David Bowie: Time to Mourn or Call Out?

Every other week, I co-lead an all-gender process and support group. Last night, one of our topics of discussion was, of course, David Bowie. Some of the people in the room felt displaced, distraught by his death. In this intergenerational space we held those who grew up knowing David Bowie was a big deal already as well as those who grew up along with David Bowie and saw his career take off. In this space, we shared stories of the personal meanings of his life as well as the confusing feelings left in his wake as some of us discovered information about his abuses and problematic behaviors. Yesterday, all throughout social media, I saw countless stories shared of how David Bowie’s music touched a million queer and trans people of varying races, ages, and countries. I have seen my newsfeed inundated with people’s shock and memories, with the ways in which he inspired them in ways they did not even know until he passed, with the ways he changed music, science fiction, and gender.

And yesterday is also when I found out about the rape allegations against him (that were cleared by a jury, but I also know that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen) and the facts of his statutory rape of a 14/15-year-old. And so my feed has also been ripe with explosive anger as well as nuanced discomfort, frustration, and exhaustion.

David Bowie and J. C. in Labyrinth Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection / Getty Images

David Bowie and J. C. in Labyrinth Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection / Getty Images

So what am I, a gender/queer Latinx, supposed to feel and do about this cultural icon? As someone who has worked for years on preventing and dealing with sexual assault and abuse? As someone who teaches on consent and believes in the incredible power and knowledge of youth as well as the incredible vulnerability of the teen years? As someone who sees White stars get a pass for things that celebrities of color get crucified for? As someone who works with many people feeling intense things about David Bowie’s death? As someone who grew up watching Labyrinth way more than should’ve been allowed but still did not feel the connection to Bowie that so many others do?

And how should others feel? The survivors of sexual abuse and assault hearing the streams of praise for someone accused of rape? The queer and trans kids of yesteryear for whom David Bowie’s music became a lifeline, became a hope when they considered suicide? The people living at that intersection? I don’t ask this because I have the ultimate answers or get off on telling others what to do (I mean, maybe, but that’s another story), but because we need to have the discussion and figure out where we stand and what that means.

Help: Feelings Are Hard and Complicated!

Our reluctance to have an honest and open conversation about the flaws of celebrities we love stems from a simple fact: we see ourselves in them. If your favorite smart, talented, successful celebrity can be classist, sexist or racist then what does that say about you? Well, it says that you can be classist, sexist, racist, homophobic, or transphobic.

But you can and you are at least some of these things sometimes. So am I. Own it. Learn from it. It’s not an attack, it’s the truth. Nobody is a perfect example of civil rights virtue. If you aren’t screwing up, you aren’t trying.

– Ijeoma Oluo

For those who are not mourning David Bowie: We can and must critique deplorable actions regardless of who is committing them. We must also acknowledge space for people’s grief, and respect the very real pain felt by people when in mourning. This does not mean erase people’s problematic, terrifying, horrible, disgusting, whatever actions. It means respect the fact that many people are feeling sadness. Bowie is dead; the people we should hold in kindness are those that feel the loss. It does not mean we have to mourn, erect banners, engage in commentary that doesn’t feel authentic to us. It does not mean we shouldn’t feel our feelings and get enraged at the ways the media perpetuate rape culture and gloss over issues we care about. It does mean we should allow for space to exist where people who are sad and hurt can congregate and feel their feelings. It means we should find those who are in a similar spot as us and vent our rage at this situation and David Bowie’s actions but not at the expense of those who are mourning.

Are we critiquing Bowie or his fans? Are we centering the cultural object or the person? Are we critiquing the abuses he committed or the fact that people can have big, complex feelings about it and are mourning his death? Are we critiquing how certain stars get so much praise upon their death and get their sins wiped away, but certain stars don’t? Are we critiquing how, due to ignorance and White supremacy, many mourn the loss of a White star and ignore the losses of countless people of color at the hands of police brutality? Are we critiquing people’s sadness to get cool points for not feeling anything? Are we assuming people can’t feel multiple things at once?

We must think about our audience and the impact of our words on our communities. We must think about the intersections and how we highlight or erase them. We must ask ourselves why we are raising our voice and in service of what.

hunky-dory-sessions david bowie

For those who are mourning David Bowie: We have a right to time and space to grieve, to heal, to reminisce, to do whatever we have to do to feel whole. And we must not use our grief as a way to silence survivors of sexual abuse, even if we are survivors ourselves. We must remember that we do not have to immediately engage in a discussion of the problematic aspects of David Bowie with strangers (or even friends) if it feels too raw. We eventually must, however, engage with these and incorporate them into our understanding of Bowie because he was an icon but also a person. We should allow space for the pain of those who have experienced abuse and been repeatedly silenced, especially because so many have been abused by people like Bowie, by people in positions like his and with followings like his, and people have looked the other way “because they have done so much good for the community.” It means we should find those who are in a similar spot as us and air out our feelings in ways that feel helpful but not at the expense of acknowledging rape culture and abuse.

Are we conflating our mourning of Bowie the person with Bowie-what-the-icon-and-the-music-meant-to-us (and thus really mourning a piece of ourselves and our world)? Are we mourning in a way that erases all wrongdoing and promotes Bowie as a perfect cyborg of queer and trans visibility? Are we ignoring the impact of race, age, and money in these discussions? Are we mourning in a public forum and keeping eerily silent about the ways in which David Bowie abused his power? Are we mourning for David Bowie and ridiculing or ignoring the mourning for countless lives lost in places like Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq?

We must think about our audience and the impact of our words on our communities. We must think about the intersections and how we highlight or erase them. We must ask ourselves why we are raising our voice and in service of what.

OUR FAV IS PROBLEMATIC (#SorryNotSorry, David Bowie)

We tend to hold the people of whom we are fans to the same moral standards we hold friends, often expecting them to echo our politics or sensibilities in the same way that their art, whatever it may be, speaks to us. By definition, fame requires those on the outside looking in to rely on imagination to prop up celebrity narratives; the public’s glimpses into the lives and personalities of the famous are so mediated that though we think we know, we have no idea. Fame encourages us to fill in the blank spaces around these people with what we want to see, with what reaffirms our pre-existing assumptions. It’s no surprise, then, that when it comes to art we like, and to the artists who make it, we expect to see reflections of ourselves in them, even on the simplest of levels.

– Rawiya Kameir

Understanding that “our faves are problematic“is not a carte-blanche to excuse people from their wrongdoing because “everyone is problematic” (and trust me, there are a lot of examples/receipts showing that most of the people we like have shoved their foot in their mouth pretty deeply). We still have a matter of degrees and impact. And we must also remember that a mentality of “kill all people who do anything wrong ever” won’t get us anywhere in the long run. We can both remember and forgive as a people. We can hold folks accountable and keep them with us. We can remember, not forgive, and still move forward. We have options.

David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust

Most of us know of Bowie as an icon, as a rocker, an artist, an actor, a pioneer—a larger than life concept—rather than Bowie as a living, breathing individual. We have to contend with the fact that the human Bowie (not the persona he crafted or what he meant to us or what his music did for our souls and survival) abused his power and privilege.

