Sensationalism has its appeal. Used by commercial news networks it replaces substance. In politics in 1968 in Chicago it gave us the antics of Yippy leader Jerry Rubin successfully attracting television cameras (no fault of the media, in my opinion) in order to make what he thought was the coming revolution. In politics today it has given us Donald Trump's hyperbolic style. In music in the 1970s it gave us the antics of a musical group called Kiss. Musicians were turning to sensationalism to attract attention because they wanted to sell records, and in the '70s David Bowie was among them.
For Europeans, Kiss had to change the SS in the name so it did not resemble the German Nazi SS insignia. Bowie was famously quoted as saying: "I believe very strongly in fascism." He added that "Adolf Hitler was one of the first rock stars", explaining that the Nazi leader knew how to "work an audience" to his advantage. It was a chaotic time in his career. He later gave up took back the comments.
Bowie at age fifteen had been musically talented on a variety of instruments. He was a prolific writer, and he was advanced in the 1970s on the issue of race. He was an able businessman. So too is Madonna, who admired him. Another talent who used glitz is Lady Gaga (doing us no harm).
Sensationalism has worked because adolescents and some adults have bought it, and it has become a part of our culture. Bowie's glitz and changing identities appealed to the angst and narcissism of adolescence, and some kids took it as a message that it was okay to be different.
R.I.P. David Bowie
Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.