“I can’t believe #Ziggy #Stardust died”: Stance, fan identities and multimodality in reactions to the death of David Bowie on Instagram

David Matley

Abstract

Social networking sites (SNSs) have changed the way we mourn. Reactions on SNSs to celebrity death in particular have begun to attract the attention of both academic researchers and the broader media, yet so far linguistic studies thereof remain relatively rare. This study addresses this research gap by examining the pragmatics of Instagram posts labelled #bowie following the death of the musician David Bowie on 10 January 2016. It shows how Instagram users engage in affective stance-taking strategies ranging from disbelief to acceptance. It also suggests that the multimodality of Instagram posts functions as a means of combining grief and identity work within a fan community. The findings are relevant for an understanding of mediatised affect and offer further evidence of a renegotiation of norms of mourning online.

Keywords:
Publication history
Table of contents

1.Introduction

Celebrity deaths increasingly involve large public outpourings of grief (Böhme 2017Böhme, Claudia 2017 “ After Death: Public Mourning, Discourse, and Myth in the Afterlife Representations of a Tanzanian Movie Star.” Critical Arts 31 (5): 61–76. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Brown, Basil, and Bocarnea 2003Brown, William, Michael Basil, and Mihai Bocarnea 2003 “Social Influence of an International Celebrity: Responses to the Death of Princess Diana.” Journal of Communication 53 (4): 587–605. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; McCurdy 2010McCurdy, Patrick 2010 “The King is Dead, Long Live the King: Meditations on Media Events and Michael Jackson.” Celebrity Studies 1 (2): 236–238. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Thomas 2008Thomas, James 2008 “From People Power to Mass Hysteria: Media and Popular Reactions to the Death of Princess Diana.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 11 (3): 362–376. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). In terms of their broad social impact, the deaths of high-profile figures can be seen as “cultural flashpoints” (Schudson 1992Schudson, Michael 1992Watergate in American Memory: How We Remember, Forget, and Reconstruct the Past. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar), symbolic moments that inspire “reflection on societal norms, hopes and fears” (Kitch 2000Kitch, Carolin 2000 “ ‘A News of Feeling As Well As Fact’: Mourning and Memorial In American Newsmagazines.” Journalism 1 (2): 171–195. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 173). At a more individual level, celebrity deaths are moments “in which people feel compelled to assess their identities and beliefs” (Kitch 2000Kitch, Carolin 2000 “ ‘A News of Feeling As Well As Fact’: Mourning and Memorial In American Newsmagazines.” Journalism 1 (2): 171–195. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 174) and to reflect on the meaning of the celebrity for their own life narrative (Courbet and Fourquet-Courbet 2014Courbet, Didier, and Marie-Pierre Fourquet-Courbet 2014 “When a Celebrity Dies …Social Identity, Uses of Social Media, and the Mourning Process among Fans: The Case of Michael Jackson.” Celebrity Studies 5 (3): 275–290. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Harju 2016Harju, Anu 2016 “Imagined Community and Affective Alignment in Steve Jobs’ Memorial Tributes on YouTube.” In Systemic Functional Linguistics in the Digital Age, ed. by Sheena Gardner, and Sian Alsop, 62–80. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing Ltd.Google Scholar; Hills 2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar).

In the era of digitally mediated communication (DMC), social networking sites (SNSs) such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have come to play a central role as arenas where individuals converge online in remembrance of celebrity figures (Burgess, Mitchell, and Münch 2019Burgess, Jean, Peta Mitchell, and Felix Münch 2019 “Social Media Rituals: The Uses of Celebrity Death in Digital Culture.” In A Networked Self: Birth, Life, Death, ed. by Zizi Papacharissi, 224–239. New York: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar; Cesare and Branstad 2017Cesare, Nina, and Jennifer Branstad 2017 “Mourning and Memory in the Twittersphere.” Mortality 1: 82–97. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Klastrup 2018 2018 “Death and Communal Mass-Mourning: Vin Diesel and the Remembrance of Paul Walker.” Social Media + Society 4 (1): 1–11. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Radford and Bloch 2012Radford, Scott, and Peter Bloch 2012 “Grief, Commiseration, and Consumption following the Death of a Celebrity.” Journal of Consumer Culture 12 (2): 137–155. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Van den Bulck and Larsson 2019Van den Bulck, Hilde, and Anders Olof Larsson 2019 “ ‘There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky’: Mourning David #Bowie on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 25 (2): 307–323. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). The social media reactions to the death of musician David Bowie (born David Robert Jones, 8 January 1947–10 January 2016) are of particular interest for the study of mourning, fandom, and the affordances and constraints of DMC. Bowie’s career as a musician spanned over six decades and 25 studio albums; through his experimentation with gender roles and musical styles, Bowie appealed to a diverse audience in a manner unrivalled by other musicians (Black 2017Black, Jack 2017 “The Reification of Celebrity: Global Newspaper Coverage of the Death of David Bowie.” International Review of Sociology 27 (1): 202–224. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Bradley and Page 2017Bradley, Peri and James Page 2017 “David Bowie – The Trans Who Fell to Earth: Cultural Regulation, Bowie and Gender Fluidity.” Continuum 31 (4): 583–595. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Cinque and Redmond 2017Cinque, Toija, and Sean Redmond 2017 “Intersecting David Bowie.” Continuum 31 (4), 495–498. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2019 2019The Fandom of David Bowie. Everyone Says “Hi”. Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Jones 2018Jones, Dylan 2018David Bowie. A Life. London: Windmill Books.Google Scholar; Kardos 2017Kardos, Leah 2017 “Bowie Musicology: Mapping Bowie’s Sound and Music Language across the Catalogue.” Continuum 31 (4): 552–563. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). The social media response to Bowie’s passing prompted widespread commentary and even criticism in traditional media outlets, with some journalists questioning the sincerity of the emotions expressed (e.g. Burchill 2016Burchill, Julie 2016 “Please Spare Us the Sob Signalling over David Bowie.” The Spectator. Last modified 11 January 2016. https://​blogs​.spectator​.co​.uk​/2016​/01​/please​-spare​-us​-the​-sob​-signalling​-over​-david​-bowie/; O’Neill 2016O’Neill, Brendan 2016 “That Thing You’re Feeling about Bowie – It isn’t Grief.” Spiked. Last modified 13 January 2016. http://​www​.spiked​-online​.com​/newsite​/article​/that​-thing​-youre​-feeling​-about​-bowie​-it​-isnt​-grief). The online grief at Bowie’s death thus opened up “a renewed and reflexive dialogue about the public mediation of celebrity death” and highlighted the role of social media in the mourning and memorialisation thereof (Burgess, Mitchell, and Münch 2019Burgess, Jean, Peta Mitchell, and Felix Münch 2019 “Social Media Rituals: The Uses of Celebrity Death in Digital Culture.” In A Networked Self: Birth, Life, Death, ed. by Zizi Papacharissi, 224–239. New York: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar, 231).

Scholars from a number of academic disciplines, including sociology and communications science, have increasingly focused on reactions to celebrity death online (e.g. Cesare and Branstad 2017Cesare, Nina, and Jennifer Branstad 2017 “Mourning and Memory in the Twittersphere.” Mortality 1: 82–97. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Goh and Lee 2011Goh, Dion Hoe-Lian, and Chei Sian Lee 2011 “An Analysis of Tweets in Response to the Death of Michael Jackson.” Aslib Proceedings 63 (5): 432–444. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Sanderson and Cheong 2010Sanderson, Jimmy, and Pauline Hope Cheong 2010 “Tweeting Prayers and Communicating Grief over Michael Jackson Online.” Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 30 (5): 328–340. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Van den Bulck and Larsson 2019Van den Bulck, Hilde, and Anders Olof Larsson 2019 “ ‘There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky’: Mourning David #Bowie on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 25 (2): 307–323. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Thus far, however, linguistic studies of online grieving of celebrity figures remain relatively rare (cf. Klastrup 2018 2018 “Death and Communal Mass-Mourning: Vin Diesel and the Remembrance of Paul Walker.” Social Media + Society 4 (1): 1–11. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Attention has also primarily been focused on SNSs such as Twitter and Facebook, with platforms such as Instagram receiving less interest, despite the multimodal affordances of the latter and its importance for a key millennial demographic (E-Marketer 2016E-Marketer 2016 “Instagram Continues Double-digit Growth.” E-Marketer. Last modified 25 January 2018. https://​www​.emarketer​.com​/Article​/Instagram​-Continues​-Double​-Digit​-Growth​/1013612).