It can be difficult and scary and destabilizing to hold the reality of loving someone and/or thinking they’ve done amazing things with the realities of those same people doing horrible things, but that’s how the world is. This is what intersectionality is all about—about understanding the ways our intersecting identities make up our privileges and oppressions, about the complex ways in which our experiences and pieces form our whole.

Just like the queer and trans people who aren’t survivors of sexual abuse/assault should acknowledge the pain coming from survivors, straight and cisgender survivors should acknowledge the pain coming from queer and trans people. And those at the intersections—the queer and trans survivors—who feel confused as hell and torn (or staunchly on one side of the fence!) need our holding too. In discussing David Bowie’s death, we need to eliminate the transphobia, homophobia, and rape culture apologism in many of these conversations. These are all toxic forces that hurt our world.

We should not simply dismiss David Bowie’s artistic legacy and the impact he had on many AND we should not dismiss the allegations of rape and the realities of how he had sex with a 14/15-year old when he was a powerful and revered adult.

We must also listen to the people who interacted with Bowie instead of putting words in their mouth while also recognizing that there are larger forces at play—that just because someone does not feel victimized, it does not mean David Bowie did not take actions that were predatory and could have victimized someone else in the same situation. We can say “it was the 70’s!” and “things were different back then with all the free-flowing drugs!” or whatever to give context, but not to justify abuse and harmful behaviors. Some of us may feel puzzlement, disbelief, discomfort, and a lot of other emotions toward Lori M.’s account of her relationships with David Bowie and Jimmy Page, but we must understand that it is her story and not ours. Just because some of us would have felt or acted differently does not erase her reality and her truth. And we must also pay attention to what this narrative does in the public sphere.

Marginalized people and experiences are usually not neatly categorized and picture-perfect for the consumption of social movements. And when they ARE, or seem to be, something fishy is probably going on.

Older David Bowie

Moving Through & Beyond “KILL ALL RAPISTS”

A carceral, punishment-based justice system where we value an eye for an eye will not save us. It may feel good in the moment and scratch that “revenge” itch, but it will not save us. Booting “bad people” off the island will leave us with an empty island. What will save us is compassion, understanding, accountability, transformation, and restoration of justice. This is not easy, but it is what we must do. And it is not SIMPLE, but it is what we must strive for if we truly want to live in a different, better world. It does not mean we ignore bad things or ~*~magically forgive people and hug them even when they threaten our existence~*~ (more on this in a second).

As far as David Bowie and his work, each of us has to figure out how these things connect in our lives. Some people may swear off his music, some will not. Some people may feel revulsion when they seem him in movies they used to love, some may not. We can figure out how we as a society may honor the great work and things he put out in the world while not erasing his wrongdoing. Bowie is neither the first nor the last celebrity we’ll have to think about in these ways. We better start practicing these trains of thought if we weren’t doing so already (and many of us have been thinking about this for a while, especially in POC communities).

It’s easy for me to have compassion for people I like and see eye-to-eye with, for people who haven’t harmed me. Seeing those people as valuable humans who have worth, who deserve kindness and safety and care from the world and from me personally – that’s easy. Extending the same compassion and open-heartedness to everyone – to the people that have hurt me, to the people I disagree with about everything, to the people who would never listen to me or extend any care or empathy or understanding to me, to the people who don’t think I deserve humanity or kindness or safety – that takes a little more doing. Giving that kind of love is hard and painful.

Now, to be realistic about this, having compassion for people that have harmed me or that mean me harm doesn’t mean I need to allow them to be near me. It doesn’t mean I need to put my own safety at risk. And it also doesn’t mean that this compassion can’t genuinely coexist with real and powerful rage. But my hurt and my rage don’t obviate a person’s right to exist, to feel compassion, to be loved.

– Andy Izenson

As for me? I feel as Andy does. I choose to come to this from a perspective of radical love. Not always and not easily, but with intention and complexity and imperfection.


96 thoughts on “David Bowie: Time to Mourn or Call Out?

  1. Cecilia Tan says:

    Aida, thank you for this piece, which feels to me nuanced, complex, and heartfelt. I’m glad you linked to mine or I might never have found this. I don’t have the brainpower to say much of depth at this moment other than yes, there’s a lot to chew on here, and I’ve been trying to answer many of the question you raise for a while now, not just around Bowie himself but other “problematic faves.” The excerpts and quotes you work in throughout the piece make me want to go and read all of the work of these thinkers and writers, too.

    Thank you.

  2. ModernWizard says:

    Thank you for a nuanced and compassionate commentary. The idealization evident in so many posthumous articles about David Bowie really frustrates me. He wasn’t perfect; he didn’t invent androgyny; and yes, he was talented and important to many people, me included, but he also had his problems. Your call to focus on the variety of responses people have to his death and to treat them all with respect seems to me an example of humane kindness.

  3. c says:

    While it is of course true that the allegations being cleared in ’87 doesn’t mean they didn’t happen, it is worth noting that a key part of the alleged victim’s testimony was that during her assault, Bowie gave her AIDS. Neither she nor Bowie ever tested positive for HIV or AIDS. So I’d say it’s fair to say those allegations are a little shaky, at least based on that.

    With regard to the “baby groupies” thing, there is the question, as someone raised earlier in this thread, how much harm was done – at least one of the women who has discussed her experiences has said “yes it was consensual, yes I enjoyed it, yes it was fine” and in that case we should take her at her word that no harm was done. Now it is also true that this probably happened with many other women who may not feel the same way, and that’s another matter for if and when they come forward.

    All that said, I think one of the nuances that’s been missing from this discussion is that Bowie OWNED HIS SHIT. The dude did a thing in the seventies that would now generally be regarded as kinda fucked up, openly acknowledged it, apologized, tried to make it right, held himself accountable for it and asked other people to do the same: to hold him accountable. He then spent like forty years being by all accounts really good dude and doing his best to follow through on that and using his clout to help people. He wasn’t an unrepentant and irascible asshole and sex criminal like so many seem to believe he is eternally damned to be for a transgression in the early seventies, he grew up and improved, and that’s how progress gets made.

    I dunno, I just wish people would stop falling over themselves to score the most social justice points whenever someone culturally important dies. It’s so cynical and performative.

    Thanks for the great piece.

    • Aida Manduley says:

      The question of harm is really important, I agree, and that is a very rich discussion especially around age of consent laws, who determines harm and in which contexts, and changing social mores. That’s why I felt it was so crucial to include the paragraph about respecting Lori’s narrative regardless of if we personally do or don’t feel a connection to it. Been seeing a lot of this discussed on social media rather than comment sections, unfortunately (or fortunately?). Anyway. To your points about repentance, that’s why the concepts of restorative/transformative justice are so key, and I close with them + the radical love definition. This idea of “kill all rapists” is coming from a place of pain and rage, understandably so, but it’s not useful for long term change and progress.

      • Bethany says:

        DID David Bowie admit to having sex with people he knew to be underage? Please, no hearsay. I would like actual documentation. Thank you.

    • EC says:

      Love this piece and this comment.

