When Bowie Broke the Internet

The many alter egos that were David Bowie remain an enigma to us all and even himself. In a 1999 interview with Jeremy Paxman, a renowned journalist for the BBC, Bowie broke down several enigmas and predictions that had yet to be confirmed. Before watching this interview, I too, felt I had much left to uncover. In fact, I’ve been called an enigma myself. But after getting the breakdown on all things Bowie, some things in life are meant to be left to the imagination.

Bowie started off thinking he would write musicals for a living. Soon after creating Ziggy Stardust, Bowie’s career opportunities at the time were slim. He then chose to play the character himself and claimed he was a “natural performer”. Luckily, he felt more comfortable going on stage as someone else, continuing his creation of characters.

By the late 70’s, his characters began getting in the way of his writing and so he transitioned to a career as a singer/songwriter. In the 80’s, Bowie realized much of who he was stemmed from his many enthusiasms and that it was not up to him to try and identify what that meant. He had always been a very curious and enthusiastic person since he was a teenager. Bowie eventually became comfortable with himself after accepting his short-attention span and reoccurring boredom.  

“The less questioning, I did about myself as to who I was, the more comfortable I felt”, said Bowie. Similarly, I have come to realize that the less I try to understand the more comfortable with myself I’ve become. Afterall, growth does not derive from comfort, but instead from our conscience. 

Bowie moved on to further discuss the Internet and its effects on the music industry. He then predicted, “The potential of what the Internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable. I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying”. 

Paxman responds, “It’s just a tool though, isn’t it?” As a millennial, I would have asked what in his narrow mindset gave him the audacity to undermine the future of technology? I digress.

“No. It’s an alien life form. Is there life on Mars? Yes, it’s just landed here,” Bowie exclaimed to Paxman. “The actual context and state of content is going to be so different to anything we envisioned at the moment. Where the interplay between the user and the provider will be so in simpatico it’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about. It’s happening in every form.” 

The Internet decades from now, can you picture it? Bowie did. Mind you, this was back when internet navigation consisted of dial-up connections that brought you to text-heavy websites.

In 1999, the potentially catastrophic computer crisis, Y2K, lowered our expectations of computers and coding. 

However, Bowie looked beyond the barriers of coding and predicted a different type of revolution. A revolution where online fandoms take center stage. He saw the potential for artists and audiences of all forms to communicate with one another. After launching his own internet service provider, “BowieNet”, the importance of fandom online became increasingly prevalent to the media. A social network centered around music produced years before the arrival of Facebook. 

“That grey space in the middle is what the 21st century is going to be about,” said Bowie. The ‘grey space in the middle’ may just be another enigma left undetermined, but was Ziggy right, or what?

May we look to future innovations with open minds and optimism as we navigate through our own ‘grey space in the middle’. In life, there are many things that appear mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand, even so may we accept the beauty in the demystification of our surroundings, ourselves and ultimate possibilities.

As Bowie once said, “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring”. 

20th Century Women vs. 21st Century Women

The constant itch we feel in isolation as we try not to sit idle in our homes. Thoughts of working out, daily walks, house cleaning and healthy snacks keep talking in our heads. Truthfully, what’s in your hand(s) right now? Are you taking more time to check Twitter or Facebook for tangents and retweets than you’re willing to admit? On an array of social media platforms, I have seen more tangents regarding personal aggravations due to COVID-19 than I have seen positive actions taken to combat this pandemic. Summer of 2020 is less than two months away and I hope “for the love of God” that at least half of us women can find the strength of a 20th century woman in all of us.

The 2016 comedy-drama film, 20th Century Women, written and directed by Mike Mills was based in part on his childhood. The film made me reflect on the women who played such vital roles in my childhood. The same women who have helped shape me into the woman I am today.

Annette Bening’s resilient, performance as 55-year old Dorothea exemplified attributes from both of my grandmother’s and my own mom. Dorothea like my Grandma Ruth (maternal grandmother) grew up during “The Great Depression”, had a 15-year old son when she was 55-years old and sported around Birkenstocks well into her old age. She had more natural beauty than Dorothea’s character is intended to portray but she had every bit of strength and work ethic as Dorothea. Grandma Ruth grew up in a greenhouse with an alcoholic, abusive father. In 1942, she lost her eldest brother in World War 2 and was voted best smile in her Senior yearbook. Below her yearbook picture reads, “when Ruth smiles, the whole world smiles back”.

She went on to have a beautiful marriage and seven children (my mom being number six). She spent 20 years as a missionary in Africa after her husband of 39 years passed away due to brain cancer. Dorothea and Grandma Ruth’s livelihoods don’t share all the same traits, but the resilience in Annette Bening’s performance is something I’ve been grateful to witness firsthand. 

My Nana (paternal grandmother) like Dorothea chain-smoked her whole life and didn’t start thinking twice about it until her early fifties. She was a Chicago native and one of three girls. Her father was Chief of Police of Riverside, Illinois. She battled with many of life’s guilty pleasures and did so unapologetically. She was badass, man. Looking back now I see how unfortunate circumstances followed from divulgent behaviors, but like the saying goes “You only live once so live it up”.

Her aesthetic permeated my clothes with Marlboro lights and Chanel number 5 and I adored it. She taught me to never apologize for what I think or how I feel. Her best piece of advice is when she sat me down looked me square in the eyes and told me, “If there is one thing you never stop doing, don’t YOU ever stop telling it like it is”. That my friends and fellow readers is better than any shitty fortune cookie you could’ve gotten at Panda Express.

A resilient mindset is something so many of us women growing up in the 21st century have forgotten. May we reflect and remind ourselves of a time more dignified than today. 

I encourage you to watch the film on Netflix. You won’t regret it! 

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