David Bowie would’ve turned 76 years old on Jan. 8, 2023. The music world will commemorate his life on Jan. 10, the anniversary of his death in 2016.
Beyond his incredible work as a musician, Bowie revolutionized the importance of stage presence and a persona that fed his popularity. He created his alter ego Ziggy Stardust in 1972. The attraction to this character helped his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars fly off the shelves.
An Unexpected “Heroes” Reference
His impact might not have hit the younger generation as prominently without the help of a scene from The Perks of Being a Wallflower in 2012.
The movie features a story of adolescence involving heavy topics like abuse, mental health, and self-injury.
It accurately depicts a time period when teenagers born just before the new millennium intentionally latched onto music they perceived to be outside mainstream popularity.
The main characters consider themselves outcasts. The group bonds over their taste in music throughout the movie with scenes that include songs from the Smiths and a musical performance from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Its two best scenes include one of David Bowie’s biggest hits, “Heroes.” They leave a lasting impact that ties together the angsty teen feeling of the characters and the liberation they feel from their music.
Even though David Bowie music doesn’t exactly qualify as “underground” music that needs to be discovered, most viewers in the age range of the characters (teenagers in 2012) might not have known much about an artist inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame around the same time they were born.
“Heroes” by David Bowie
The first “Heroes” scene includes Emma Watson’s character standing up (impossibly) in the back of a pickup truck while driving through the Fort Pitt Tunnel approaching the main stretch of the city of Pittsburgh while the song blasts in the truck.
The group of friends doesn’t know the name of “the tunnel song” for a long stretch of the movie, however.
They eventually learn this previously unknown artist, who had actually became larger than life during the 1970s, in time for a dramatically (and corny) scene that wraps up the intensity of the adolescent experience.
Charlie, the main character in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, stands in the back of the same truck driving through the Fort Pitt tunnel in the final minutes of the movie.
“There are people who forget what it’s like to be 16 when they turn 17. I know these will all be stories some day. Our pictures will become old photographs. We’ll all become somebody’s mom or dad, but right now these moments are not stories…This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive, and you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder…And in this moment, I swear we are infinite.”
The liberating music blasts as the characters drive toward the Pittsburgh skyline.
While Ziggy Stardust probably didn’t plan it that way 40 years before the movie’s release, “Heroes” unexpectedly took off as a recognizable hit with a generation of angsty teenagers.