This study addresses this research gap by examining the interplay between stance-taking, fan identities and multimodality in Instagram posts labelled #bowie in the period 11–17 January 2016. It shows how Instagram users engage in a range of stance-taking strategies as part of a process of online mourning. It also suggests that Instagram posts can function as a means of combining grief and identity work within a fan community. The study adds to research into how affect is represented, shared and mediatised in social media and contributes to understandings of renegotiated norms of mourning in DMC.

2.Beyond the parasocial relationship? Fandom and celebrity in digital media

Traditional understandings of fandom have been based on Horton and Wohl’s (1956)Horton, Donald, and R. Richard Wohl 1956 “Mass Communication and Para-social Interaction: Observations on Intimacy at a Distance.” Psychiatry 19 (3): 215–229. CrossrefGoogle Scholar notion of parasociality. Horton and Wohl describe the fan-celebrity relationship in mainstream media as the “illusion of [a] face-face-relationship with the performer” (1956Horton, Donald, and R. Richard Wohl 1956 “Mass Communication and Para-social Interaction: Observations on Intimacy at a Distance.” Psychiatry 19 (3): 215–229. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 215), characterised as “one-sided, nondialectical, controlled by the performer, and not susceptible of mutual development” (223). The parasocial relationship (PSR) is thus one that “exhibits the ‘illusion of intimacy’ between individuals and media personalities” (Radford and Bloch 2012Radford, Scott, and Peter Bloch 2012 “Grief, Commiseration, and Consumption following the Death of a Celebrity.” Journal of Consumer Culture 12 (2): 137–155. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 139), in which the celebrity may be considered a friend, sibling or ersatz father/mother figure, compensating for deficits in “real-life” relationships (Dibble, Hartmann, and Rosaen 2016Dibble, Jayson, Tilo Hartmann, and Sarah F. Rosaen 2016 “Parasocial Interaction and Parasocial Relationship: Conceptual Clarification and a Critical Assessment of Measures.” Human Communication Research 42 (1): 21–44. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Hills 2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar; Turner 2014Turner, Graeme 2014Understanding Celebrity. 2nd edition. London: Sage. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 102–105).

As Dibble, Hartmann and Rosaen point out, some researchers distinguish between parasocial interaction, referring to a particular media exposure situation (e.g. watching a celebrity on television), and the parasocial relationship, referring to the “more enduring (positive or negative) long-term […] relationships or socioemotional bonds that users develop with media performers” (2016, 23–24). Although Horton and Wohl’s (1956)Horton, Donald, and R. Richard Wohl 1956 “Mass Communication and Para-social Interaction: Observations on Intimacy at a Distance.” Psychiatry 19 (3): 215–229. CrossrefGoogle Scholar use of the terms is “somewhat ambiguous” (Dibble, Hartmann, and Rosaen 2016Dibble, Jayson, Tilo Hartmann, and Sarah F. Rosaen 2016 “Parasocial Interaction and Parasocial Relationship: Conceptual Clarification and a Critical Assessment of Measures.” Human Communication Research 42 (1): 21–44. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 24), I use the term parasocial relationship here, particularly as the focus of this study lies on the broader meaningfulness of celebrities for the identity of fans.

Horton and Wohl’s classic model of the PSR has been highly influential, but, as Hills (2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar, 464) makes clear, has led to a negative stereotyping of fandom as being a compensatory relationship by the “socially inept” involving distance and a lack of authenticity. More recently, the nature of fandom has been re-evaluated in terms of how it can go beyond the “second-order intimacy” (Rojek 2001Rojek, Chris 2001Celebrity. London: Reaktion Books.Google Scholar, 52) of the PSR to tangible and meaningful identification (Hills 2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar). Studies have shown that fan-celebrity relationships can mirror elements of social bonds such as long-term “fidelity” (Stevenson 2006Stevenson, Nick 2006David Bowie: Fame, Sound and Vision. Malden, MA: Polity.Google Scholar), raise political awareness (Click, Lee, and Willson Holladay 2017 2017 “‘You’re born to be brave’: Lady Gaga’s Use of Social Media to Inspire Fans’ Political Awareness.” International Journal of Cultural Studies, 20 (6): 603–619. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), and empower fans against bullying and homophobia (Click, Lee, and Willson Holladay 2013Click, Melissa, Hyunji Lee, and Holly Willson Holladay 2013 “Making Monsters: Lady Gaga, Fan Identification, and Social Media.” Popular Music and Society 36 (3): 360–379. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), thus relativising the parasocial/social binary and the “pathological” nature of the PSR (Hills 2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar).

This is particularly true in the context of digital technologies. Galuszka (2015)Galuszka, Patrzyk 2015 “New Economy of Fandom.” Popular Music and Society 38 (1): 25–43. CrossrefGoogle Scholar highlights how audiences have been empowered by DMC, with fans online having a broader spectrum of activities in which they can engage. Social media in particular have transformed the nature of the relationship between fans and celebrities, “blurring the lines between producers and consumers, creating symbiotic relationships between powerful corporations and individual fans, and giving rise to new forms of cultural production” (Pearson 2010Pearson, Roberta 2010 “Fandom in the Digital Era.” Popular Communication 8 (1): 84–95. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 84). By communicating via social media, fans can now engage in a visible and public exchange with their favourite celebrity, allowing users to express their opinions and fan identities to both the fan community and the public at large. The result of this is that “substantial elements of this relationship […] no longer look like the ‘simulation’ of a conventionally social relationship at all” (Turner 2014Turner, Graeme 2014Understanding Celebrity. 2nd edition. London: Sage. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 76), and that fan-celebrity interactions are now a normative element of media culture (Hills 2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar, 463).

One key issue that is raised by social media’s impact on celebrity and fandom is therefore that of authenticity (Black 2017Black, Jack 2017 “The Reification of Celebrity: Global Newspaper Coverage of the Death of David Bowie.” International Review of Sociology 27 (1): 202–224. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Ellcessor 2012Ellcessor, Elizabeth 2012 “Tweeting @feliciaday: Online Social Media, Convergence, and Subcultural Stardom.” Cinema Journal 51 (2): 46–66. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Hills 2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar; Marwick 2013Marwick, Alice 2013Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar; Marwick and boyd 2011b 2011b “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 17 (2): 139–158. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Social media facilitate inferred intimacy via access to “backstage” behaviour (Ellcessor 2012Ellcessor, Elizabeth 2012 “Tweeting @feliciaday: Online Social Media, Convergence, and Subcultural Stardom.” Cinema Journal 51 (2): 46–66. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Marwick and boyd 2011b 2011b “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 17 (2): 139–158. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), and allow for celebrity performances of a “public private self” (Marshall 2010Marshall, P. David 2010 “The Promotion and Presentation of the Self: Celebrity as Marker of Presentational Media.” Celebrity Studies 1 (1): 35–48. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 44–45), whereby what would conventionally be aspects of private self-identity are publicly played out for the networked audience (Marwick 2013Marwick, Alice 2013Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar, 213). This is not to say that fan-celebrity hierarchies no longer exist: as Marwick and boyd point out, celebrity is “a co-performance that requires fan deference and mutual recognition of unequal status to succeed” (2011b 2011b “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 17 (2): 139–158. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 155). Yet notions of authenticity are now renegotiated and regulated in online media between celebrities and the fans themselves (Click, Lee, and Willson Holladay 2013Click, Melissa, Hyunji Lee, and Holly Willson Holladay 2013 “Making Monsters: Lady Gaga, Fan Identification, and Social Media.” Popular Music and Society 36 (3): 360–379. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Hills 2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar).

