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BowieTalk
   >> Interpretation
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eiwob2
(grinning soul)
05/13/03 03:15 PM
"I'm afraid of the world"  

That lyric takes out meaning from the line "I'm afraid of Americans." If he's afraid of the world then he could be singing "i'm afriad of australians" or whatever.

And could someone explain what "I'm afraid of the words" means, please.



Wraith2
(stardust savant)
05/13/03 07:40 PM
Let me point you in the right direction new [re: eiwob2]  

I don't have time to do a really in depth response right now, but consider this quote:

"Globalization = Americanization."

If I say "Where is the elephant, bring me the elephant!" she'll go look for the elephant and bring me the elephant - not the bear or the bone but the elephant. She knows exactly what the elephant is.

EuropeanCanon
(electric tomato)
05/13/03 08:08 PM
I'm Afraid Of Americans new [re: Wraith2]  

In reply to:

That lyric takes out meaning from the line "I'm afraid of Americans." If he's afraid of the world then he could be singing "i'm afriad of australians" or whatever.


In reply to:

"Globalization = Americanization."


Here's a cut 'n' paste of my slightly tongue in cheek interpretation of I'm Afraid Of Americans from several months ago;



Johnny Bull

"The face of America that we have to put up with is the McDonalds/Disney/Coke face. This really homogenous, bland cultural invasion that sweeps over us - which is unfortunate, because the aspects of America that are really magical to us are the things it seems to reject, like black music or the Beat poets." - David Bowie



For most of the 20th century Britain has been extremely susceptible to American culture, be it the Flappers of the 1920s, the beginnings of the long love affair with Hollywood of the 30s or the first explosion of American-led teenage angst and rebellion of the 1950s. As he alluded to in the above quote, Bowie and a number of his fellow countrymen from his generation were hugely influenced by both black music and the Beat poets. Obviously, the American influence is still more than apparent, not only in Britain, but on a worldwide basis. But just as Bowie gripes against America's general ignorance of their more worthy cultural aspects we, as a whole, are equally as guilty. For example, the at-times brilliance of contemporary American literature is largely ignored in favour of the global consumersim and iconography of McDonalds/Disney/Coke - arguably the worst symbols of American culture.

And so, such is the ubiquitous nature of late-20th/early-21st century American culture, I'm Afraid Of Americans offers an ambiguity which means that "Johnny", the songs protagonist, could easily be British, for example, as American.

Be it be by accident or by design - as somewhat of a pseud ("Johnny's an American") - and as someone so deeply ingrained in the omniprescence of American consumer culture (echoed in Bowie's refrain of "God is an American"), to all intents and purposes;

Johnny's in America.

But "Johnny" is also a stereotypical figure used by Bowie to portray the insatiable thirst of those outside America who choose to emulate and embrace all things American: the appearance in the song of the first identifiable and continuing symbol of American globalization - Coca Cola - and the adoration for Hollywood;

Johnny looks up at the stars

the Hollywood of Schwarzenegger, Segal and other all-action "stars".

One can almost imagine Johnny adorned in the great uniform of Americana - the baseball cap - and the line;

Nobody needs anyone

appears to confirm the mass rejection of the sort of intellectual and literary figures that became so vitally important in Bowie's formative years - "...a lot of my generation really did read. Everyone that I knew in that period read at least one book a month." - in favour of corporate icons and the like. The possibilty of his pretence to all things American is enhanced by the line;

They don't even just pretend

These "Johnnies" choose life as a pseudo-American rather than as a pseudo-intellectual!

Bowie has spoken disparagingly about the so-called semi-literate state of the current young generation, particularly the youth of America, and their apparent rejection of conventional forms of literature, and this is mirrored in the description of Johnny and his ilk as Low tech. It enforces the feeling that we are part of an increasingly "dumbed-down" society, despite the paradox of living in a high tech age, and although Bowie informs us that Johnny "wants a brain" it seems the only purpose is, not to improve his intellectual standing, but to attract "pussy" by having the extremely desirable quality of humour;

Johnny wants to think of a joke

Bowie's bewilderment, helplessness and trepidation with the world invasion, and virtual acceptance, of an unseemly and perhaps pernicious culture, a culture that he deems as deeply intrusive to a more cerebral plane of existence, provokes the exasperated cry of "I'm Afraid Of Americans" during the chorus. But ultimately, Bowie wearily resigns himself to the summation that "God is an American".






What do I say to normal people?

Kaoru
(absolute beginner )
05/13/03 10:07 PM
Re: "I'm afraid of the world" new [re: eiwob2]  

I'm not sure,but I think "I'm afraid of the words" means being afraid of what people say,like this.
Example line I just came up with.
"I'm afraid of all the hateful words people say"
At least I think so.Could mean many things.The "I'm afraid of Americans line probably means something about being afraid of American culture,or every other country becoming America like the other people were saying.

Shine,bright morning light now in the air the spring is coming.Sweet blowing wind singing down the hills and valleys.Keep your eyes on me,now we're on the edge of hell.Dear my love,sweet morning light,wait for me you've gone much farther,too far.

Blooby
(kook)
05/14/03 07:31 AM
Re: "I'm afraid of the world" new [re: eiwob2]  

My question is:

What is the link between "I'm afraid of Americans" and "God is an American"?

Just because I believe don't mean I don't think as well

Sysiyo
(thunder ocean)
05/14/03 08:21 AM
Re: "I'm afraid of the world" new [re: Blooby]  

God is an American = Americans have imperilised everything to themselves, including religion.
I'm Afraid Of Americans = I'm afraid of how americans imperialise everything.



T.J. Newton
(stardust savant)
05/14/03 08:22 AM
Re: "I'm afraid of the world" new [re: Blooby]  

In reply to:

What is the link between "I'm afraid of Americans" and "God is an American"?


I've always seen it like that: Americans are very convinced about their wisdom, power, abilities, knowledge, influence, success and technologies. They are positive on that and think everything what comes from the US is perfect and powerful. If so, they imagine God comes from America as well.

or

If Bowie is afraid of Americans, he may be as well afraid of God.

Time and again I tell myself
I'll stay clean tonight
But the little green wheels are following me
Oh no, not again


strangeDivine
(cracked actor)
05/14/03 06:58 PM
Re: I'm Afraid Of Americans new [re: EuropeanCanon]  

In reply to:

Nobody needs anyone


Also, ironically, in the age of 'information,' it seems easier than ever to alienate ourselves from other people emotionally. I can go on the internet and basically order and have just about everything that I need shipped to my house without ever having to make direct contact with another human being.

Outside of certain parts of Pennsylvania, you won't see very many community barn-rasings and the like. We "don't need anybody."



And here's to you Mrs. Robinson. Jesus loves you more than you will know.

Blooby
(kook)
05/15/03 02:21 AM
Re: "I'm afraid of the world" new [re: Sysiyo]  

In reply to:

God is an American = Americans have imperilised everything to themselves, including religion.
I'm Afraid Of Americans = I'm afraid of how americans imperialise everything.


Makes sense to me.

I also have to think of the video where Trent Reznor's character carries a cross at the end. What does this character symbolise? Evil Americans and God as well?



Just because I believe don't mean I don't think as well

Sysiyo
(thunder ocean)
05/15/03 05:30 AM
Re: "I'm afraid of the world" new [re: Blooby]  

In reply to:

I also have to think of the video where Trent Reznor's character carries a cross at the end. What does this character symbolise? Evil Americans and God as well?


Actually I think the message in the video is more specific. Instead of simply being afraid of Americans, Bowie's character is afraid of the violence that is breigh spread around the world from American mass entertainment. However, I haven't really thought into the video's ending...




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