The Blackstar: Persona, Narrative, and Late Style in the Mourning of David Bowie on Reddit

  • Samiran Culbert Newcastle University, UK
Keywords: Persona, Mourning, David Bowie, Late Style, Narrative, Reddit


This article considers how David Bowie’s last persona, The Blackstar, framed his death through the narratives of mourning it provoked on the social media site Reddit. The official narrative of death, through the media, and the unofficial narrative of death, through the fan, can contradict each other, with fans usually bringing their own lived experiences to the mourning process. David Bowie is a performer of personas. While Bowie died in 2016, his personas have continued to live on, informing his legacy, his work, and his death reception. Through the concepts of persona, narrative, authenticity, late style, and mourning, this article finds that Bowie’s Blackstar persona actively constructs fan’s interaction with Bowie’s death. Instead of separate and contradicting narratives, this article finds that users on Reddit underpin and extend the official narrative of his death, using Bowie’s persona as a way to construct and establish their own mourning. As such, Bowie’s last persona is further entrenched as one of authentic mourning, of a genius constructing his own passing. With these narratives, fans construct their own personas, informing how they too would like to die: artistically and with grace.

Author Biography

Samiran Culbert, Newcastle University, UK

AHRC PhD Candidate at Newcastle University ICMuS



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How to Cite
Culbert, S. (2020). The Blackstar: Persona, Narrative, and Late Style in the Mourning of David Bowie on Reddit. Persona Studies, 6(1), 43-55.
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