      For me, I didn’t really become a fan of his or know of his work growing up. I’d heard of him and watched Labyrinth and was really small around the time he made most of his prominent work, but I knew enough about him in general from hearing about him to know that he was a big deal and that he meant a lot to other people, so out of respect even though I didn’t know his work or anything, I have to respect what he did for other people and the music industry. That said, even after finding out about his crimes/alleged crimes, I recognized that those things were problematic and awful, but I didn’t feel hatred or rage or anger toward him or anything because whenever I saw him on talk shows or anywhere else in his much later older life he seemed to not be that person anymore and my impression of him was that he didn’t bring those activities into his later life and he learned from them. That was kind of just an inference I had purely based on more current behavior, statements by the people that knew him, and that it seemed like hints of continuing bad behavior didn’t come out later since a lot of times even when there’s cover ups there’s slips of information here and there. From my observation it just really seemed like he stopped and reformed. But I’m happy to see from someone who’s more familiar with him knows that he actually owned his mistakes, learned from them, and became a better human being. When you make mistakes as a human being that’s what you’re supposed to do, and for me, I think that makes him still worthy of being called a hero because being a hero doesn’t mean that you’re perfect, but means that when you do make mistakes that you show other people how you make up for those mistakes.

      Also, personally, the entire discussion with people trying to act like Bowie didn’t deserve to be mourned because of the things he did when he was younger made me really think about how I felt about the guy that attacked me. I’m a survivor myself, going to therapy to treat my PTSD and anxiety, and I’m really angry about it still, but at the same time it’s not that I’d really want him to die in a hole or something and that’s the only thing that would make everything okay. The thing I actually want more is for him to actually recognize that he screwed up and stop and NEVER do it again and I recognized that as upset at him as I feel now it’s not like 60+ years from now I want him to die alone with no one around him who cares about him or would be sad. What I want for him is to learn and be a better person and that will be deserving of the mourning that the people around him will feel.

      Plus, the thing about people doing stupid shit when they’re younger doesn’t excuse their behavior, but highlights that we should recognize they have their whole lives to learn from it and make up for it. If they’re a really good person, they will do better in the older years of their life and if that’s the road they take, we should be welcoming to them and forgive them for it. If they continue to be human trash and make more mistakes, then by all means throw them ire. But for me, it just feels more important to recognize that people can change and applaud them when they do.

      Additionally, even though what he did is bad and it’s awful that it happened, as a glass half full POV, it is good that we have it as an example to help inform our dialog on how we talk about cases like those and talk about consent and rape and so on. If celebrities were perfect and high profile cases like that didn’t exist, where would our discussion be? They’re still terrible and awful that they happened, but because they happened it’s also an opportunity for us as a society to bring more attention to the things that are still problems because they are committed by the people we respect the most as well and not just confined to things that happen to normal people. There’s also the factor that because it’s high profile and there’s such a huge amount of public interest in it, that reporters tend to fight harder to get information about the story, which gives us more material for us to examine and helps us to know better and become better as a society.

      Speaking on the point about harm though, while the victim doesn’t feel like they were harmed, it’s also kind of ambiguous because other than the obvious statutory part of the case, there’s also that there’s just a power imbalance from the public figure vs fan point of view. Just a matter of real talk it’s often really hard for the person with less power to even notice that they’re at a disadvantage, but it’s a thing that would tend to come out over time if there was an actual relationship. Because it was a one time event it’s a lot easier for the victim to not feel like there was any wrongdoing.

      And just to avoid making too many posts, the thing about it being the 70s I feel is also notable not just because of the drugs and the times, but just because people in general were just less scared about trusting people and there was far less dialog about awful things at the time than there are now. We are where we are now is because many people learned the hard way that you can’t be too trusting of everyone. I mean, that time period is also the setting for the film “The Lovely Bones” which takes place in the 70s before the idea of not talking to strangers because they might kidnap and kill you was a common thing we teach our children. It’s hard for us to remember that from our POV in 2016 because it seems so obvious, but we just need to acknowledge that we knew so much less about safety and victims and consent in the 70s. It doesn’t excuse the crimes, but I think it’s important to recognize that we’re looking at these cases from the point of view of knowing better than a person who lived at that time. There’s a whole slew of other stuff that are absolutely dangerous and terrible by today’s standards that at one point people thought were good ideas like the atomic laboratory toy that trained kids how to use and find their own uranium (which by all accounts in today’s standards is also very illegal). Rather than be cynical about it, I’d rather look back at those things and recognize how far we’ve come as a people and celebrate and appreciate living in a time of knowing better.

    • hophigh says:

      “All that said, I think one of the nuances that’s been missing from this discussion is that Bowie OWNED HIS SHIT. The dude did a thing in the seventies that would now generally be regarded as kinda fucked up, openly acknowledged it, apologized, tried to make it right, held himself accountable for it and asked other people to do the same: to hold him accountable. He then spent like forty years being by all accounts really good dude and doing his best to follow through on that and using his clout to help people.”

      what are you referencing???

  4. polbo says:

    The 70s were undoubtedly a little too wild, but I wonder if we haven’t swung too far to the other, puritanical extreme. The radicalism and libertinism certainly made for better art. Reading what passes for cultural appreciation nowadays feels a lot more like being continuously clucked at by moralizing schoolmarms.

  5. CarolG says:

    I am 58 and when I was a teen in the 70s I had sex with older men. I wanted to because unlike teen age boys they were better lovers and took my sexual pleasure into consideration. I am also a survivor of a violent rape at 16 and I was sexually abused starting at age 4 until I was 9. I really resent being told that every sexual liaison I had before I turned 18 was an act of rape. By doing that you are taking my freedom and my autonomy. I spent years in therapy dealing with my abuse. I don’t regret the sex I chose to have.

    I do think the culture around groupies is disturbing regardless of age. I have never understood the I want to have sex with someone just because they are famous. I had friends at the time who were groupies they would have sex with the roadies, promoters and managers in the hopes of getting to have sex with the famous person. We can blame the men and the culture for this and make all the females victims. But by doing that you are saying that women have no agency that basically they are incapable of choosing.

    As an adult I do see problems with adults engaging in sex with underage teens. There is to much of a risk of abuse of power. The adult men I had sex with should not have had sex with me but I also lied many times saying I was 18. I had a realistic fake ID.

    I am angry that instead of talking about this when he was alive say anytime in the past thirty years it is being dragged up now that he is dead.

    As a rape victim whose rapist got away with it because the state didn’t take it to trial I am well aware that the justice system sometimes fails. On the other hand men have sat in prison convicted of a rape they didn’t commit later exonerated by DNA evidence.

    I know what it is like not to be believed my family to this day refuses to believe my so called wonderful uncle would do such a horrible thing. Yet I also know of a girl who lied and lied about being sexually abused by her father. Her mother encouraged this as punishment for him leaving her for another woman.

    Being raped and not believed is horrible and just as horrible is being accused of rape and being innocent.

    I am writing all this because it is a very complex issue. It is easy tp say all women who say they are raped should be believed but what about when they are lying. And while fake rape accusations are rare they do happen. Do we trust the courts and if they don’t convict do we still paint the man as a rapist? I have very mixed feelings about this because innocent people do get arrested and sometimes convicted.

    Anyway these are my rambling thoughts I don’t claim to have all the answers as some here do. I don’t see it as a clear cut black and white issue.