Overall, therefore, social media have ‘depathologised the parasocial’ (Marwick and boyd 2011b 2011b “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 17 (2): 139–158. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 148) and transformed it into what Hills (2016) 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar terms multisocial interaction: “fans can simultaneously draw on celebrities as a resource within their self-narratives and share and perform these narratives with multiple fan others (both known and imagined)” (2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar, 471). Thus the fan-celebrity dyad has been shifted towards a more triadic form of interaction in which authenticity and fandom are co-constructed, monitored and reflected upon within digital fan communities (Harju 2016Harju, Anu 2016 “Imagined Community and Affective Alignment in Steve Jobs’ Memorial Tributes on YouTube.” In Systemic Functional Linguistics in the Digital Age, ed. by Sheena Gardner, and Sian Alsop, 62–80. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing Ltd.Google Scholar).

3.Stance-taking in social media

As well as being sites of information-sharing, social media are “emotional media” (Döveling, Harju, and Sommer 2018Döveling, Katrin, Anu Harju, and Denise Sommer 2018 “From Mediatized Emotion to Digital Affect Cultures: New Technologies and Global Flows of Emotion.” Social Media + Society 4 (1): 1–11. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 1), in which the sharing of emotion has become central to notions of identity and community. On SNSs, users converge around expressions of emotion such as grief or anger, forming affective publics (Papacharissi 2015Papacharissi, Zizi 2015Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology, and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar, 2016 2016 “Affective Publics and Structures of Storytelling: Sentiment, Events and Mediality.” Information, Communication & Society 19 (3): 307–324. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Papacharissi and Oliveira 2012Papacharissi, Zizi, and Maria de Fatima Oliveira 2012 “Affective News and Networked Publics: The Rhythms of News Storytelling on #Egypt.” Journal of Communication 62 (2): 266–282. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) – “networked publics that are mobilized and connected, identified, and potentially disconnected through expressions of sentiment” (Papacharissi 2016 2016 “Affective Publics and Structures of Storytelling: Sentiment, Events and Mediality.” Information, Communication & Society 19 (3): 307–324. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 311). Within fan communities, too, expressions of emotional bonding with celebrity figures play a key role in both the interaction between fans and celebrities and among fans themselves (Cinque 2016Cinque, Toija 2016 “Digital Shimmer: Popular Music and the Intimate Nexus between Fan and Star.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 440–455. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar; Hills 2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar; Marshall 2010Marshall, P. David 2010 “The Promotion and Presentation of the Self: Celebrity as Marker of Presentational Media.” Celebrity Studies 1 (1): 35–48. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Marwick and boyd 2011b 2011b “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 17 (2): 139–158. CrossrefGoogle Scholar).

Linguistically, such expressions of emotion are a form of affective stance-taking. Stance is “a public act by a social actor, achieved dialogically through overt communicative means, of simultaneously evaluating objects, positioning subjects (self and others), and aligning with other subjects” (Du Bois 2007Du Bois, John W. 2007 “The Stance Triangle.” In Stancetaking in Discourse: Subjectivity, Evaluation, Interaction, ed. by Robert Englebretson, 139–182. Amsterdam & Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 163). Du Bois’ (2007)Du Bois, John W. 2007 “The Stance Triangle.” In Stancetaking in Discourse: Subjectivity, Evaluation, Interaction, ed. by Robert Englebretson, 139–182. Amsterdam & Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar model of the stance triangle has been used to analyse stance in face-to-face (FTF) communication (Figure 1). By expressing an evaluation through linguistic means, such as the utterance I’m afraid of Americans, a speaker simultaneously foregrounds their subjectivity through the pronoun I, expresses an orientation towards an object (Americans) and also aligns themselves with other speakers who share that position (cf. Du Bois 2007Du Bois, John W. 2007 “The Stance Triangle.” In Stancetaking in Discourse: Subjectivity, Evaluation, Interaction, ed. by Robert Englebretson, 139–182. Amsterdam & Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 159). Thus Du Bois’ model sees stance in terms of dialogicality and intersubjectivity, whereby “the stancetaker’s words derive from, and further engage with, the words of those who have spoken before” (2007Du Bois, John W. 2007 “The Stance Triangle.” In Stancetaking in Discourse: Subjectivity, Evaluation, Interaction, ed. by Robert Englebretson, 139–182. Amsterdam & Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 140).

Figure 1.The stance triangle (Du Bois 2007Du Bois, John W. 2007 “The Stance Triangle.” In Stancetaking in Discourse: Subjectivity, Evaluation, Interaction, ed. by Robert Englebretson, 139–182. Amsterdam & Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 163)
Figure 1.

The affordances of SNSs such as multimodality and emoji make them “stance-rich” environments that encourage the expression of feelings and evaluations (Barton and Lee 2013Barton, David, and Carmen Lee 2013Language Online. Investigating Digital Texts and Practices. London: Routledge. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Lee and Chau 2018Lee, Carmen, and Dennis Chau 2018 “Language as Pride, Love, and Hate: Archiving Emotions through Multilingual Instagram Tags.” Discourse, Context & Media 22: 21–29. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Photo-sharing sites such as Instagram offer a range of stance-taking features, of which the ability to post images is in itself an integral component (Barton and Lee 2013Barton, David, and Carmen Lee 2013Language Online. Investigating Digital Texts and Practices. London: Routledge. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 91). Further features such as filters allow greater control over images, and via comment and like functions users can evaluate posts, thus enabling users to employ images as both stance-taking resources – the means of making an evaluation – and stance objects – the object that users can evaluate (Barton and Lee 2013Barton, David, and Carmen Lee 2013Language Online. Investigating Digital Texts and Practices. London: Routledge. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 90–91). One further central feature of SNSs is hashtags (such as #ILoveIt, #sad). Hashtags are a “form of social tagging that allows microbloggers to embed metadata in social media posts” (Zappavigna 2015Zappavigna, Michele 2015 “Searchable Talk: the Linguistic Functions of Hashtags.” Social Semiotics 25 (3): 274–291. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 274). While their primary function is to make content searchable, hashtags can also perform a range of functions including stance-taking (Evans 2016Evans, Ash 2016 “Stance and Identity in Twitter Hashtags.” Language@internet 13 (1). Last modified 2016 https://​www​.languageatinternet​.org​/articles​/2016​/evans; Giaxoglou 2018 2018 “#JeSuisCharlie? Hashtags as Narrative Resources in Contexts of Ecstatic Sharing.” Discourse, Context & Media 22: 13–30. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Lee and Chau 2018Lee, Carmen, and Dennis Chau 2018 “Language as Pride, Love, and Hate: Archiving Emotions through Multilingual Instagram Tags.” Discourse, Context & Media 22: 21–29. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Wikström 2014Wikström, Peter 2014#srynotfunny: Communicative Functions of Hashtags on Twitter. SKY Journal of Linguistics 27: 127–152. www​.linguistics​.fi​/julkaisut​/SKY2014​/Wikstrom​.pdf; Zappavigna 2015Zappavigna, Michele 2015 “Searchable Talk: the Linguistic Functions of Hashtags.” Social Semiotics 25 (3): 274–291. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Zappavigna and Martin 2018Zappavigna, Michele, and James Martin 2018 “#Communing Affiliation: Social Tagging as a Resource for Aligning around Values in Social Media.” Discourse, Context & Media 22: 4–12. CrossrefGoogle Scholar).

Importantly, the nature of communication on SNSs has an impact on the dynamics of the stance triangle. Du Bois sees stance as taking a position on content that is “locatable in the prior discourse” (2007, 149), i.e. as a response by Subject 2 to a previous utterance by Subject 1 (Figure 1). However, on Instagram, a post usually has no immediate “prior discourse”. Thus, the “dialogicality” that forms the basis of the stance triangle is one that arguably takes place with a broader community of users, linked in a “structure of feeling” (Papacharissi 2015Papacharissi, Zizi 2015Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology, and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar, 118) via the “ambient affiliation” that hashtags afford (Zappavigna 2015Zappavigna, Michele 2015 “Searchable Talk: the Linguistic Functions of Hashtags.” Social Semiotics 25 (3): 274–291. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 276).

