit. Some of these people may have a personal stake on the matter. To them, seeing the artist praised everywhere is reminding them of the reality that the creepy shit doesn’t ultimately matter in the eyes of the great public, that if a person is beloved by many, the fans will always rush in to defend them no matter what. The message seems to be that you are probably alone in having those feelings, and that you are expected to keep quiet about them because now’s not the time. And if you do end up saying something because holy shit nobody else shuts up about it for one fucking minute, then you’re a shit-stirrer who should have spoken up when the man was still alive. Because how dare you insinuate that a popular celebrity who just died may have done something that angers you.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is thanks, WHTM commentariat, for making it possible to celebrate the great things David Bowie did while not shying away from the fact that he was by no means perfect. I know there is probably no place else where I would dare to talk about my feelings on the matter.

Also, fuck Jimmy Page. I’m just going to say that now while he’s still alive.

/rant

Ktoryx
Ktoryx
5 years ago

I think it’s relevant to this (refreshingly nuanced and open-minded) discussion to note Bowie’s public persona as an early queer icon and public gender-bending performer. With any artist who has a strong appeal to left-leaning values (interrogating questions of identity while normalizing all kinds of different expressions of sex and gender rather than restricting them into a rigid box) there is often a resistance to seeing them as fallible or admitting the possibility that they may have done wrong.

It’s partly, in my opinion, a fear of the oppressive, conservative judgements hanging over our heads; when gay men are stereotyped as sexual predators, we feel a protective urge to deny anything, even things that may be true, that may be used as evidence to bolster that bigotry. It’s partly the desire for inspiration and leadership on the left – an icon like Bowie did a lot for our culture’s attitudes towards sex and gender, and it’s not wrong to want to believe in that icon, to see him as a pioneer and a good man because it is, frankly, just comforting. And, it’s partly just good old-fashioned tribalism: he is One of Us.

There is always a faction of the left that loves these figures right up until some fall from grace or other, when they instantly loathe them. He was One of Us, and he failed us! We need to distance ourselves from him as firmly and loudly as possible, so he does not pollute the movement! They did it with Bob Dylan, they did it with Ani Difranco, and there are many on the web who are doing it with Bowie now.

It’s interesting that these traits are so often seen in the most hard-line members of the left, because they are deeply conservative traits; the desire to see members of your tribe morally superior to the “Other,” the desire for a leader figure to tell you how to think, to take on the work of making the world better so you are relieved of that burden.

I think the unglamorous heart of progressivism is often missed because it doesn’t sell well or make good clickbait-ey headlines, but in my opinion, here it is: we’re all messed up little humans, there is no saviour coming to fix everything for us, so if we want it fixed we all must fix it ourselves, working away in our small, individual, local ways to make the future a little brighter.

I’m truly gratified to see so many people who are willing to have nuanced discussions rather than defaulting to either hero-worship or public shaming. Those are conservative values. We must neither let these figures off the hook, nor turn them into effigies to be burned. Neither option leaves any possibility for growth or learning. Acknowledging the complexity of the world with an eye towards making it better, to me that is a progressive value.

Anyway, that was just my lofty, pompous two cents.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
5 years ago

@Anarchonist

I get what you’re saying, but he’s only been dead for two days. I’m not sure if that’s enough time to be tired of being bombarded with stuff but, yeah, you’re right. That’s that justifiable anger I was talking about.

Orion
Orion
5 years ago

Thank you all for being the wise and humane community that you are. Bina said pretty much what I would have wanted to say, so I think I can leave it there. Ironically, before I got to her comment, I was debating whether to post anything, because I feared judgment — ironically, I had worried that Bina herself might judge me for the sentiments it turns out she shares.

So double-props to you, Bina. Well said.

Ddog
Ddog
5 years ago

I’ve felt the same way about Bowie for a long time. Since I read about it. I guess the reason I bring it up now is because people are talking about him.

Thank you Kat for putting the problems I had with that portion of the discussion so well. Yes referring to underage age people as adults does reek of apologetics and bothered me a lot in this context! You put this better than I could have.

I guess this upsets me a lot because I look around and see people jumping through hoops to defend him because he was such an icon. I don’t think that the argument that now he’s dead and not hurting anyone now means we can’t be troubled by this.

I guess I just see it as a continuation of a horrible cycle. Beloved figure commits rape, its glossed over for reasons including time frame, they seemed sorry later, there are radfems complaining about it(?)….maybe its because I’m going through a very bad time at the minute and I tend to not be able to think things like this through properly when I am but I’m very muddled as to what a lot of peoples opinions are.

Apologies if I just seem to be shit stirring, this is a big triggering emotional mess for me and I find this is the only forum where there is a nuanced and understanding conversation about it occurring.

Kat
Kat
5 years ago

@Ddog

Thank you Kat for putting the problems I had with that portion of the discussion so well. Yes referring to underage age people as adults does reek of apologetics and bothered me a lot in this context!

