Face to Face with the Man Who Changed The World

Post by TM

I was born in the eighties and learned about life in the nineties. When I was old enough to realise my own taste, I vocally loved the Spice Girls and embraced their notion of Girl Power. (Life lesson of Girl Power – you don’t care to admit you liked the Spice Girls and embraced their notion of Girl Power.)

Despite the fall of the Celtic Tiger and the shit it’s caused, my generation in this country are still lucky; we grew up free. Free to do what we wanted to do and, more importantly, to be who we wanted to be.

The generation that came after mine seem to have even more freedom (if 21 Jump Street has thought me anything), freedom of choice: clothes, friends, lifestyle, sex.

David Bowie died aged 69 this week so he is far from the present generation of trend setters. All the same, in a few hundred years time when historians are putting together personas for each age of time, our age is likely to look like Bowie. Or Tilda Swinton.

David Bowie
1976: David Bowie poses for an RCA publicity shot in 1976. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Last week, I wrote a post on Jaden Smith and his penchant for so-called women’s clothes. The young Hollywood off-spring does not give any f*cks about what he wears – why the hell should he? – but while the fashion world mostly applauded his being hired as the face of Louis Vuitton womenswear, other modern people, Twitter users and commenters on sites like the Daily Mail, practically puked all over their keyboards. They certainly vomitted their vitriol all over the public forums. Had they forgotten that in 1970 Bowie proudly and elegantly sported a dress on the cover of his The Man Who Sold The World LP?

the man who sold the world

This version of Bowie was the first sign of a true icon – of style, music and history in general. Bowie invented and performed through different alter egos but whether he was channeling Ziggy Stardust or The Thin White Duke or broadening his range and becoming the characters he portrayed on screen (did he play Jareth, the Goblin King or was he Jareth, the Goblin King?) he didn’t as much reinvent but evolve.


What wouldn’t there be without David Bowie and his psychedelic, androgynous, face-painted, mulleted story of style? Not the millions of people who drew lightning patterns on their faces today and listened to his back catalogue on loop all day today since news of his death.

I can’t say that David Bowie alone changed society but his spirit, magnetised by popular culture, certainly influenced a new wave of creativity and inspired countless artists of all mediums.  And with that, inspired ordinary people to see beyond their normality. If a pale, thin Englishman could play dress up and be considered a genius for fifty years or so, there’s hope for us all.


David Bowie 1947 – 2016

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