The enduring charm of Bowie

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There is no stereotypical David Bowie fan and therein lies the secret to his sustained success, which has lasted half a century. His body of work and contribution to culture will be celebrated long after his death on Sunday 10 January, two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his last album, Blackstar.

Dr Toija Cinque, Senior Lecturer in media studies at Deakin University, is the co-author of Enchanting David Bowie. She believes his broad appeal was a result of, ‘His ability to straddle mainstream and avant garde.’

Bowie made it acceptable to be different by embracing androgyny and eccentricity like no other artist. ‘He offered an opportunity for those who saw themselves on the margins of society to feel understood,’ Dr Cinque says.

It was arguably Bowie’s proficiency in crafting alternate personas that strengthened his universal appeal. To escape himself and play characters such as Ziggy Stardust gave him freedom. ‘His family had a history of mental illness – creativity gave him a way to work through issues,’ Dr Cinque explains.

'He offered an opportunity for those who saw themselves on the margins of society to feel understood.'

Dr Toija Cinque,
Deakin University

While his work as an artist will always be revered, Dr Cinque points out that he was an excellent marketer, too. It was his strategic ability to evolve as the world did that enabled him to cast a spell on new fans without alienating his existing devotees. ‘His father was a public relations man, so growing up Bowie learnt the power of the media,’ Dr Cinque says.

A professional to the end, even his departure from this world was a carefully executed closing act. He knew precisely what he was doing when he recorded and released Blackstar. Dr Cinque notes, ‘Fans were on a high a few days ago when his album was released. This was his goodbye album.’

Dr Cinque is working with Deakin University colleague, Associate Professor Sean Redmond, on a new book about the international fandom that Bowie drew. The pair will learn about the impact he had on people’s lives when they conduct interviews with fans in Australia, Tokyo, Berlin, Amsterdam and London.

To find out more about the upcoming David Bowie focus groups contact Dr Toija Cinque: toija.cinque@deakin.edu.au or Prof. Sean Redmond: s.redmond@deakin.edu.au

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Dr Toija Cinque
Dr Toija Cinque

Senior Lecturer, School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University
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