So, a couple days ago – I blogged about David Bowie’s passing and how his life/career affected my own. I didn’t go into great detail but the gist of it is – his very existence made me open my eyes and see life beyond my own experience. I have questioned things, I have learned, I have evolved as a person.
I am continually evolving as a person.
For the most part, we are all evolving, daily. We grow, we learn, we take in new information and new experiences and we change. I am not the same person I was at 20. I am not even the same person I was at 30. And neither are you, or anyone else. Life is change.
So when I read a lot of commentary about David Bowie’s sketchy past, alleged statutory rape, various other things, it sucked to have to try and reconcile the artist I admired with the (apparent) douchebag he was, seducing a 13/14/15 (depending on the source) girl (or many, again, depending on the source) girl back in the 1970s.
Being an asshat. Being a rapist. Being anything at all, ever, good or bad, does not invalidate every other choice you have made. No, I am not excusing what happened or saying that “well, the 70s were a different time and it was cool for grown men to fuck preteen groupies, especially because they were consensual”. I am not going to say – well, the law is unclear in places, or 13-year-old girls can consent in this place so it was natural to assume… No. None of that. Regardless of whether the child wanted it, she was a child and cannot make that decision for herself. It wasn’t legal in LA at the time, either, but whatever.
I am just saying, that mistakes made do not invalidate the evolution of a person over time. If the allegations are true (and I’m always inclined to believe the victim, because coming out as a rape victim is fucking hard as Hell and the percentage of erroneous/false accusations is miniscule) then yeah, young David Bowie was a twat. Worse, a criminal. Some might say monster. Rapists are monsters, in my book.
But does that mean he did not have musical genius? That he wasn’t a talented actor? That he did not change the way people in America look at gender and help break a long-existing mold? That all of his later activism was invalid? That his poking at a young MTV’s racial inequality didn’t matter?
He was, like we all are, a mixed bag.
We are all problematic.
One of my favorite people, who I sincerely hope to meet one day, is Meghan Tonjes. She posted a video back in 2014 about this very subject concerning two people in pop culture specifically, John Green and Tyler Oakley. Take a gander at her adorable face and wise words below, if you want. And also, maybe take a few minutes to read this article by Dr. Rebecca Hains, Reconciling David Bowie’s Genius With Rape.
None of this addresses the racial issue however. Why people are so quick to dismiss a white celebrity’s sexual crimes and demonize a black one’s. But I think it is valid either way. I will always have fond memories of Bill Cosby. He was the first black man I remember seeing on TV and I wanted to be one of the Huxtable kids for a long time. His face on Nickelodeon (and the pudding pops commercials) were a part of my childhood and even now, sometimes I still remember my sister sitting on the potty going “Hey Hey Hey, Bombs Away!” in his Fat Albert voice (she was like, four, haha and she’ll probably murder me for posting that memory).
But the things he is accused of are shitty. Terrible and monstrous and evil. But do those acts negate every good deed he has ever done? Should we wipe all memory of him from our societal memory? Maybe some people think so. Certainly, they’re allowed to believe that. But I don’t believe in absolutes, and no one is irredeemable.
Of course, he has to want to be redeemed, and that’s a whole other issue – because I’ve not seen a stitch of remorse or anything resembling it from Mr. Cosby…
I just wanted to address that publicly.
I am not saying the man was a saint. I am not denying that he may have even been a monster.
But he still touched my life in a positive way and I am going to be okay celebrating that, even if he (and Robin Wiliams, and others because every time some celebrity dies, a thousand stories I never heard before come out about them and their dark pasts) wasn’t perfect.
Because at the end of the day, we are all flawed.
We are all problematic.
Note: Image is “beyond the binary” by (me)