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פ.י.מ.פ.

(Analyzing Bowie: It`s No Game (part 2

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Scary Monsters begins with 'It's No Game (part 1)', a track in which Bowie screams in terror as he realizes that he no longer understands the psyche of youth culture, no longer feels like the younger people around him. Since his entire ethics and art were embroiled in youth culture and its problems, this predicament leaves him lost, artistically and ethically. What can he do now? Well, the next eight tracks on the album all develop that theme and work out the problems that come with it, and we hear Bowie learning to accept the situation, learning to adjust his mind to it, learning to think of himself as a responsible adult who can no longer be part of youth culture but can still impart his knowledge and help the kids find their way. Now, for the closing track, he goes back to 'It's No Game', to see what he feels now about the thoughts that initially brought such terror.

Silhouettes and shadows watch the revolution
No more free steps to heaven
Just walkie-talkie - heaven or hearth
Just big heads and drums - full speed and pagan
And it's no game

The opening two lines are the same as in the first version, but oh, how different they feel. Bowie is no longer terrified of the thought of not belonging to youth culture. Now he sounds content, relieved, even amused. The next couple of lines appear only on this version, and they show him getting used to his new position, giving up on the heavenly experiences he was once so eager to obtain in favor of a comfortable life in his own little hearth. Even in this bourgeois life, he seems to concede, there is still connection to heaven, even if it's only walkie-talkie connection. Finally, he seems to be mocking the kind of music youngsters go for these days, as if he's already become a cantankerous old man. It's not his scene anymore.

I am barred from the event
I really don't understand the situation
So where's the moral
People have their fingers broken
To be insulted by these fascists it's so degrading
And it's no game

Documentaries on refugees,
couples 'gainst the target
Throw a rock against the road,
and it breaks into pieces
Draw the blinds on yesterday,
and it's all so much scarier
Put a bullet in my brain,
and it makes all the papers

All of this was in part 1 as well, but again, it sounds completely different. In part one, Bowie was expressing his agonizing inability to do anything about the current state of things, as he no longer knows how to make the kind of music that will change the world. In part two, Bowie seems to be settling into the kind of position he first outlined in 'Fantastic Voyage': someone who can use his music and fame to educate people about what's going on in the world. The lines that express his personal agony are sung dismissively, as if he has got these feelings out of his system by now. But there are other things going on in the world which he can sing about, and he can still impart his knowledge to the young and warn them that life is no game.

Children round the world,
put camel shit on the walls
They're making carpets on treadmills,
or garbage sorting
And it's no game

Writing on walls is a recurring motif in Bowie's work, signifying youth expressing their feelings. We can find allusions to it in 'Song for Bob Dylan', 'Sweet Thing' and 'Somebody Up There Likes Me'. Here we find it again, only this time Bowie does not give it such significance - it rather looks like camel-shit (more commonly referred to as bull-shit) to him. Bowie keeps on looking with amusement at the games young people play, but as the album is drawing to a close he lets them know: I'm out.

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