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It's a central theme of his pre-Ziggy masterpiece "Life on Mars?" (1971), a haunting meditation on the gap between the consumption (and creation) of media and the experience of life, which grotesquely observes:
"It's on America's tortured brow
That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
Now the workers have struck for fame
'Cause Lennon's on sale again."
1974's Diamond Dogs, which began as Bowie's attempt to translate 1984 into a rock opera idiom, naturally takes on the press as part of Big Brother's apparatus:
You could mistake that for typical rock star griping about bad publicity--though few rock stars would compare those who "wrote up scandal" with "les tricoteuses," the women who knitted by the side of the guillotine during the French Revolution.
"I'm having so much fun with the poisonous people
Spreading rumours and lies and stories they made up."
Adopting the Big Brother-ish persona of the Thin White Duke in 1976, at the height of his cocaine-fueled mania, Bowie released on the album Station to Station a song called "TVC 15" that remains ahead of its time as a nightmare vision of total absorption by media, represented by "a very good friend of mine," the singer's "quadraphonic"hologramic" multichannel television set:
"I brought my baby home, she sat around forlorn
She saw my TVC 15, baby's gone
She crawled right in, oh my, she crawled right in my
So hologramic, oh my TVC 15
Oh, so demonic, oh my TVC 15."
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