My pleasure.

FWIW, I try to separate the artist from his or her work. If I didn’t, I’d have to do lots of research before I listened to a song or looked at a painting.

That said, I won’t buy some artists’ work because I feel that they’ve done truly awful things that they haven’t apologized for and society is turning a blind eye. But my approach is a highly subjective one.

Ghost Robot
Ghost Robot
5 years ago

Jon Ronson’s book “Them: Adventures With Extremists” has a chapter where he and Jones infiltrate the Bilderberg Group, and arrive at wildly clashing interpretations of the group’s rituals. To Ronson, it’s a glorified frat initiation, and nothing more, but to an apoplectic Jones, it’s arcane, monstrous, satanic black magick, blah, blah, blah…

There’s also a chapter where Jones accuses the telephone company employee who accidentally knocks out his internet during a broadcast of working for the NWO.

So yeah, not one of the great thinkers of our time.

Ddog
Ddog
5 years ago

Yes I totally understand that there is a lot to be said for separating an artist from their work. And that it is subjective. For example, I can’t buy any of Polanski’s for because of his crimes. I also refuse to watch Sean Penn’s movies. I just used to get really muddled and angry about myself because I don’t do that with other artists, like Bowie. Thank you Kat and others, the conversation here has kind of helped me with something that’s always bothered me and couldn’t really make sense of.

Yay for mammothers 🙂

Anarchonist
Anarchonist
5 years ago

@Ktoryx

Very well put. I think your post also communicates perfectly why I think the word ‘hero’, when referring to non-fictional people, is inherently problematic: it carries the implication of infallibility. Referring to someone as a hero just seems to me like it’s describing a person’s inherent quality rather than the impact of their actions.

Personally, I prefer the term ‘inspiration’, which I don’t think anyone can deny David Bowie was for many people. To me, that word also carries the connotation that it was their actions, not their inherent traits, that made them what they are. Maybe that’s just me, though.

@Pandapool

Yeah, maybe ‘tired’ is not the word I’d use. ‘Overwhelmed’ or even ‘triggered’ may be closer to my meaning. Essentially, I’d have to cut off entirely from the rest of the world to not see someone gushing over how amazing and perfect Bowie was and shut up if you don’t agree. Could be that I have more Bowie-dedicated friends than the average person, though.

@Kat

Exactly. If we couldn’t enjoy a piece of art because of the problematic things their creator did or believed in, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy a lot of things. At least Bowie didn’t (to my knowledge at least, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) celebrate his shittier sides in his music, so the art can be enjoyed on its own merits without having to roll one’s eyes every two minutes*.

*Case in point: H.P. Lovecraft, whose terrible racist and xenophobic views are explicit as all hell in most of his writings. It’s really quite painful to read at times.

Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ ghost robot

Have you read Jon’s latest stuff about shaming on the internet? Topically enough it also covers being impersonated on Twitter.

Nequam
Nequam
5 years ago

@Anarchonist: you’re not kidding about Lovecraft, and the hell of it is that the deep-seated state of fear he lived in was probably what gave power to his horror writings above and beyond the xenophobic and racist stuff. (“The Colour Out of Space” mercifully has neither and is increasingly my favorite story of his.)

History Nerd
History Nerd
5 years ago

Alex Jones gets a lot of viewers from the far left because they share his conspiratorial mindset. He usually stays away from extreme bigotry. I’d guess he’s more popular than people like Rush Limbaugh.

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard
5 years ago

These people wish they had half the talent Bowie had. While jackasses like Hamamoto, Jones, Milo, Roosh the Doosh, Elam, and the rest of the gross pile fade into obscurity and from people’s consciousness, people like Bowie will be remembered for generations to come. Long live Bowie!

LG.
LG.
5 years ago

“I love this observation.”

Thank you, Katz. David Bowie didn’t conceive of or write Labyrinth, but he did write those songs for it, assuming the character as well as he always did. I find myself re-examining the lyrics to “Underground” and “As The World Falls Down,” and thinking of the impact those songs had in the course of the story. They’re pretty beautifully evil and honest as the Goblin King basically tells her he’s going to use her, hurt her, confine her, rewrite her…but using such beautiful words to say it.

I know it gave me many feels as a teenage girl. And the ultimate message of the movie ended up being all the more powerful for it.

In my idealized, imaginary world that has a fair and societally-useful standard of justice, people would do shit to fix the problems they had been a part of. So basically, I’d have wanted Bowie to use his fame and talent to make a kickass movie about how creepy men who try to seduce 14-year-olds are bad news even when they’re super sexy.

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
5 years ago

In my idealized, imaginary world that has a fair and societally-useful standard of justice, people would do shit to fix the problems they had been a part of. So basically, I’d have wanted Bowie to use his fame and talent to make a kickass movie about how creepy men who try to seduce 14-year-olds are bad news even when they’re super sexy.

This is the best thing that’s been said all day. Thank you, LG.