4.Grief and mourning online

Grief is “an individual’s response to loss” (Buglass 2010Buglass, Edith 2010 “Grief and Bereavement Theories.” Nursing Standard 24 (41): 44–47. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 44) and has both psychological and social dimensions. Psychologically, grief work involves a “cognitive process of confronting a loss […] and working towards detachment from the deceased” (Stroebe and Schut 1999Stroebe, Margaret, and Henk Schut 1999 “The Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement: Rationale and Description.” Death Studies 23 (3): 197–224. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 199). One influential model of grief work is Kübler-Ross and Kessler’s five-stage model (2005Kübler-Ross, Elizabeth, and David Kessler 2005On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar), suggesting that individuals pass through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance in mourning.11.Kübler-Ross and Kessler’s model is not prescriptive but can be seen as a “loose pathway” which mourners follow in coming to terms with loss (Brubaker, Hayes, and Dourish 2013Brubaker, Jed, Gillian Hayes, and Paul Dourish 2013 “Beyond the Grave: Facebook as a Site for the Expansion of Death and Mourning.” The Information Society 29 (3): 152–163. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 153). A further model is the Dual Process Model (Stroebe and Schut 1999Stroebe, Margaret, and Henk Schut 1999 “The Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement: Rationale and Description.” Death Studies 23 (3): 197–224. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2010 2010 “The Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement: A Decade On.” OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying 61 (4): 273–289. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), which describes how individuals oscillate between loss-oriented coping (e.g. rumination about the deceased) and restoration-oriented coping (e.g. adjusting to resultant changes) following a bereavement.

Socially, the practices of mourning and remembering the dead have been influenced by historical and cultural factors. As a result of the “sequestration of death in late modernity” (Klastrup 2015Klastrup, Lisbeth 2015 “ ‘I Didn’t Know Her, but…’: Parasocial Mourning of Mediated Deaths on Facebook RIP Pages.” New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia 21 (1–2): 146–164. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 149), grief became a “compartmentalised and private experience” (Cesare and Branstad 2017Cesare, Nina, and Jennifer Branstad 2017 “Mourning and Memory in the Twittersphere.” Mortality 1: 82–97. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2). Yet towards the end of the 20th century, death and mourning re-entered public life via digital technologies (Klastrup 2015Klastrup, Lisbeth 2015 “ ‘I Didn’t Know Her, but…’: Parasocial Mourning of Mediated Deaths on Facebook RIP Pages.” New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia 21 (1–2): 146–164. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2018 2018 “Death and Communal Mass-Mourning: Vin Diesel and the Remembrance of Paul Walker.” Social Media + Society 4 (1): 1–11. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Pitsillides, Waller, and Fairfax 2013Pitsillides, Stacey, Mike Waller, and Duncan Fairfax 2013 “Digital Death: What Role Does Digital Information Play in the Way We Are (Re)Membered?” In Digital Identity and Social Media, ed. by Steven Warburton, and Stylianos Hatzipanagos, 75–90. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Walter et al. 2011Walter, Tony, Rachid Hourizi, Wendy Moncur, and Stacey Pitsillides 2011 “Does the Internet Change how we Die and Mourn? Overview and Analysis.” Omega – Journal of Death and Dying 64 (4): 275–302. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Social media in particular have changed the way individuals and communities perform grieving practices. SNSs enable users to create online communities of the bereaved (Christensen et al. 2017Christensen, Dorte Refslund, Ylva Hård af Segerstad, Dick Kasperowski, and Kjetil Sandvik 2017 “Bereaved Parents’ Online Grief Communities: De-Tabooing Practices or Relation-Building Grief-Ghettos?Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 61 (1): 58–72. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), continue connections with the deceased (Bouc, Han, and Pennington 2016Bouc, Amanda, Soo-Hye Han, and Natalie Pennington 2016 “ ‘Why are They Commenting on his Page?’: Using Facebook Profile Pages to Continue Connections with the Dead.” Computers in Human Behavior 62: 635–643. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Giaxoglou 2015Giaxoglou, Korina 2015 “ ‘Everywhere I Go, You’re Going with Me’: Time and Space Deixis as Affective Positioning Resources in Shared Moments of Digital Mourning.” Discourse, Context and Media 9: 55–63. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), and manage the balance between individual expressions of sorrow and conventional forms of mourning (Pitsillides, Waller, and Fairfax 2013Pitsillides, Stacey, Mike Waller, and Duncan Fairfax 2013 “Digital Death: What Role Does Digital Information Play in the Way We Are (Re)Membered?” In Digital Identity and Social Media, ed. by Steven Warburton, and Stylianos Hatzipanagos, 75–90. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Brubaker, Hayes and Dourish (2013)Brubaker, Jed, Gillian Hayes, and Paul Dourish 2013 “Beyond the Grave: Facebook as a Site for the Expansion of Death and Mourning.” The Information Society 29 (3): 152–163. CrossrefGoogle Scholar summarise that social media have thus expanded mourning temporally, by integrating it into everyday experience, rather than in the “temporally bound settings of traditional funerals and memorials” (160); spatially, by removing geographical barriers, and allowing mourners to participate in a “shared production of grief” (161) from a range of locations; and socially, by including individuals across multiple social groups and contexts (161). Online spaces thus serve as arenas in which mourners can engage collectively and become part of a hybrid community of the bereaved.

Research on mourning celebrities online suggests that SNSs offer platforms for both communal grieving and the expression of fan identities. In examining reactions to the death of Michael Jackson on Twitter, Facebook and TMZ​.com (a celebrity news website), Sanderson and Cheong (2010)Sanderson, Jimmy, and Pauline Hope Cheong 2010 “Tweeting Prayers and Communicating Grief over Michael Jackson Online.” Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 30 (5): 328–340. CrossrefGoogle Scholar found that such sites allowed users to create “unique personally meaningful tributes” (337). Sanderson and Cheong also highlight how users came together to construct a positive legacy for the celebrity, enacting ritual practices that enabled fans to cope (337). Cesare and Branstad (2017)Cesare, Nina, and Jennifer Branstad 2017 “Mourning and Memory in the Twittersphere.” Mortality 1: 82–97. CrossrefGoogle Scholar showed how SNSs enabled users to respond to the deceased celebrity “more as a symbol of personal inspiration […] than as an individual” (10). Klastrup (2018) 2018 “Death and Communal Mass-Mourning: Vin Diesel and the Remembrance of Paul Walker.” Social Media + Society 4 (1): 1–11. CrossrefGoogle Scholar showed that social media offered users a venue where they could collectively mourn a celebrity (Paul Walker of the Fast and Furious film franchise) over longer periods of time, undergoing several stages of grief. In examining responses to the death of David Bowie on Twitter, Van den Bulck and Larsson (2019)Van den Bulck, Hilde, and Anders Olof Larsson 2019 “ ‘There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky’: Mourning David #Bowie on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 25 (2): 307–323. CrossrefGoogle Scholar showed that while the platform was used to express love and respect for the celebrity, there were only a limited number of “expressions of fan creativity” such as fan art. Van den Bulck and Larsson suggest that users may thus only wish to identify with the news topic via the use of hashtags such as #bowie, but not necessarily express a “more in-depth fandom” (2019Van den Bulck, Hilde, and Anders Olof Larsson 2019 “ ‘There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky’: Mourning David #Bowie on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 25 (2): 307–323. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 320), raising questions of the nature of fan identity and authenticity among grievers.