    . For myself I will grieve David Bowie passing. I have sympathy for his wife and children. I see him as a flawed sometimes troubled genius a man who as a child survived a troubled home and as a young man who numbed his pain with drugs to the point of a psychotic break and then found away to climb out of that abyss.

  6. Mack Duude says:

    This brings up some points that NEED discussing. Thank for not going down the “castrate and mutilate all accused rapists” road. Thank you for the expressed nuance of this situation. I’m glad many of the commentators are raising the question of just how old can one really be to consent to sex? One could easily argue that many 22 year olds don’t know what they are doing when they consent and as has been argued above, it’s possible some 15 maybe even 14 year olds do know what they are consenting to. I do find it patronizing that once someone is an adult and has processed their life experiences, for someone else to say that you just don’t know or you’re in denial. Their experience is simply not your experience or anyone else’s. Call me crazy but, I trust women. So I believe them when they say something happened and I believe them when they say what it meant to them. It’s called agency, and I refuse to take that away from them.

    The difficulty is that we, as a people, still deny life long sexual development. We want to pretend that sexual development does not happen gradually. We like think that at 18 all of sudden you wake up sexually mature. Just like physical growth is a process, so is sexual development. Just as there are some 13 and 14 year old world class athletes and child prodigy geniuses, it’s quite probable that there are people who sexually mature at earlier ages. Also, just like wold class athletes, and child prodigies, I believe these are rare. The sad thing is that when it comes to sex we don’t allow for space in our minds to deal with this the same way we do for athletes and prodigies.

    I don’t know the particulars of all of the Bowie cases and I suspect more information will be coming out soon. I do hope that this spurs more conversation to help love us forward in how we think about and address human sexuality and sexual development.

  7. Sam says:

    Thank you for this. I will carry this with me forever: “We must think about our audience and the impact of our words on our communities. We must think about the intersections and how we highlight or erase them. We must ask ourselves why we are raising our voice and in service of what.”

  8. Emilio Lizardo says:

    I keep seeing these “Bowie was a rapist” articles popping up, but I’ve yet to see one from an author who was alive and old enough at the time to understand the scene and put into context just who these girls were and what the norm of the time was. Lori Maddox and Sable Starr were the two most infamous professional groupies of all time. From the age of thirteen they were associated with almost every A-list musician on the planet. That’s what they *did*, and in the case of Maddox, at least, it was even condoned by her mother, who was even proud of her for it, by Lori’s own account. If Bowie is to be posthumously retried and judged by today’s standards then you should run every other 70s A-list musician the girls pursued through the same ringer, which means you’ll be judging — well — every other 70s A-list musician, so get ready to boycott Zeppelin, the Stones, and many more.

  9. Betty Noir says:

    “And those at the intersections—the queer and trans survivors—who feel confused as hell and torn (or staunchly on one side of the fence!) need our holding too. ”

    Thank you so much for this. I’m one of those people at the intersections. I really appreciate the compassion and balance that you brought to this piece.

  10. Cara Ramsey says:

    The age of Lori Maddox at the time of the incident is in question. In one space, Lori says she was 15. In another video interview, she flatly declares David Bowie was “before Jimmy”, meaning Jimmy Page. She was 13 and 14 (confirmed) when she was with Jimmy Page. When asked about being young, she says she “felt much older”.

    The available evidence strongly points to her being 13 at the time David Bowie engaged her in sexual relations.

    David Bowie was NEVER CHARGED for these statutory rapes even though multiple girls are linked to him (Lori Maddox, Sable Star, Queenie McGlam, and possibly others). He was not indicted by a grand jury in Dallas after an incident in 1987 with Wanda Nichols. In that incident, he admits he penetrated Wanda Nichols but claims it was consensual. She claims it was not. Bill Cosby anyone?

    Further, as anyone in the US knows, police forces AND prosecutors have often been unnecessarily hostile to victims of rape in the US. “What were you wearing?” “Why were you in a bar?” All that sort of nonsense and accusatory tactics from prosecutors and police are why as many as 2/3rds of victims never come forward in the first place. So don’t tell me that just because a grand jury failed to indict (he was NOT found innocent in a trial), doesn’t mean he didn’t do it. He admitted he sexually penetrated Wanda Nichols. Admitted it, but claimed it was consensual, exactly like Bill Cosby is doing now and did for 40 years.

    Secondly, what everyone “celebrating” his life fails to consider is what this does to other survivors of sexual abuse and that is what Bowie did. He exploited a position of power via older age and fame to seduce young girls. And he did this while he was married as well.

    Those survivors are seeing a sexual predator being lionized across all media. Those survivors are witnessing male privilege first hand and having it shoved down their throats because people place their feelings about Bowie’s music above the feelings of victims of sexual abuse.

    Way to go. Real considerate there. NOT!

    • Ally says:

      He admitted to spending the night with Wanda… Though Wanda also claimed that Bowie had AIDS in which he was subject to an AIDS test or agreed to one. He does not have AIDS. Case dismissed in my eyes.
      No one knows the facts of back in the day with the groupie accounts. Everyone was off their face and it was some 40 years ago. It might not have even happened. There’s reports of Bowie turning away underaged girls. So really no one knows the truth. One account by Lori doesn’t mean it’s fact. And if there is truth it should be considered that she maintains it was consensual and has no regrets. Some teens are mature… And with the age of consent laws varying in across he globe… Who is to say who is mature and ready or not… Who knows the brain patterns of each individual ? I get laws are their to protect people from being taken advantage of… But if one truely believes they want something and maintains some 40 years after that they are still fine with it… Well I can understand.

  11. Samrah says:

    I made the mistake of subscribing to this thread so I’d like to add something of note:
    1. Statutory rape is a legal definition but the age of consent has been anywhere from 16-18 depending on the state since 1920. So to say that this is a new concept is a gross misrepresentation.
    2. We can’t resort to arguments of cultural relativism otherwise we’re really setting back any civil movement that has come to fruition in the history of humankind. Do we excuse the whipping of black slaves because it was a product of the time and “everyone was doing it”? Is it alright for Saudia Arabia to not let women drive because that’s the culture?
    I feel like everyone is missing the point here. What if it was anyone besides Bowie? Would we still be accepting of another male adult having sex with a 14 year old girl if she claimed down the line that she enjoyed it? Would we say that it was acceptable and that he shouldn’t be subject to criticism? I sincerely doubt it.

  12. Sarah says:

    I’m a bit worried about this whole ‘this woman was raped, and if she doesn’t think she was raped then she is just deluded, because ‘I’ based on my beliefs, have decided that she was raped, and so everyone else must be outraged because I am.’ thing.

    The age of consent is an arbitrary date in Law …it’s a bit patronizing to sit and say ‘California says 18, so it’s 18’ when countless countries around the world say totally other ages. I’m British, our age of consent is 16, so by your definition I’ve been ‘raped but don’t realise it’ several times …or would it only have been rape, and so distress me subconsciously, if it had happened within the California state lines …as if somehow crossing that equally arbitrary line in the dessert changes how may brain works.

