12 Great David Bowie Moments In Pop Culture
David Bowie had a sporadic and memorable acting career, but his impact on pop culture goes beyond physical appearances. Here are some of the best movie/TV moments that use Bowie songs (in one form or another).
'The Perks of Being a Wallflower'
All the homages that popped up on social media in the wake of Bowie's death make something very clear: the man and his music had a unique effect on people, especially young people, who feel alone, or alienated, or weird. Charlie (Logan Lerman) has the perfect reaction to hearing Bowie for the first time: "I feel infinite."
'American Horror Story: Freak Show'
It seems pretty obvious that 'American Horror Story' wouldn't exist without Bowie. He opened a window in mainstream pop culture for self-confident strangeness that Ryan Murphy and Co. have followed through. In the fourth season, the show finally gave him a glorious homage: a freak-tastic cover of "Life on Mars."
Bowie's song "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" was originally written for the film 'Cat People,' but it also works perfectly in Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds,' as Jewish orphan Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent) puts on her best femme fatale outfit and prepares her final revenge against the Nazis.
'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou'
Bowie's songs are so iconic, they can resist even the most drastic changes. For much of Wes Anderson's 'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,' Seu Jorge hovers quietly in the background, playing acoustic Portuguese covers of Bowie songs. It makes for a unique and calming soundtrack.
'Guardians of the Galaxy'
'Guardians of the Galaxy''s psychedelic sci-fi harkens back to the '70s, both in music and in feel. "Moonage Daydream," from 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars,' soundtracks one scene, but in a Facebook tribute to Bowie, director James Gunn said "I always thought the album's character was felt far beyond that, in the aesthetics, in the integral and seemingly-natural linking in popular culture of '70's rock and space opera."
In some ways, no music since Bowie's Ziggy Stardust has done a better job of expressing the ecstasy and mystery of outer space. 'The Martian' also went to that well for its story about a literal man trapped in the stars.
This sequence is an homage to a similar one in the 1986 French film 'Mauvais Sang,' which also features a young person running through the streets to the sound of 'Modern Love.' Thirty years later, there's still no song that better expresses the exuberance of being young in the city.
There was a dark side to Bowie's music, of course. The drug-fueled songs he made with Iggy Pop in Berlin provide an acute soundtrack to the heroin binges of 'Trainspotting.'
When Ewan McGregor's Christian reaches across time to find music for expressing his love to Nicole Kidman's Satine, he grabs a snippet of Bowie's "Heroes" for its message of infinite power and possibility.
Not all uses of Bowie's music are adoring. When Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) takes aim at high school boys, Mott the Hoople's version of Bowie's "All the Young Dudes" plays over the shots of baggy pants and backwards hats.
'Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story'
There was no element of classic rock that 'Walk Hard' didn't lovingly spoof. John C. Reilly's swinging, doo-wop cover of "Starman" is hilarious and ridiculous, while also proving the flexibility of Bowie's songs.
'Flight of the Conchords'
When Bret develops body image issues, he naturally turns to his idol Bowie, who did more than anyone to prove that identity and looks are the most malleable things in the world. It climaxes in a hilarious homage to Bowie's best songs and outfits.
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