Leadership, Popular Culture and Social Change
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Leadership, Popular Culture and Social Change

Edited by Kristin M.S. Bezio and Kimberly Yost

The newest generation of leaders was raised on a steady diet of popular culture artifacts mediated through technology, such as film, television and online gaming. As technology expands access to cultural production, popular culture continues to play an important role as an egalitarian vehicle for promoting ideological dissent and social change. The chapters in this book examine works and creators of popular culture – from literature to film and music to digital culture – in order to address the ways in which popular culture shapes and is shaped by leaders around the globe as they strive to change their social systems for the better.
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Chapter 7: An idol leader: David Bowie, self-representation, otherness and sexual identity

Shawna Guenther


In this chapter, Guenther discusses how David Bowie’s cultural production changed the way we see the world. Bowie’s prolific creative output breaches diverse cultural, political and individual boundaries—identity and sexual ambiguity, authoritarianism and revolution, apocalypse and messianic cultism, fanaticism and celebrity, futurity and intergalactic life—while suggesting the temporal solution of wild escapism, through drugs, alcohol, sex and, perhaps most importantly, art. While other musicians have used their celebrity for public leadership, Bowie used all facets of creative production and the establishment of his own microcosmic presence as the sources of his influencing power. His lyrics frequently allude to other cultural productions, and in turn, others draw on Bowie’s work as influences in their own music, as fragments of their own songs, and as important pieces that deserve homage.

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