    What your grandfather did was wrong ..but, to be honest, it sounds like you have a bit of a thing for being outraged on behalf of people. Your mother, who was actually abused by him, was able to forgive him, but you, who it appears wasn’t actually hurt by him, couldn’t ‘because of what he did to someone else’ …and now you are doing exactly he same with Bowie. The person who you claim is the victim does not feel like anything bad happened to her, so who are you to tell her she is wrong …in fact, what has any of it got to do with you? This is a relationship that happened over 40 years ago, between 2 people you have never even met …why are you so concerned about it? And are you also hunting out none famous people who have ‘raped not raped’ people decades ago ..or is it just celebrities you think need exposing …and ones who have just died at that.

    Do you know which 15 year old I feel sorry for …Bowie’s daughter. I am female, and the mother of teenager daughters, and I can tell you that seeing articles like this will be doing young Miss Bowie far more harm than her father ever did to a very willing, and still happy about it, fan (which is no harm at all).

    Why is it that you are so concerned about this woman who herself has said she has no regrets and has suffered no ill effects, but don’t care about an actual minor who had no choice about who her parents are and, whilst in the midst of grieving for her father has to put up with people writing things like ‘the rape allegations against him (that were cleared by a jury, but I also know that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen)’ …you don’t know ‘that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen’, you don’t know anything about it. You are just jumping on a bandwagon, trading on other peoples (in this case imagined) pain, and potentially causing harm to one of the group (young vulnerable women) you claim to be speaking out for.

          • Cara Ramsey says:

            In another interview she clearly stated David Bowie was “before Jimmy”, meaning Jimmy Page. And she was 13 and 14 when with Jimmy Page by her own admission.

            The information given even by her has been conflicting across multiple articles and interviews. And it honestly looks like she was 13 at that time since she also, in the same video interview, said “I felt much older” as she tried to justify her behavior.

            • Girliepoo says:

              The dates she allegedly was with with Bowie (June 1972( cannot even be confirmed, because in June 1972 Bowie was not even in Los Angeles, but away on tour.

    • Vickyb says:

      If we sign off on this behaviour from Bowie, then we sign off on the 30 year old man down the road who is doing the same thing with his 13/14/15 year old neighbour. This is harmful behaviour and, whilst the age of consent may be arbitrary, it is there to protect vulnerable people. The responsibility therefore lies with the older, more powerful party, and it’s important to raise our voice against this practice – not just for Lori Maddox, but for all the nameless girls who think it’s ok because they said it was ok. Actually, it just isn’t.

      • Halloween Jack says:

        No one’s “signing off” on anything. The statements that “It’s generally not a good idea for young teenage girls to hook up with older men, because of the possibility that they’re being manipulated somehow, maybe not knowing enough about contraception or sexual safety, etc.” and “The particular person in this case, from the perspective of forty years later, has said that it was a positive experience, as opposed to her experience with Jimmy Page” are not mutually contradictory. I’ve done inadvisable things that were technically illegal but harmed neither myself nor anybody else, particularly when I was younger, that I wouldn’t repeat again; outside of this brief window, AFAWK Bowie never dated teenagers again.

        Also, WRT the age of consent, it varies from state to state and country to country. In Germany, it’s 14, although it’s older if one of the partners has some sort of authority over the other (e.g. teacher/student). There are places in America where a relationship that’s illegal is legal literally a block away. I’m certainly not arguing for the complete elimination of age of consent laws, nor am I dismissing the experiences of women who have been abused by older men. But I don’t think that the absolutist attitudes shown by a lot of people toward this. I’ve spent no small amount of time thinking about this since Monday, and I have kicked some of my former idols to the curb in the past after revelations of crimes or simple bad behavior, but I don’t think it’s justified here.

  13. Sara says:

    Thank you for this article. I am disturbed by what Bowie and other rocks stars actually called “Baby Groupies”. These were men who had the admiration of girls because they were famous and rich. They were 13, 14 and 15 year old girls by their own accounts. Bowie and others had paid staff such as bodyguards and managers who recruited the girls, and brought them into a space they controlled like a hotel room.. They gave the girls drugs and alcohol then used them sexually. This is all documented since 1973 by the girls themselves and others who photographed and wrote about it. Sexual violence always has a component of power imbalance. Having consensual sex with an adult woman, or two teens of equal power having consensual sex, sounds very different than what Bowie and other rock stars did.

    • TG says:


      the men you’re talking about were very young men, in their 20s. I don’t know where you read about bodyguards recruiting them, but that wasn’t the case. Girls would wait backstage if they couldn’t get access. They may have picked certain girls from a group because in those days there were far more girls wanting to get backstage than would be allowed. The 70s were not necessarily a time of drugging someone’s drink to get them to have sex. People did a lot of drugs, freely and openly. Doing drugs was part of rebelling. For that matter, young girls picking guys in the late teens or early 20s to have sex with was also considered rebellion against the patriarchy of the time which would have liked all of us to remain virgins until marriage. There is however, the case of Jackie Fox, who was in the original Runaways, who was drugged and raped by Kim Foley, manger of the Runaways. Foley had a reputation for chasing after young girls, and of drugging them. But that was not the case will the rockers that we loved. And because they were so loved, they didn’t need to drug and rape anyone. (you may be inclined to bring up Bill Cosby, but he was not a rock star, he was a comedian, and did not have groupies. he raped women who were usually meeting him in private, in professional capacity. His case, as well as Kim Foley, are very very different from Led Zeppelin and David Bowie and so many others of that time.)

  14. lisa says:

    Following the link re:rape allegations, I read that it was a grand jury. Grand juries are closed sessions, unfortunately, in which a prosecutor presents evidence in order to have the grand jury determine if there is enough evidence to indict, or bring charges. So, technically, he wasn’t cleared by a jury, because the case never made it to trial.

  15. Samrah says:

    This is a very well-thought out and considerate piece. You’re right- cultural icons hold important significance to some of us which should be respected but it shouldn’t negate their wrongdoings (even when they are dead).
    As for whether the underage girl is now happy with her decisions- I can’t believe that this is even being put forward as an argument? Should this be an excuse to commit statutory rape against underage girls? The possibility that they enjoy it or could later remember it as enjoyable after reaching the age of majority? Can we start looking at this logically instead of seeing it through the lens of hero worship?

    • Jeff says:

      What are your thoughts about muslims marrying, then consumating the marriage when the girl starts menstruating? Even if she’s only 10?

  16. Debbie says:

    I sensed much bias in this article mostly because of assumptions made and after reading all of the comments I would have to say I believe that David Bowie was not a rapist in the traditional sense. I lost my virginity at 14 with a boy of 19 who had complete permission. Still he would be considered a rapist and sex offender. That just does not compute. At the age of 15 I was raped at a party by someone who did not have permission and was told no repeatedly. I believe his reasoning was since I was not a virgin it was no big deal. One experience leaves me nostalgic and the other even at age 60 still makes me sick to my stomach when I think about it. Sorry, but I also think that after a person dies is it really necessary to try and drag their name through the mud again for something that already had its air time? As for the person who talks about the not formed brain, I was left to raise 2 little brothers at age 10 when my mom left. By 14 I was a caregiver, cook , student and knew what sex was. I read a lot, still do. I knew exactly what I was doing and it sounds like so did Maddox. I may have been being used in some peoples eyes, but for a lonely 14 year old who rarely got out because she was always babysitting and neglected by her dad because he was either out working or drinking I used this 19 year old boy as much as he used me, just for different reasons. I find this whole rehashing disrespectful to his family also. RIP Mr.Bowie, no one is perfect!