Overall, therefore, the impact of social media on mourning celebrities has arguably been to ‘re-enfranchise’ a community of grievers who have been disenfranchised both by the nature of the PSR and the constraints of traditional forms of mourning. Disenfranchised grief is the reaction to a loss “that […] cannot be openly acknowledged, publicly mourned, or socially supported” (Doka 1989Doka, Kenneth 1989 “Disenfranchised Grief.” In Disenfranchised Grief: Recognizing Hidden Sorrow, ed. by Kenneth Doka, 3–11. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.Google Scholar, 4; see also Corr 1999Corr, Charles A. 1999 “Enhancing the Concept of Disenfranchised Grief.” Omega – Journal of Death and Dying 38 (1): 1–20. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Doka 2002 2002 “The role of Ritual in the Treatment of Disenfranchised Grief.” In Disenfranchised Grief: New Directions, Challenges, and Strategies for Practice, ed. by Kenneth Doka, 135–147. Champaign, IL: Research Press.Google Scholar). In DMC, reactions to celebrity death involve both personal expressions of grief as well as alignment – via hashtags – with a community of the bereaved that is enfranchised and socially sanctioned (Döveling, Harju, and Sommer 2018Döveling, Katrin, Anu Harju, and Denise Sommer 2018 “From Mediatized Emotion to Digital Affect Cultures: New Technologies and Global Flows of Emotion.” Social Media + Society 4 (1): 1–11. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 6).

5.Outline of the study and methodology

This study focuses on the reactions to David Bowie’s death on Instagram in the period from 11 to 17 January 2016. Using Picodash, an Instagram search engine, I gathered all posts labelled #bowie in the period from 11 January 2016 (0:00 hrs GMT) to 17 January 2016 (16:00 hrs GMT). Although a range of hashtags is often used in the aftermath of a celebrity death, the hashtag #bowie was chosen – rather than others such as #RIPDavidBowie – as it was the broadest in scope in terms of the possible responses (cf. Cinque and Redmond 2019 2019The Fandom of David Bowie. Everyone Says “Hi”. Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 165–7; Van den Bulck and Larsson 2019Van den Bulck, Hilde, and Anders Olof Larsson 2019 “ ‘There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky’: Mourning David #Bowie on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 25 (2): 307–323. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 312–3).

Using DiscoverText, a text analytical tool, I first conducted a quantitative analysis of the frequency of a selection of keywords over time in the Instagram posts. I then took a randomised sample of 400 posts, from which I eliminated posts that were not in English, had since been deleted or were obvious spam, leaving a total of 361 posts, for which I carried out a quantitative visual content analysis based on intuitive, data-driven categories. I then conducted a qualitative analysis of stance-taking in the sample based on the themes of mourning and fan identities. Thus while the qualitative analysis is selective, the triangulation of methods allowed me to conduct an in-depth study of individual posts in the context of the overall reaction to Bowie’s death.

In conducting the study, I addressed the following research questions:

  1. What types of stance are circulated in reactions to David Bowie’s death on Instagram?

  2. How do Instagram users position themselves vis-à-vis David Bowie’s death in terms of fan identities?

  3. What role does the multimodality of Instagram posts play in reacting to David Bowie’s death and engaging with an online fan community?

In what follows, I show that the posters engage in a range of stance-taking connected to grief work (Kübler-Ross and Kessler 2005Kübler-Ross, Elizabeth, and David Kessler 2005On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar; Stroebe and Schut 1999Stroebe, Margaret, and Henk Schut 1999 “The Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement: Rationale and Description.” Death Studies 23 (3): 197–224. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2010 2010 “The Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement: A Decade On.” OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying 61 (4): 273–289. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). I also highlight how the multimodality of Instagram posts functions as a means of combining grief and identity work within a fan community. Overall, I suggest in the analysis that the interplay of grief and fan identities is reflective of notions of digital affect culture (Döveling, Harju, and Sommer 2018Döveling, Katrin, Anu Harju, and Denise Sommer 2018 “From Mediatized Emotion to Digital Affect Cultures: New Technologies and Global Flows of Emotion.” Social Media + Society 4 (1): 1–11. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) and multisocial digital fan identities (Hills 2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar).

6.Results

David Bowie died on 10 January 2016, and news of his death was first announced in Western media outlets on 11 January 2016 at approximately 07:00 hrs GMT. As Figure 2 shows, there was an immediate spike in Instagram posts labelled #bowie from around 07:00 hrs GMT, with a subsequent peak around 13:00 GMT (08:00 EST in the USA). Overall the response to the news is considerable in terms of the number of posts, with 27,887 posts labelled #bowie in the first six hours following the announcement of Bowie’s death and 109,930 posts total in the overall timespan under analysis. While this figure is far lower compared to the 4.3 million tweets posted worldwide in the first 24 hours after Bowie’s death (Sullivan 2016Sullivan, Lindsay 2016 “Twitter’s #RIPDavidBowie Graphic Tracks Massive Number of Bowie Tribute Tweets in Real Time.” Billboard. Last modified 11 January 2016. https://​www​.billboard​.com​/articles​/news​/6836562​/twitter​-ripdavidbowie​-graphic​-david​-bowie​-tribute, see also Burgess, Mitchell, and Münch 2019Burgess, Jean, Peta Mitchell, and Felix Münch 2019 “Social Media Rituals: The Uses of Celebrity Death in Digital Culture.” In A Networked Self: Birth, Life, Death, ed. by Zizi Papacharissi, 224–239. New York: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar), illustrating Twitter’s more prominent role as a participatory news platform in the event of celebrity death (Goh and Lee 2011Goh, Dion Hoe-Lian, and Chei Sian Lee 2011 “An Analysis of Tweets in Response to the Death of Michael Jackson.” Aslib Proceedings 63 (5): 432–444. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), it is nevertheless indicative of the “digital footprint” (Papacharissi 2016 2016 “Affective Publics and Structures of Storytelling: Sentiment, Events and Mediality.” Information, Communication & Society 19 (3): 307–324. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 312) that affective publics create as they materialise around news events on social media.

Figure 2.Distribution of Instagram posts labelled #bowie from 10 January 0:00 hrs GMT to 17 January 16:00 hrs GMT 2016
Figure 2.

Figure 3 shows the distribution of posts within the timespan in question containing a selection of keywords related to Bowie’s death. The most frequent terms within the posts are legend, hero and sad. The focus on Bowie’s status as a legend reflects a preoccupation with Bowie’s acclaim and cultural influence as a musician, which parallels findings by Van den Bulck and Larsson (2019Van den Bulck, Hilde, and Anders Olof Larsson 2019 “ ‘There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky’: Mourning David #Bowie on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 25 (2): 307–323. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 314) in which large percentages of tweets focused on Bowie’s musical legacy and role as an artist, 23.3% and 19.4% respectively of a sample of the most retweeted posts. The emphasis on Bowie’s status as a hero, a keyword that also combines an intertextual reference to the eponymous 1977 song and album titles, is indicative of the importance of Bowie as a source of personal inspiration for fans within a traditional parasocial fan-celebrity hierarchy (Hills 2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar; Marwick and boyd 2011b 2011b “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 17 (2): 139–158. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 155), while sadness as the most common affective stance within the data reflects Van den Bulck and Larsson’s findings that sorrow is the most common emotion expressed in retweeted posts (2019Van den Bulck, Hilde, and Anders Olof Larsson 2019 “ ‘There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky’: Mourning David #Bowie on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 25 (2): 307–323. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 314).

Figure 3.Number of Instagram posts labelled #bowie containing selected keywords 11–16 January 2016
Figure 3.