Ghost Robot
Ghost Robot
5 years ago

@Alan – I sure have. A very good read it is, too. Very timely indeed.

PinkiSyddyKitty
PinkiSyddyKitty
5 years ago

Y’know; When I hear the rants of wingnuts about the Illuminati, I’m convinced that the Illuminati are actually the GOOD guys!

About Bowie; I echo what Kat says. If a person has shown deep regret and repentance of a vile past act and sticks with that repentance, then that person can still be respected.

If folks restricted entertainment to people who are totally blameless, we wouldn’t have much to be entertained by and not all deeds, be they good or bad, are created equal….a guy who fooled around with teen groupies a few times and deeply regrets it afterwards is a lot different than an unrepentant serial rapist (of adults or kids) who won’t accept responsibility and continues….and revels….in their awfulness.

I’m a huge fan of Syd Barrett and practically worship the guy. However, during his mental breakdown, he started abusing the women in his life. I don’t like that one bit. That said, his earliest girlfriends emphatically state that he was a sweet guy and never abused them. I just chalk his abusiveness up to his psychological issues talking rather than him as a person. I hate to think of him as an abuser, though.

Orion
Orion
5 years ago

I’m still sorting through my feelings about this, but here’s something I’m trying to process:

A lot of us have speculated about how Bowie might have felt about this, years and decades down the line. I’m wondering if we ought to consider the way the girl in question came to feel about it, as well. According to the article everyone’s linking, she says she has no regrets and looks back on him fondly.

That, of course, doesn’t mean he wasn’t doing something wrong; but as a matter of emotional reaction, though, it feels somewhat mitigating. Criminal law judges people by the consequences of their actions as well as by their intent as their choices. Get caught driving drunk and you pay a fine; hit someone driving drunk and you go to prison. It might be pure good fortune that separates those two drivers, but that fortune changes the way the law treats them. For better or worse, I also changes the way society judges them. I guess I’m wondering whether it IS for better or if it IS for worse.

The other thing about judgment-by-consequence is that it’s not wholly irrational. I think we sometimes use outcomes as a proxy for aspects of intent or action that we otherwise can’t access. We assume the drunk driver who hit someone was probably more impaired and more reckless than the one who didn’t. Similarly, I would think that the statutory rapist whose victim looks back with horror likely behaved in a more selfish and predatory way than the one whose victim looks back fondly.

When it comes to evaluating his legacy, intuitively it feels like the echoes of his actions are relevant. Should I be trying to quash that intuition?

katz
5 years ago

David Bowie didn’t conceive of or write Labyrinth, but he did write those songs for it, assuming the character as well as he always did. I find myself re-examining the lyrics to “Underground” and “As The World Falls Down,” and thinking of the impact those songs had in the course of the story. They’re pretty beautifully evil and honest as the Goblin King basically tells her he’s going to use her, hurt her, confine her, rewrite her…but using such beautiful words to say it.

And the whole story starts because she asks him to do something that she’s sure she wants, but as soon as he does it, she realizes it wasn’t actually what she wanted at all.

(I also think Chilly Down is underappreciated. Yes, it’s pretty random, but that whole movie is pretty random, and it’s thematically relevant.)

NateHevens
5 years ago

First, I want to thank everyone for the tone of this discussion. I’ve been seeing a lot of excusing and dismissing what Bowie did to Lori Maddox, to the point where I had to rant on Facebook that adults should not be having sex with children, and that this has always been true regardless of what decade it is and/or what society says.

I know this internal rift well because Led Zeppelin is my all-time favorite band (I don’t just waste what little, hard-earned money I have on official Led Zeppelin music and collectibles, but I also collect [though usually for free] unofficial stuff, including unreleased shows and studio outtakes and sessions as well) and Jimmy Page is the reason I play guitar. But someone above said “fuck Jimmy Page”, and I have no choice but to agree.

I think it’s entirely possible that Lori’s interaction with Bowie groomed her for what happened with Page. And worse, since Jimmy Page is currently dating a woman in her 20s, who also happens to have the same name as his daughter (Scarlet; who is in her 40s), Page, (probably) unlike Bowie, doesn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with what he did in his life (except maybe the drugs).

I can actually believe that Bowie regretted it… that he hated what happened and sought to distance himself from it. Page clearly doesn’t.

Sadly, I’ve only recently started getting in to Bowie (before his last/most recent album was even announced), and since I largely can’t stand the music of the 80’s in general, there’s a large chunk of his work that isn’t really my style. But the stuff of his that I do love is beyond incredible… it’s some of the best music I’ve ever heard.

And I actually feel less guilty about liking Bowie’s music than I do about being inspired by Jimmy Page, because I can believe that Bowie regretted it, whereas I’m positive Page doesn’t. The best I can do is separate the people from the music, and now I tell people that I love the music of Led Zeppelin, and that it was the idea of playing a guitar with a violin bow and some of the most amazing riffs and solos I’ve ever heard that inspired me.