    • Lux says:

      I agree. I’d also like to add that we should consider the fact that this allegations are from the ’70s – a time of sexual revolution, and drug experimentation, so it’s not surprising to learn about teens having sex with people older than them at the time. Times have changed, so have attitudes and values, and we may never have all the answers in Bowie’s case, but the era at which this rape may or may not have occurred should be taken into consideration.

    • TG says:

      Thank you, Debbie, for your comments….

      The 70s were very different and many of us lost our virginity to young men who would be called sex offenders today. Similar with Bowie, who was 24 or 25 to Lori Maddox’s 13 (or 15.) Ten year age difference. Enough to get your mom really mad at you! (my boyfriend was 18, I was 15.) We also knew the difference between a rape and freely giving of ourselves. Your story is so sad, and yet, not so uncommon. Things happened. We didn’t say anything, but also there weren’t people videotaping them and putting them up for others to see (thank god.)

      What troubles me is seeing our histories revised and spun by people who don’t understand what rebellion was in our time and who we were as young women. Would we have liked justice for harms done? Sure! Would we still want the freedom to choose who we gave our virginity to and that he not be called a sex offender and we be told we were “too young” to decide our own fate? Abso-friggin-loutely! We, in that time, had to take on a lot more responsibility in a lot of ways. If not taking care of our families, it was letting ourselves in the house before parents came home from work and making sure we did our homework ourselves. Sometimes it meant making plans to marry young in order to escape a troubled home. There are resources now that we didn’t have. And I think it is vitally important to speak to subsequent generations about our lives , our choices, and our forms of rebellion because maybe their parents haven’t spoken to them about their lives. There rae few adults who survived the 70s who didn’t do some crazy sh*t, but there are a heck of a lot who would never own up to it to their children (like they’d never own up to it back then either.) Dialogue is important, IMO, to keep revisionist history skewing the past.

  17. Amy says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful, thought provoking essay. I think it can be summed up (simply) as “feelings are hard and complicated”, but yes, that says so much. Hadn’t thought of the Fan/Respect the Art vs. Question the Individual issue (Woody Allen, Polanski, Cosby) in terms of intersectionality. Going to be having the deep thinks now.

    As for my quick thought on whether it’s time to mourn or to call out… I think there should be space for a bit of mourning now. We can’t call him out personally now (he’s dead-he can’t answer that call). The discussions/actions to address future issues (and current celebrities engaging in the same deeply problematic behaviour) can wait a day or two. Something that I would like to see addressed, in a few days, is why so many of us are just learning of these accusations now? Is it just that now was a chance to break through the media/public consciousness blockade while Bowie has been “trending”. Why did he get a pass while alive, when he could have addressed this – maybe even done some good?

  18. Amy B. says:

    Our society’s knowledge about the implications of adult/teen sexuality has evolved dramatically since the 1970’s and 1980’s. At that time, as now, teens were widely and openly sexualized in the popular culture, and not just by rock stars, pedophiles, and porn studios. And it wasn’t for nothing: teens are encountering sexual development for the first time, without any experience in how to deal with it, and with utterly confusing, conflicting, and twisted messages about it from parents, churches, and the wider culture. I remember being a teen girl in love with David Bowie. And I remember the late 70’s/early 80’s high school milieu, in which virginity was something to be shed as soon as possible if you wanted to be seen as sophisticated, popular, and cool. Remember the movie, Grease? The good girl, Sandy, had to look slutty and gyrate her hips in tight leather pants to win the love of her man and the respect of her peers. That was the 70’s & 80’s. If you’re supposed to shed your virginity like a lizard skin to pass the cool kid litmus test (aka rite of passage), and you’re choosing between the skinny kid in art class and David Bowie, you’re going to feel pretty lucky. Not everybody gets stranded on a desert island with the love of their lives (Blue Lagoon, the actually pretty rapey 80’s depiction of ultimate teen love). While there is more vocal opposition these days to sexually exploiting teens by virtue of new developments in psychology, social work, and criminal law, and a more sophisticated politicization of liberal youth, and it’s a mistake to pinpoint the “having sex” as the moment of harm, and a red herring to focus exclusively on blaming the “bad guy.” The moment of harm is the day we’re born into a sexist culture, dressed in pink, and taught subservience to male agendas. From that moment forward, girls are sexualized, disempowered, raped (literally and figuratively), and told our value lies in our sexual power and/or sexual purity. From that moment forward, men and women alike are given widespread social permission to judge women and girls against society’s standards of sex appeal, marriageability, and gender conformity. A girl is still made to feel unworthy if she doesn’t sexualize herself enough, or if her sexual identity isn’t normative, or if she sexualizes herself too much. She is punished for having sexual desires and humiliated if she doesn’t. Either way, being a girl is somehow, always, all about sex, even if you self-identify as asexual. Until the 1950’s heterosexual rape (including statutory) wasn’t considered a crime against a woman; it was a property crime against her husband, betrothed, or father, for whom her virginity was a commodity. In the 1970’s and 80’s, statutory rape laws were pretty widely considered passe in the popular culture, particularly where older teens (16+) were concerned, on par with laws against sodomy, homosexuality, and cross-dressing. People mostly looked the other way. I’m not saying famous rock stars who have lured impressionable teens into sex aren’t exploitative creeps responsible for a lot of psychological damage. They are. I’m saying, if you just burn the David Bowie effigy, and go on with your day, it’s worse than missing the point. Dumping our righteous anger into a grave instead of using it to deconstruct the social permission David Bowie and other men still receive to commodify, control, and exploit women won’t change anything. Better to pour it into the work of reclaiming women’s and girl’s lives from the male-centered black hole of sexual commodification.

  19. HippieChick79 says:

    Statutory rape is a legal definition, a MODERN legal definition. My mom was married at 14 as were many, many, many women back in the day. If you were 18 and still single you were a spinster. If David Bowie had chosen me for a one night stand in the seventies…oh, hell, yes, I would have said yes. In any case, he was acquitted. So it just doesn’t matter. RIP, magical man.

  20. kalinda says:

    She has the right to her feelings, as does everyone who feels disturbed by this. I am a molestation and rape victim . I can very easily understand the pain, fear, intimidation, misplaced guilt – and all the other unpleasant states of being that such a situation endures. I am also a lifelong David Bowie fan, saddened at the loss of an artist I felt connected to through the art he created. The emotions are large and complex. What I hope for at this time is that people with differing opinions can speak to each other respectfully. People on both sides (as if there are only two!) feel hurt. Verbal attacks don’t heal anyone. Respectful, thoughtful, and accommodating discourse might pave a path for progress.