Table 1 shows the categories of the visual content of posts labelled #bowie in the random sample. The largest category of visual material in the sample is photos – including montages as in Figure 4 – of David Bowie in various personae (28.2%). This is illustrative of how mourners “[sanctify] meaningful symbols […] that may signify the identity of the deceased” (Brubaker, Hayes, and Dourish 2013Brubaker, Jed, Gillian Hayes, and Paul Dourish 2013 “Beyond the Grave: Facebook as a Site for the Expansion of Death and Mourning.” The Information Society 29 (3): 152–163. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 153). Interestingly, the second largest category is self-attributed fan art (21.6%). This category includes a range of art forms (see Section 6.2) including paintings, computer art, collages and even food with Bowie emblems. This high level of fan art stands in stark contrast to the findings of Van den Bulck and Larsson (2019)Van den Bulck, Hilde, and Anders Olof Larsson 2019 “ ‘There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky’: Mourning David #Bowie on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 25 (2): 307–323. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, who documented only low incidences of original visual material in Twitter posts labelled #bowie in the immediate aftermath of his death. This is reflective of other studies that suggest that Instagram is used for showcasing creativity and promoting the self (Hu et al. 2014Hu, Yuheng, Lydia Manikonda, and Subbarao Kambhampati 2014 “What We Instagram: A First Analysis of Instagram Photo Content and User Types.” In Proceedings of the Eighth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, 595–598. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan. https://​www​.aaai​.org​/ocs​/index​.php​/ICWSM​/ICWSM14​/paper​/viewFile​/8118​/8087Google Scholar; Sheldon and Bryant 2016Sheldon, Pavica, and Katherine Bryant 2016 “Instagram: Motives for Its Use and Relationship to Narcissism and Contextual Age.” Computers in Human Behavior 58: 89–97. CrossrefGoogle Scholar).

Table 1.Types of images labelled #bowie in the random sample
Category Number Percent
Photo of Bowie 102  28.2
Fan art (own, as attributed)  78  21.6
Bowie album(s)  31   8.6
Film still featuring Bowie  16   4.4
Fan art (by others, as attributed)  15   4.2
Photo of people other than Bowie  15   4.2
Tributes (flowers, posters, etc.)  15   4.2
App screenshot  14   3.9
Selfie/photo of self  13   3.6
Video footage, various (Bowie video, tribute concert, self, etc.)  13   3.6
Quotation  10   2.8
Photo of Bowie and others   7   1.9
Makeup design   6   1.7
Fan items (badges, concert posters, etc.)   4   1.1
Magazine/newspaper cover(s)   3   0.8
Graffiti   3   0.8
Miscellaneous  16   4.4
Total 361 100%
Figure 4.Image accompanying post by myeyesexploded, Example (1) (see Section 6.1)
Figure 4.

Overall, therefore, the data are indicative of the different ways in which posters respond to Bowie’s death, combining personal bereavement of a source of personal inspiration with a focus on the broader global loss of Bowie as an iconic musician. The quantitative analysis also shows a number of differences in usage patterns in celebrity mourning between Instagram and Twitter (cf. Goh and Lee 2011Goh, Dion Hoe-Lian, and Chei Sian Lee 2011 “An Analysis of Tweets in Response to the Death of Michael Jackson.” Aslib Proceedings 63 (5): 432–444. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Van den Bulck and Larsson 2019Van den Bulck, Hilde, and Anders Olof Larsson 2019 “ ‘There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky’: Mourning David #Bowie on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 25 (2): 307–323. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). This is an initial indication of how different communities on SNSs develop a “platform vernacular” that is based on “shared conventions and grammars of communication” (Gibbs et al. 2015Gibbs, Martin, James Meese, Michael Arnold, Bjorn Nansen, and Marcus Carter 2015 “#Funeral and Instagram: Death, Social Media, and Platform Vernacular.” Information, Communication & Society 18 (3); 255–268. CrossrefGoogle Scholar).

6.1Affective stance-taking in mourning David Bowie

In contrast to claims in some media outlets that the response to Bowie’s death was ‘not grief’ (O’Neill 2016O’Neill, Brendan 2016 “That Thing You’re Feeling about Bowie – It isn’t Grief.” Spiked. Last modified 13 January 2016. http://​www​.spiked​-online​.com​/newsite​/article​/that​-thing​-youre​-feeling​-about​-bowie​-it​-isnt​-grief), the vast majority of posters appear to be emotionally affected by the death of Bowie and mourn his passing. Kübler-Ross and Kessler’s (2005)Kübler-Ross, Elizabeth, and David Kessler 2005On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar linear model of grieving describes a range of feelings experienced during the mourning process, beginning with denial. Although the overall number of posts expressing denial is low (operationalised here as posts expressing disbelief via “I can’t believe” or “hoax”, i.e. 548 out of 109,930 posts in the dataset as a whole, and 12 out of 361 posts in the random sample), they are nevertheless of interest as Bowie’s death from cancer was largely unexpected (Black 2017Black, Jack 2017 “The Reification of Celebrity: Global Newspaper Coverage of the Death of David Bowie.” International Review of Sociology 27 (1): 202–224. CrossrefGoogle Scholar).22.All posts are rendered with original spelling, grammar and punctuation, including errors. With respect to ethical concerns regarding data taken from online sources (British Association for Applied Linguistics 2016British Association for Applied Linguistics 2016 “Recommendations on Good Practice in Applied Linguistics.” 3rd edition. https://​baal​.org​.uk​/wp​-content​/uploads​/2016​/10​/goodpractice​_full​_2016​.pdf), the posts have been anonymised, and traceable unique hashtags have been removed from the data. Images and user names are given only with explicit permission from the holders of the Instagram accounts in question.

(1)

myeyesexploded I can’t believe what I’m seeing, my heart is in shambles and I don’t know what to do, David Bowie has died??? Please tell me this is some sick hoax. One of my favorite artist and human beings on this planet. I didn’t even know he was this bad, I had no clue. I turn on social media and blam! Like a brick fucking wall. I have never thought I’d see this day. Honestly. Rip to the thin white duke. I can imagine some of you feel the same. Forever bowie. ❤❤#thinwhiteduke #halloweenjack #bowie #davidbowie

(2)

[username] Okay my Dad just sent me a text saying Bowie died please tell me this a hoax or else I’m just gonna fucking break down #DavidBowie #Bowie

(3)

[username] I can’t believe this 😿 first Lemmy, now Bowie, I’m crushed 💔💔💔💔 I know people die everyday, but these two have been so influential in my life. Forever in my heart and on my mind. #rip #lemmy #motorhead #davidbowie #ziggystardust #bowie #sadness #badmagic #blackstar #cantbelieveit #punk #rocknroll #legends #music #revolutionary #aceofspades

The affective stance of disbelief is expressed through phrases such as “I can’t believe this” in Examples (1) and (3), or the hope that the news is a hoax in (1) and (2). The stance of disbelief is also coupled with expressions of the intensity of shock through metaphor and simile (“my heart is in shambles” and “like a brick fucking wall” in (1), “I’m just gonna fucking break down” in (2), and “I’m crushed” in (3)). This reflects other research findings that fans experience a strong bond to celebrities that entails an initial refusal to acknowledge their passing (Courbet and Fourquet-Courbet 2014Courbet, Didier, and Marie-Pierre Fourquet-Courbet 2014 “When a Celebrity Dies …Social Identity, Uses of Social Media, and the Mourning Process among Fans: The Case of Michael Jackson.” Celebrity Studies 5 (3): 275–290. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Sanderson and Cheong 2010Sanderson, Jimmy, and Pauline Hope Cheong 2010 “Tweeting Prayers and Communicating Grief over Michael Jackson Online.” Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 30 (5): 328–340. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). In addition to expressing a subjective stance of shock and disbelief and thereby indexing an identity as a bereaved individual, the posters explicitly appeal to an online fan community (the initial half of the question-answer adjacency pair in “David Bowie has died???” as well as “Please tell me this is some sick hoax” in (1), and “please tell me this is a hoax” in (2). This positioning therefore goes beyond mere alignment with a community of grievers (also explicitly performed in “I can imagine some of you feel the same” in (1)) to appeals for support. Previous research has indicated that when grieving on social media, posters rarely address each other (Brubaker, Hayes, and Dourish 2013Brubaker, Jed, Gillian Hayes, and Paul Dourish 2013 “Beyond the Grave: Facebook as a Site for the Expansion of Death and Mourning.” The Information Society 29 (3): 152–163. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), but the relational work (Locher, Bolander, and Höhn 2015Locher, Miriam, Bolander, Brook, and Höhn, Nicole 2015 “Introducing Relational Work in Facebook and Discussion Boards.” Pragmatics 25 (1): 1–21. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) of requesting confirmation from a community here suggests that the expression of disbelief forms an exception, thus being more explicitly formulated as public communication within the community rather than merely expressing personal loss.

