Nowadays the world has gone PC mad. Everybody is forced to toe the line, lest they offend, "trigger," or commit "micro-aggressions." And if they do, they are required to beg forgiveness – even rock stars, those wild shamanistic figures we reared up in the 1960s and 70s through our appreciation of the Dionysian aspects of a fast-mutating musical culture.
But what about David Bowie? His great 'sin' – by the dim PC lights of today – was his obvious interest in Nazism, as shown in his interviews, lyrics, and stage imagery. Why hasn't more been made of this? Why has he been let off the hook?
Back in his 1970s heyday, he gleefully told reporters that "Hitler was the first pop star" and declared that "the best thing that can happen is for an extreme right government to come." In his 1971 song Quicksand, he wrote, "I’m living in a silent film/ portraying Himmler’s sacred realm/ of dream reality." Then there is his 1977 composition and 1983 hit China Girl:
"I stumble into town, just like a sacred cow/But Bowie has gone even further than that. There are also famous pictures of him waving and sieg heiling form an open-top black Mercedes of the kind that Hitler used.
Visions of Swastikas in my head, plans for everyone."
|Communism killed 100 million |
but all I got was this lousy
Manic Street Preachers T-shirt.
But, given the hysteria that surrounds such symbols as the Confederate flag today, and the totalitarian "zero tolerance" attitude of political correctness, it is still a little surprising that the PC bigots have left Bowie and his legacy alone.
Why is this? Probably it is due to a combination of factors. His age, his Black wife, and his past bisexuality and androgyny make him an awkward target for SJWs to attack. But it is also no doubt due to the powerful lawyers and PR managers that Bowie and his record company deploy. One example of clever PR management is the often encountered excuse that appears to have been planted in rock histories that anything "unfortunate" he may have said was simply due to the fact that he was a druggie, living on "coke, red pepper and milk."
This is not the kind of excuse an average member of the public would get away if they twittered or shared similar words or imagery on their Facebook pages. But what is a rock star if he cannot exist beyond the taboos that circumscribe the rest of us? Answer: a mere musician with an interesting hair cut (and sometimes not even that!). But has PC exacted a cost on Bowie? While some will say that his talent declined simply because of age, or because he burnt out his brain with drugs, I would entertain the possibility that it may be related to the growing intolerance of our age. His dip in creativity almost perfectly matches the growing imposition of political correctness in the 1980s and 90s.
Revenge of Riff Raff
13th July, 2015