  21. Kate says:

    Whether or not Maddox/Maddix had fond memories of the experience, the fact is that from a neurological standpoint, her brain was not developed enough to weigh the consequences of her actions at 15, or to even perceive that she was being used. And yes, she was being used. To a teenage girl, the notion of fame is the ultimate fantasy. Little girls are raised being called princess and fed everything shiny and glamorous. The illusion of the perfect rock star life is something that can take them away from all the real world issues that are bothering them. A demigod steps down off the stage that thousands of people are worshipping him from and comes over to you, holds out his hand and says “You are the one I want, come with me, I will bring you great pleasure, buy you expensive clothes and five star meals.” Do you know how many teenage girls would say yes? Nearly every single one. And Bowie knew that. A lot of these rock icons did, and do, know that. Like dangling a piece of steak in front of a dog, they know they’re going to take it. So these stars have their (sometimes debased) physical wants fulfilled for little to no effort, and these girls come away feeling like they are now famous by association. And therein lies the problem with the issue of consent at a young age. These girls are chasing fantasies, not reality, and their minds are not developed enough to tell the difference.

    • Stella says:

      Her happy memories have lasted well into her sixties. She has been able to reassess her life many many times by now, and she’s come out still pleased that she made those choices.

      • PF says:

        Kate’s comments have me feeling a bit queasy on a few levels. While I think power dynamics are such between younger teens and adults that having sex carries a huge risk for both parties, we know, for a fact, this woman had a relationship with Bowie that she continued well into adulthood. And at 60 years old, she still has fond memories and no regrets. Saying that she was (and now is) incapable of of telling the difference between fantasy and reality is an infantalizing thing to say about a 60 year old woman. “Holding steak in front of a dog” is downright dehumanizing. Teens are capable of developed thought and agency over their bodies, not salivating sex and fame obsessed beasts who need to be leashed.

        When I was 16 I dated someone who was 26 for 9 months. I thought I was really cool for dating someone older who could buy beer. My priorities were much different then, but I could tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Do I look back at age 30 and think that he was emotionally immature for seeking a relationship with someone in high school? Absolutely! Was I able to set boundaries and make choices about what I wanted to do with my body and who I wanted to share my body with? Yes! Have I ever considered that relationship assault? No way, and we’re still in touch now that I’m 30 and he’s 40.

        I can’t get down with anyone who refuses to respect the choices I made then and how I feel about those choices now. I’m going to extend that same respect to Lori Maddox, especially as she is mourning someone who is dear to her while the internet debates whether or not she is too deluded to realize that the person she is mourning is actually her rapist.

        • TG says:

          What a great comment PF! (Lori is in her 50s, not 60…)

          What’s bothered me about this essay, and others I’ve read is how so many believe we of another generation couldn’t tell the difference between rape and consensual sex, even if we weren’t of legal age. We did have agency, knew our own minds, made our own decisions. We didn’t turn around later and cry rape at that decision, even if it didn’t go quite as planned. It would have been nice to actually level rape charges against those who did rape, but it was a dicey thing back then if you weren’t a virgin.

          The push-pull we might be seeing underneath all this might not be against patriarchy either, but towards young women who are sexual beings before the legal world says it is ok to be one. It may stem from a desire to protect until a proper age, to shield from potential exploitation and abuse. But when a teen who appears young takes responsibility for her sexuality, she also might know how to intuit a bad person or situation and protect herself.

      • Candace says:

        Little girls have lots of dreams, every bridzilla is trying to recreate that and most are not teenagers. You don’t magically become more mature by having a birthday. If a teenager committs murder they are often tried as an adult. A willing 14 or 15 year old is easy to find in any high school, a groupie is most interested in scoring, sometimes just a roady or sound guy will do. Not that much has changed, it maybe a Cinderella moment, but that’s it a moment. Many grown women fantasies that a casual relationship is more than it is, but it is still all in her head. To say that all women think a one night stand is a relationship at any age is crazy. We are not all delusional wannabe princesses, many use their sexuality as a tool or an assest, and some arrive at that a different ages. Some never do.

      • qqww says:

        People tend to justify whatever it is they chose (or what happened to them) after the fact. It’s a part of normal psychology and a well documented phenomenon. That she’s doing it doesn’t mean they were good choices, or that she understood them, or that she wasn’t taken advantage of.

        Lori Maddox is, if anything, defending it all a little too fiercely. It’s as if she can’t leave it alone, she needs to convince others so she can continue seeing her past in the way she sees it. And in order to do that she justifies rape and speaks on behalf of those who want to take advantage of teenage girls. That is really sad.

  22. BenV says:

    “cleared by a jury, but I also know that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen” seems very dangerous to me. Do you have any reason to think that it *did* happen, other than that Bowie was a man?

    If you do, then by all means, say so. But to seemingly take the attitude that no not-guilty verdict in favor of a male accused of rape is to fully trusted under any circumstances…well, the words “slippery slope” come to mind.

    • Chuckruckus says:

      Totally agree with this. Cleared by a jury entitles any accused to be relieved of the persecution of being found “guilty” in the court of public opinion.

      • Jo says:

        Totally agree with you SMG. At 27 I regret my decision NOT to experiment with my sexuality in my teens. I listened to others, I held back out of fear rather than considering what I wanted. I held on to that old fashioned notion that I should be in love and waiting for love ended up being the biggest mistake I made because I got used, discarded and really fucking hurt.

        I wish at 15 I had have learned that I wasn’t defined by my sexuality or that status of a little flap of skin in my vagina and that love and a man wasn’t the be all and end all of who I could be.

        What’s important is the individual’s understanding of what happened and if she didn’t feel victimised who the hell is anyone to tell her she was because of a law or ideology that didn’t exist at the time.

  23. Kathy Mendez says:

    I am a lawyer, a public defender, and have been for 26 years. If one is accused of ANY sort of crime, how is that accusation resolved? The opening remarks here in regard to Mr. Bowie’s acquittal of the charge of rape indicated that the acquittal does not necessarily mean it didn’t happen. How then, do we as a culture and society, resolve these accusations? Because that is all that they are up and until there is an admission by the accused or a conviction by a jury. If twelve members a community all hear the same evidence, and after deliberations, find the accusation unfounded, the accused is not guilty. Why isn’t the jury responsible for that? Shouldn’t the survivor dwell upon why the accusation wasn’t believed? I find it extremely difficult to agree with the whole notion that somehow someone who has had to go through the criminal justice system has “gotten away” with anything. Having to defend accused individuals has led me to believe that some accusations are more damaging than anything. There is no guarantee AT ALL that a truly innocent person will be acquitted and/or a truly guilty person will be convicted. I have had the devastating experience of having clients who I firmly believed were innocent convicted by a jury. It is a horrible experience. Most jurors believe, right off the bat, that an accused is guilty, simply be virtue of having been accused. Most jurors are inherently conservative abut human behavior. If a jury in a rape case is unwilling to convict, irrespective of the defendant, there is a serious problem with that case. I think it is fundamentally unfair to make an individual go through a process and deprive him or her of the legally obtained result. How is there ever any resolution then? Can you imagine what this discussion would have been like had he been convicted? If he had done his time, served his parole and been rehabilitated? So he never gets to win in this situation. If a jury convicts him, he is a rapist; is a jury acquits him, he is a presumed rapist? How is that fair?

    • qqww says:

      The entire justice systems is by definition not interested in whether something happened or not. That’s just not the standard they operate on. What they are interested in is whether something provably happened or not.