The reactions to Bowie’s death also include expressions of anger, focusing particularly on the cause of Bowie’s death, as shown in Examples (4) to (7) below:

(4)

[username] 💐 ⚡ Heart Broken ⚡ Such a sad day. We lost @davidbowie. Rest in Peace 😭 Fuck YOU Cancer ! We lost a legend at the younge age of 69. Such an inspiration. ⚡ ⚡ ⚡ ⚡ ⚡ ⚡ ⚡ ⚡ ⚡ ⚡ ⚡ ⚡ #sweet1985 #rip #davidbowie #rockandroll #grunge #Bowie #night #love #fuckcancer #musician #idol #artist

(5)

[username] FUCK CANCER.!.!.! #Lemmy #Bowie #Rickman.…

(6)

[username] Three #legends … #fuckyoucancer #lemmy #bowie #alanrickman cancer

(7)

[username] Iman and David | She had his back til the end. I really hope she is surrounded by a strong support system. Cancer is such a mean disease. I hate what it takes from us. What a love they seemed to share. ❤ #ripdavidbowie #bowie #lifeonmars #legend #superhuman #myedit #rip #davidandiman #alovestory #loveatfirstsight #fuckcancer

The affective stance of anger is primarily expressed via expletives such as “Fuck YOU Cancer !” in (4) (and similar in (5)), as well as through the first-person verb “I hate what it takes from us” and the attribution “such a mean disease” in (7). Both Examples (4) and (7) align the poster within a broad fan community via the use of inclusive first-personal plural pronouns (“We lost @davidbowie” in (4) and “I hate what it takes from us” in (7)), while the emotive stance of anger is directed at cancer as the stance object, reflecting findings by Radford and Bloch (2012)Radford, Scott, and Peter Bloch 2012 “Grief, Commiseration, and Consumption following the Death of a Celebrity.” Journal of Consumer Culture 12 (2): 137–155. CrossrefGoogle Scholar that fans of celebrities direct their anger at the cause of death. The intensity of the emotion is also indicated by the repeated use of the “high voltage” emoji (or lightning bolt, with intertextual connotations of the 1973 Aladdin Sane album cover) in (4), and repeated exclamation marks and capitals in (5). As Döveling, Harju and Sommer (2018Döveling, Katrin, Anu Harju, and Denise Sommer 2018 “From Mediatized Emotion to Digital Affect Cultures: New Technologies and Global Flows of Emotion.” Social Media + Society 4 (1): 1–11. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 6) point out, “[i]ntensity of emotion is a constitutive feature of [an] identity-defining fan relation”. Furthermore, three of the four examples here are tagged either #fuckcancer or #fuckyoucancer, which as interpersonal hashtags (Zappavigna 2015Zappavigna, Michele 2015 “Searchable Talk: the Linguistic Functions of Hashtags.” Social Semiotics 25 (3): 274–291. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 279) allow a further evaluative meta-comment that takes an affective stance on the content of the post. Equally, in the context of the spate of celebrity deaths around the turn of 2015/2016, several of which, including that of actor Alan Rickman (21 February 1946–14 January 2016) and musician Lemmy (24 December 1945–28 December 2015), were cancer-related, the affective stance of the hashtags may have a broader resonance across a number of different fan communities.

A further emotion expressed in the data is that of acceptance of Bowie’s passing. Acceptance is expressed in a range of ways, the most frequent of which is to bid farewell to Bowie, particularly addressing a number of his many personae, as Examples (8) to (12) show:

(8)

[username] It took me two days to stop crying my heart out and accept reality as it is. The person that influenced my life so much passed away. Nothing left to loose, nothing left to say… Except one big “Thank you.” 💔 #bowie

(9)

[username] And so we bid thee farewell, Goblin King. Rest in Peace Mr. Bowie. May you be the stardust to inspire and create the hope and dreams of many more to come. #davidbowie #bowie #goblinking #labyrinth #restinpeace #rip #ripdavidbowie #fearmelovemedoasisay

(10)

[username] Goodbye to a genius from another dimension #bowie

(11)

[username] Good bye, Bowie! Good bye, starman! ✨ #davidbowie #starman #bowie #ripbowie #rip #graphic #graphicdesign #minimalism #art #illustration #illustrator #graphicart #design #desenho #dibujo #picame

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[username] “The stars are never far away” Thank you for everything, you magnificent weirdo. You touched so many lives. #davidbowie #bowie #fanart #digitalart #rip #art #starman #missyou

A recurrent theme in the posts is that of Bowie’s otherworldliness, as in “Goodbye to a genius from another dimension” in (10) or through the description of Bowie as a “starman” in (11). Indeed, such intertextual references, including citations of song lyrics as in (12) “The stars are never far away” from Bowie’s 2013 single “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”, can also be seen as a means of indexing a fan identity among a community to whom the references are familiar. The posters also frequently refer to Bowie’s legacy and influence as an artist, as in “May you be the stardust to inspire and create the hope and dreams of many more to come” in (9) and “You touched so many lives” in (12).

A further recurrent theme in the posts is gratitude towards Bowie as a source of inspiration as in (8), (9) and (12). Overall, the posts directly address the persona of Bowie, either through the pronoun you (or thee in (9)), or through “Goodbye” in (10) or “Farewell” in (9). The bidding of farewell and expressions of gratitude can be seen as expressions of “continuing bonds” (Silverman and Klass 1996Silverman, Phyllis, and Dennis Klass 1996 “What’s the Problem?” In Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief, ed. by Dennis Klass, Phyllis Silverman, and Steven Nickman, 3–23. Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar; see also Bouc, Han, and Pennington 2016Bouc, Amanda, Soo-Hye Han, and Natalie Pennington 2016 “ ‘Why are They Commenting on his Page?’: Using Facebook Profile Pages to Continue Connections with the Dead.” Computers in Human Behavior 62: 635–643. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) with Bowie. The posts are thus illustrative of the importance for mourners to maintain a relationship with the deceased, particularly in terms of fan-celebrity interaction – here evidenced through dialogical textual features – and of how a “process of meaning reconstruction” is important for that relationship to be productive after death (Bouc, Han, and Pennington 2016Bouc, Amanda, Soo-Hye Han, and Natalie Pennington 2016 “ ‘Why are They Commenting on his Page?’: Using Facebook Profile Pages to Continue Connections with the Dead.” Computers in Human Behavior 62: 635–643. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 636).

A further recurrent emotion expressed in the posts is that of sadness, as shown in Examples (13) to (16) below.

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[username] Lost a hero, very sad news. Legend. #davidbowie #davidbowieforever #bowie

(14)

[username] Sad news today #RIP #bowie #labrynth #goblinking #king #music #icon

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[username] A very sad day in music history yesterday rip David Bowie ❤ #davidbowie#lazarath#movie#rip #david#bowie

(16)

[username] Was very sad to hear about David Bowie this morning. The world has lost a wonderful and creative musician. #bowie

Sadness is a central element of grieving (Kübler-Ross and Kessler 2005Kübler-Ross, Elizabeth, and David Kessler 2005On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar); nevertheless, here the posters express less a personal stance of subjectivity as a mourner, but instead characterise the “day” or “news” – the stance object – as sad, even in arguably rather clichéd terms. In (16) the poster themselves is the stance object (“Was very sad”), but there too the formulation is in the past tense rather than an expression of ongoing grief. These posts can thus be seen representing “standardised displays of solidarity symbols” that emerge following the initial expression of shock (Collins 2004Collins, Randall 2004 “Rituals of Solidarity and Security in the Wake of Terrorist Attack.” Sociological Theory 22 (1): 53–87. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 53; see also Döveling, Harju, and Sommer 2018Döveling, Katrin, Anu Harju, and Denise Sommer 2018 “From Mediatized Emotion to Digital Affect Cultures: New Technologies and Global Flows of Emotion.” Social Media + Society 4 (1): 1–11. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 6), and show similarities with the somewhat formulaic expressions of sadness on Twitter documented by Cinque and Redmond (2019 2019The Fandom of David Bowie. Everyone Says “Hi”. Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 167–169).

