I am afraid of Americans was written in 1995 by the two colleagues/friends but was published in 1997 on Bowie’s Earthling album.¬†And when David Bowie and Brian Eno come into play, you already know that you’ll hear great music

But let’s take a small step backwards. America is a country that has always inspired Bowie, for better or worse. In Young Americans, for example, he explores the country with the eyes of a disillusioned boy. Of those who dreamt of this land so much that they were disappointed when they reached it. A conflictual relationship: veneration and great distrust. As he himself says: scanning life through the picture windows – Young Americans.

Never was it hate

In I am afraid of Americans, Bowie goes a little further, but never to hatred. He himself wants to specify this in a statement:

….It’s not as truly hostile about Americans about Americans as say Born in the U.S.A. it’s merely sardonic. I was traveling in Java when [its] first McDonald’s went up: it was like, “for fuck’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. “. …..

We also remember, permeated by the same contrasting sentiment, the beautiful 1985 This is not America.

The antagonist Johnny

A sort of antagonist appears in the song’s lyrics: Johnny. Johnny is a faceless mannequin that moves only in the unbridled desire to possess objects: a coca-cola, an airplane. He represent the capitalist mentality identified with America, which frightened so much the White Duke. For this reason the song appeared for the first time as a soundtrack for Showgirls, directed by Paul Verhoeven. The same videoclip of the song is inspired by the movie Taxi Driver, recalling the madness that can be achieved in a total absence of values. The dream of when he was child and later the disappointment.

This mixture of feelings towards the U.S.A. is for many people related to the period when the artist lived there and risked his life because of his drug abuse. In Los Angeles he touched the bottom. When he moved to Berlin in 1977, he closed the drugs chapter forever. And he helped many of his friends and colleagues, such as Iggie Pop, to do the same.