An Ode to David Bowie and Alan Rickman
There’s been an article swimming around my head for the last couple of weeks. The premise was how nothing great ever happened by following the rules.
And then we lost David Bowie.
I woke up Monday morning to a slew of Facebook IM’s and text messages. It was too early in the morning for general conversation. They all repeated the same incantation – Casey, my condolences. What had I missed that my friends and family knew before me? I quickly tapped the Facebook app icon (disturbing I know, that Facebook would be the fastest source), and there it was at the top of my feed with my name tagged, David Bowie dead at 69.
David Bowie might just be responsible for my entire life’s flavor. I grew up in a tiny town in Eastern Washington. This town is also several hours drive away from any city of significance. Because of this, there was not a lot of artistic diversity to experience being that this was pre-internet and mass media. There was one tiny video rental place smaller then my current living room, Tiger Town Video. One day, when I was about 5 years old, (it was just my mom and me then), we rented The Labyrinth.
I don’t remember watching The Labyrinth for the first time but I remember what came after. It was my new favorite movie, still is. My mother at one point asked the Tiger Town clerk if we could purchase the video from them and they responded that wasn’t possible since it was being rented a few times per week….it was us. I had never seen anything like it, granted I was 5, but the impression had taken hold.
This film had a dark, sexy, and dangerous feel that continues to define me today. My taste in art, music, film, and literature all seemingly stem from this. I prefer Tool to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Giger to Warhol, The Crow to Clerks, Final Fantasy VII to Mario Kart, Slytherin to Gryffindor, and Phantom of the Opera to Grease. In the third grade my teacher sat with my mother to possibly seek professional help. I was smart and had friends, but I insisted in dressing in only black. I was quite the trend setter.
I don’t remember how the conversation came about, but I clearly remember my mom telling me how Jareth was a singer named David Bowie and that he made music for older people. It would be a few years until I got to listen to his other-worldy take on rhythm. And this is where our favorite star man comes into play with never following the rules, because David Bowie certainly did not, and David Bowie was certainly defined by greatness.
As an artist I often hear statements that start with – “You should always…” and “You should never…”. Even in the art world there are rules to follow, but I feel it is imperative not to. At Art School I spent the first year learning all the rules to color theory, camera angles, animation, lighting, you name it. Then I spent the second year learning how to break them. It was a process that had appealed to me my entire life and I appreciated the amazing creative leadership I received at the Art Institute of Seattle that was brave enough to encourage us to boldly ignore the status-quo. Nothing great ever happened by following the rules.
From the very beginning, David Bowie did not follow the rules, and the world is a more colorful and wondrous place because of it. He would never have stood out following the rules. He would never have provoked as much thought following the rules. He would never have stirred as much controversy following the rules. He would never have made the whole world mourn following the rules.
There’s a star man waiting in the sky, he’d like to come and meet us, but he’d think he’d blow our minds.
It was Bowie all along, and he did indeed. Thank you David Bowie for the inspiration, the daring, the wanderlust.
Then there was today, Thursday, another morning waking to another loss – Alan Rickman. Both talents, days apart, 69 and taken by cancer.
If you don’t know Alan Rickman I guarantee you know his voice. There is an absolutely singular cadence to Rickman the can both melt your heart and make your skin crawl all at once. I have always said I would pay good money to get an Alan Rickman GPS voice. “Turn left in a quarter mile….you utter….fool”.
Rickman also possessed that dark, sexy, dangerous appeal that I gravitated toward. For over 30 years he convinced audiences world wide that maybe it was the villain you should be rooting for. Rickman poked parts of our brain that made us consider the other side of the story.
A few months back I went to dinner with a couple girl friends, Melissa and Marissa (cute I know), and we made of list of Hollywood’s sexiest. The list went like this – Emily Blunt, Eddie Redmayne, Eva Green, Sam Rockwell, General Martok, and Alan Rickman. I remember because I made this banner –
In his own delightfully mournful way, Alan Rickman did not follow the rules. He made droll and wicked, lovable and endearing. He was never the hero on screen, but he was almost always the hero for the observer.
His most iconic role was of course Professor Snape in the decades long Harry Potter Series. As I said earlier this morning on Facebook, his role as Snape stole the show among an absolutely stunning and brilliant cast. Not a small feat. Rickman as Snape was the balance that made Harry Potter genuinely soulful and rich. He said about his character’s final performance in Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows, how incredible the redemption arc was to portray such a thing. That generally in Hollywood you are simply playing in 2d. That was one part the writing of Rawling, and ten parts Rickman. There is no question that the sorrowful wickedness of Snape could ever have been played to the caliber that was uniquely his.
I remember falling in love with him in Sense and Sensibility. His character – Colonel Brandon – was written old and boring, but he was anything but. He loved Marianne Dashwood, played by Kate Winslet, with a sad and distant affection that won over viewers…and the girl in the end, in a way that only Rickman could have possibly pulled off.
Thank you Alan Rickman for being a beacon for us demented and romantic fools.
David Bowie and Alan Rickman were absolutely unique. David Bowie an awe inspiring icon, Alan Rickman a quiet force of nature inviting you to the dark side. Nothing great even happened following the rules.
by – casey andrews
EDIT / ADDITION:
Here is the video containing Rickman’s quote regarding the final outcome of Snape – (I jumbled the quote)