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Do we get so star struck, that we often let go off our star, lightly for heinous crimes, like David Bowie, who was a sex offender?
Like the thousands of fans that were left speechless at the news, I too was unoriginally heart-stricken. At the age of 69, David Bowie was leaving behind a mark in history that could never be erased: his lyrics had helped many including me find, and accept themselves; to ‘turn and face the strange’, as he poetically put it.
It was only a few hours after his death did I come to know that the legacy he was leaving behind was tainted: with the stains of statutory rape, and sex with underage parties.
I doubt I would be able to do justice to how much this impacted me. This was a man I had worshiped since I discovered one of his albums, and the amount of respect and sheer adoration I had for him only grew. He was so much more than a music artist; he was a revolutionary idol, he was a change maker. He was a source of comfort.
The Starman, who had publicly come out and embraced his bisexuality when it was bizarre, had rape accusations against his name. The same man who dated a transgender proudly at a time when transphobia was at his peak.
The same wildly different, unique and bold man, whose words, had always felt like they were being spoken to me.
What was even more unsettling, perhaps, was the reaction of the public towards such significant accusations. Some chose to find bliss in their ignorance, and merely steered themselves away from it. They were content in remembering him for who he was to them, and so went on, unperturbed. This did not feel right to me. Imagine the plight of the survivors of this issue everywhere. Here was a man who had committed a crime that they had been a victim of, and not only was society wholeheartedly welcoming him, they were idolizing him. Worshiping him. What was the point of their struggle?
Others, however, immediately jumped bandwagon. Suddenly, Bowie was a misogynist, a shame to mankind everywhere. This single action of his seemed to erase everything else that had preceded and followed. That did not feel right, either.
If he had been as disgusting a man as you suddenly label him to be, how had his career thrived? How come the issue was being publicly spoken of only after his death?
In the case of celebrities, of people we look up to, it would be naive to think we are unbiased. Such accusations are ignored, and they resurface posthumously. It’s entirely pointless, and sadly, it’s a cycle. We previously observed it with Michael Jackson, and now, it was Bowie’s turn.
Where does this leave the fans, though? Where does it leave people like me? Our conscience doesn’t let us look past his actions; our hearts won’t let us forget his art.
David Bowie was a visionary in more ways than one, and he deserves to remembered so. That doesn’t mean we get to erase his actions altogether, however.
His death was what started and stirred such important questions, but that shouldn’t have been the case. Rather than doing a post-mortem on the characters of people after they’ve passed away, perhaps, we should just get bolder and refuse to excuse celebrities of their actions when they’re still alive: when they can own up to it, and when they can redeem themselves for it.
This has been a bit of an awakening for me. All these days, I’ve had the option of looking at Bowie from the light I’m looking at today. It might be too late for me to do that with him now, but it isn’t too late for the others.
Perhaps,what I need to do is ‘turn and face the strange’, even.
Cover image via Facebook
A feminist whose idea of feminism is not just fighting for equality but also telling
Brilliant analysis!! Stardom is often seen as a reward a person earns for the display of a unique talent. It is also, often, nothing more than a stroke of pure luck that one’s unique talent may receive due recognition!! Yet the rose tinted glasses we use to view the star and the undying loyalty, glory and fame we recklessly heap on a favourite star with complete blindness or ignorance of the human frailty he/she may carry, is our own doing !! Like you have rightly pointed out Harshitha, the “fan” culture which elevates the human to a God-like pedestal seeks to obliterate the human-ness of the human inside the star. Often fans are unwilling to be honest to themselves, preferring to live in an illusion that their star can do no wrong, often leading to dangerous consequences. The heady combination of success and fame is psychologically a very intoxicating potion- it fuels the star to grow more isolated in an ivory tower of power and glory – so out of touch with reality to the extent that he/she feels invincible. They may then slowly begin to exploit their status to get away with more and more illicit sometimes even criminal deeds, with no sense of introspection or fear. Still worse they may have little remorse or regret of the harm they can cause!!
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