Bowie Turns 65: Pop-Star Iconicity and the Serialization of Self

David Bowie turns 65 today, and among the various birthday tributes and other pieces written for the occasion is this article by David Hudson, appearing in mubi.com’s “The Daily” column: “Bowie @ 65“. Most interesting, to me, is Hudson’s identification of “Bowie’s #1 lesson in staying power: Create a persona and then kill it off with the next one.” Hudson is right, I believe, to single out what amounts to a principle of seriality as the open secret of Bowie’s success — a principle taken up, as Hudson also correctly observes, by Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince in the 1980s. As I’ve recently argued, it’s precisely this principle — with Bowie as a direct influence, no less — that Lady Gaga has begun adapting to the changed medial parameters of twenty-first century convergence culture (see here for a summary). I’ll have more to say about this sort of serialized celebrity soon, but for now: Happy birthday to one of the original progenitors of pop stardom qua serial media remix!

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