David Bowie – I’m Afraid of Americans

“‘I’m Afraid of Americans’ was written by myself and Eno,” said Bowie about this 1997 tune.  “It’s not as truly hostile about Americans as say ‘Born in the USA’: it’s merely sardonic. I was traveling in Java when the first McDonalds went up: it was like, ‘for f**k’s sake.’ The invasion by any homogenized culture is so depressing, the erection of another Disney World in, say, Umbria, Italy, more so. It strangles the indigenous culture and narrows expression of life.” (source)

It would thus appear this song is about US cultural imperialism, or more generally, globalization. Globalization is about countries and their economies and the people in them, as societies, becoming more and more connected and interdependent. This closeness is brought about through trade, technology and it being much easier to traverse the planet than in previous centuries. A concern about globalization related to this song is the gradual, even organic imposition of a sameness the world over.

Bowie has certainly led a shape-shifting career hard to pin down, but is himself a world-recognized brand…


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