      Plus, jurors are terrible at what they do. They are vulnerable to all human cognitive biases and have no expertise or experience in interpreting evidence. Many are there against their will.

      No one is saying it’s a good or particularly fair system, but it is the best we have. Many rape victims are thrown under the bus. So are many wrongfully accused. But given the way rape accusations tend to play out in our society, no loss of status or any kind of long term consequences, I wouldn’t worry too much about them.

  24. doug stuber says:

    The problem when old rockers die, and the last two that hit me the hardest were Bowie and Lou Reed (nice photo!) is that it brings up a ton of feelings in someone, say 57 years old. Here’s the thing: there are hundreds, nay thousands of bar acts that count as quality even rebellious rock and roll out there right now, but NONE will have the impact of Bowie or Reed, and NONE who question authority or promulgate an alternative lifestyle hit with the IMPACT on our culture the music once had.

    This has occurred, as all glorious creative times (1950 to 1980, give or take) as the new dark age has come upon us. Since 1980, or just before, the squelching of truly alarming and monumental creativity has slowly but surely gotten worse. As electronics, propaganda via ALL MEDIA, and :conservative values” whitewash all fields of a cultural realm (maybe not classical music…) we are left living in the past (Jedthro Tull) and yearn for more Michael Moores or at least more Ernest Hemingways, and if their contemporary equivalents are out there (where, or who is the NEXT Kurt Vonnegut even?) there’s a good chance they’ve been left unpublished, unheard, unseen due to things like Sony buying Columbia records. Conservative Japanese guys took the label that brought us Dylan, Springsteen, Simon and Garfunkel and a LOT of other acts that questioned authority and BAM squelched any new ones from hitting it being (by not being signed).

    Throw in a pinch of MTV and a heavy dose of an ass-lick or two (see American Idol or even the Voice) and again,music no longer has the influence to help end a war(Vietnam ended due to an entire generation being inspired by countless anti-war protest songs).

    Now that Billy Bragg has slowed his US touring schedule and band like Rage Against the Machine are bundled and tied, name me who is going to replace the cultural icons known as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young or a long string of others.

    Here I can go to Cat’s Cradle and 25 other venues to catch a huge sampling of the up and coming bands. Probably 20% have the chops and even the philosophy to challenge my theory that the days of a culture influenced by creative people has died. But can you name me one of these bands? Have you seen them live? Did you download their stuff?

    Worse yet, other than Kathy Acker and few others, which writers are busting full blast against the wars? OK Chris Hedges (the Pulitzer Prize winner fired from the New York Times) has it going on at http://www.truthout.com). Journalists who persist in investigative reporting are often fired.

    Hell, the movies and tv are a lost cause, and basically (look at all the cop shows on CBS alone!) feed such malicious propaganda (lies) that it makes me want to puke. TV? Who has time for that shit. And I say that in the face of a TON of new great shows…still it doesn’t outweigh the pro war, pro “tough on crime” poop. We’re being transferred into a country where the police are militarized, meaning someone somewhere believes more direct attacks (um police killing unarmed people is a problem that equals the racism behind it) on suspects is A-OK.

    Sprinkle in the icing: The Patriot Act ended Habeas Corpus, the legal belief that people MUST be told WHY they are being arrested, at the time of arrest. This has been in western law since 1215. Yes 1215, when King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta. Before I go off hard on how impossible it is to defend yourself if the cops or anyone else doesn’t tell you why you’re being arrested. Wow King George the Bush got this crap passe,d and the Supreme Court didn’t bat an eyelash (though it’s extremely unconstitutional) and the Constitutional expert,Barack Obama,also never once brought up overturning this foul law and Patriot Act 2, another insult. Had their been an effective watchdog ANYWHERE, this stuff might not have happened. Rise up young voices; or be squelched forever.

    • Osyrus11 says:

      good lord. A new dark age? get over yourself. You do a huge diservice to artists everywhere. The whole field has changed. The methods of distribution, the venues. Everything has changed. You simply date yourself, Not a single one of the heroes that you throw up would dare make such a stupid claim. Every generation has it’s geniuses. Popular music is older now, it’s more sophisticated. There are 20 year olds shaping the tastes of millions that you’ve never heard of. It is not the world my friend, it is you, who stopped paying attention, stopped learning. It’s happening right now, right under your nose, so open those old weary eyes, scrape the barnacles off your attrophied heart, and dare to listen again. sheesh!

  25. Mitsu says:

    I found out about this yesterday. Here are my general thoughts:

    I don’t think celebrities ought to be held to any different standard than anyone else.

    But quite frankly I have always been skeptical of the definitions of statutory rape that have been floating around various places. According to California law, the age of consent is 18, and in fact ANY sexual activity under the age of 18 is illegal, no matter what the ages of the participants. That means every one of my high school classmates who had any sexual experiences were technically the victims of statutory rape. To me, this is ridiculous.

    The age of consent in Canada was 14 until 2006. In Italy, it is still 14. In Spain, it is 13. In California, it is 18. What are these different ages based on? Scientific studies? Psychological evidence? Is 15 really too young to consent, across the board?

    According to Thrillist, she was 15 at the time, he was… 23? In California in 1970, that was statutory rape. However, as noted in her own testimony, it was consensual and she has fond memories of it even now.

    I personally am not and have never been convinced that 18 is the “correct” age of consent. I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t seem like a simple matter that has an obvious answer.

    • CaroleM says:

      Exactly. The age of consent is actually different for every person. And I’m sorry but it was the Seventies and things were very very different. Some bad things happened, I won’t disagree – but as someone who came of age then – we weren’t so paranoid about sex, and there weren’t so many hard and fast rules with so many automatic politically correct judgements. I suspect the dismissed “rape” case against David Bowie was seen for what it was – a woman who saw her chance to make a ton of money. It’s an obvious setup, for no other reason than there were so many willing women, there was no reason to search out a 30 year old and force her. Again – I guess it was the Seventies and you had to be there. Reading the “I Lost My Virginity” article -yeah, that’s a lot like it was. Sorry you guys missed it. We had a blast.

      • Corey says:

        Thanks, Carole, for the voice of reason. I know a lot of women who had sex at a young age that don’t appreciate the next generation foisting their accusations of abuse upon their childhoods, out of some well-meaning streak of narrowmindedness that standardizes human experience into a set of starched categories.

        • kuu says:

          they should. they are enablers that will make it look like teen girls want sex from older people. but it takes two to tango. so we need to tell older parties to back down, be it 13 with 17, 15 with 21, or whatever. Like when Kate Hunt did not back down from her relationship(turns out she has a summer birthday so she had whole senior year as an 18 year old and had sexualy encounterd her 14 year old lovvie)

        • TG says:

          Thank you Corey. you summed up exactly what I’ve been thinking about this whole thing. Those of us who lived through the 70s need to stand up to younger people and tell them, yes, things were different, and yes, we made decisions about our sexuality at an early age. At the time, to do so was a giant “fuck you” to the patriarchy. And is still a giant “fuck you” to the patriarchy, IMO. If someone has been abused at that age, by someone they didn’t want to be with, I feel for them. But the abuse victim’s definition does not trump someone else’s reality.

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