Overall, the emotions expressed by the posters reflect grief work as outlined by Kübler-Ross and Kessler (2005)Kübler-Ross, Elizabeth, and David Kessler 2005On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar. The affective stance-taking is also indicative of some elements of grief work in the Dual Process Model (Stroebe and Schut 1999Stroebe, Margaret, and Henk Schut 1999 “The Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement: Rationale and Description.” Death Studies 23 (3): 197–224. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2010 2010 “The Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement: A Decade On.” OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying 61 (4): 273–289. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), bearing features of loss-oriented coping, such as rumination about the deceased’s persona and reflection on the circumstances surrounding Bowie’s death. The posts are also an initial indication of how the hashtag #bowie can form a “structure of feeling” (Papacharissi 2015Papacharissi, Zizi 2015Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology, and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar, 118), in which the intensity of emotions, particularly those involved with mourning, is a constitutive element. Overall, they are suggestive of how the social sharing of emotions forms a key characteristic of digital affect cultures (Döveling, Harju, and Sommer 2018Döveling, Katrin, Anu Harju, and Denise Sommer 2018 “From Mediatized Emotion to Digital Affect Cultures: New Technologies and Global Flows of Emotion.” Social Media + Society 4 (1): 1–11. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 4).

6.2Fan identities

This section addresses the question of how Instagram posters reacting to Bowie’s death position themselves as fans (or non-fans) within a mourning online community. One recurrent manner in which posters index a fan identity is to refer to Bowie as a source of personal inspiration, as illustrated by Examples (17) and (18) and Figures 5 and 6:

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milenamadethis anyone with a creative fibre in their being can appreciate the greatness and glory that was David Bowie. Bowie was such a major influence throughout my teens, and even today. his music encouraged me to sing, to play my guitar, to draw, to paint. RIP, you’re in heaven now 🎵🎨. #davidbowie #Bowie #drawing #art #sketch #watercolor #painting #artFidoBowie

Figure 5.Image accompanying post by milenamadethis, Example (17)
Figure 5.
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catherine_chant Sad day today. As a teen and college student and well into my late 20s David #Bowie ’s music had a huge influence on me. I attempted to paint a picture of him back in ’84.

Figure 6.Image accompanying post by catherine_chant, Example (18)
Figure 6.

Here the posters take an evaluative stance on Bowie’s work as being influential particularly in formative periods in their lives, as in “Bowie was such a major influence throughout my teens, and even today” in (17) and “David #Bowie ’s music had a huge influence on me” in (18), simultaneously positioning themselves as creative individuals. They furthermore highlight their “long-term fidelity” as fans of Bowie (Hills 2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar), thus also indexing an authentic fan identity. As Stevenson (2006Stevenson, Nick 2006David Bowie: Fame, Sound and Vision. Malden, MA: Polity.Google Scholar, 157) points out, by doing so, fans create coherent “self-continuities, using Bowie’s image and music as emotional resources”.

Within such posts, the visual component can be seen to fulfil a number of functions. One is as a form of evidential stance-taking – “indicating the information source the speaker is relying on to make a claim” (Diewald, Kresic, and Smirnova 2009Diewald, Gabriele, Marijana Kresic, and Elena Smirnova 2009 “The Grammaticalization Channels of Evidentials and Modal Particles in German: Integration in Textual Structures as a Common Feature.” In Current Trends in Diachronic Semantics and Pragmatics, ed. by Maj-Britt Mosegaard, and Jacqueline Visconti, 189–210. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 190) – in that they index fandom – the images portray likenesses of Bowie – and artistry, as both fan art works in Figures 5 and 6 are signed and dated, with the year of 1984 legible in Figure 6 also bearing testimony to the long-term fidelity of the poster. Thus the visuality of these posts similarly indexes fan identification over time and a coherent self-narrative (Stevenson 2006Stevenson, Nick 2006David Bowie: Fame, Sound and Vision. Malden, MA: Polity.Google Scholar). They also connote authenticity in that fan art “suffers less from cultural mediation and mass production” (Cinque and Redmond 2019 2019The Fandom of David Bowie. Everyone Says “Hi”. Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 25–26). Equally, Cinque and Redmond (2019 2019The Fandom of David Bowie. Everyone Says “Hi”. Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 98) highlight how cherished fan items form a central element of fan cultures that are ‘kept secret’ until occasions such as the celebrity’s death, when they are shared among the fan community for approval. In this sense such digital sharing of fan art is also reflective of the concept of multisociality (Hills 2016 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar) in that the posts are embedded in broader discourses and hierarchies of authenticity negotiated among fans.

The notion of multisociality is further highlighted by one particular post in which the user thanks members of her personal network for supporting her in her grief over Bowie’s death, given in Example (19) and Figure 7:

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mllesvenskah I just wanted to Thanks everyone who shown me there compassion over Bowie’s loss. My heart is full of tears & I still can’t believe it, so all your LOVE is really appreciated. Bowie Will always Be The most important Man in my Life, he has been My God & spiritual father for so many years. I’m inconsolable, tears don’t want to stop. #ripdavidbowie #davidjones #davidjones #Bowie

Figure 7.Image accompanying post by mllesvenskah, Example (19)
Figure 7.

In terms of affective stance, the poster expresses gratitude to those who sent messages to her, while also expressing her ongoing disbelief (“I still can’t believe it”) and deep sadness at Bowie’s death (“My heart is full of tears”) in similar metaphorical terms to Examples (1) to (3) in Section 6.1. The poster also expresses a clear parasocial relationship to Bowie, citing him as “My God & spiritual father for so many years” and “The most important Man in my Life”, and is thus illustrative of elements of “parasocial grief” (DeGroot and Leith 2018DeGroot, Jocelyn, and Alex Leith 2018 “R.I.P. Kutner: Parasocial Grief Following the Death of a Television Character.” Omega – Journal of Death and Dying 77 (3): 199–216. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). As Hills (2016) 2016 “From Para-social to Multisocial Interaction: Theorizing Material/Digital Fandom and Celebrity.” In A Companion to Celebrity, ed. by P. David Marshall, and Sean Redmond, 463–482. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar points out, the multisociality of online fandom does not exclude what may be seen as archetypal elements of the PSR, but embeds the fan-celebrity relationship in a triad of celebrity-fan-community relations.

The visual component of the post consists of a collage of tweets and messages sent to the poster by her personal network, many of which express support (“stay strong, I am so sorry for your loss”, “Si tu as besoin de quoi que ce soit, je suis là” [If there’s anything you need, I’m there for you]). Thus, on the one hand, the image is a further form of evidential stance-taking providing evidence of the poster’s acknowledged status as a high-profile fan, with the montage of messages as stance resources and the poster herself as the stance object. While evidence of “co-constructed empathy” (Döveling, Harju, and Sommer 2018Döveling, Katrin, Anu Harju, and Denise Sommer 2018 “From Mediatized Emotion to Digital Affect Cultures: New Technologies and Global Flows of Emotion.” Social Media + Society 4 (1): 1–11. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 6), it is also indicative of how the relationship with the celebrity often “constitut[es] a secondary aim, the primary one being one’s relationship with one’s surrounding social network” (Van Krieken 2012Van Krieken, Robert 2012Celebrity Society. London: Routledge. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 87, emphasis in original). The post thus also illustrates the multisocial nature of celebrity mourning online, in that posters demonstrate a self-consciousness of their own “brand” within a community as a high-profile (grieving) fan (cf. Smith 2014Smith, Daniel 2014 “Charlie is so ‘English’-like: Nationality and the Branded Celebrity Person in the Age of YouTube.” Celebrity Studies 5 (3): 256–274. CrossrefGoogle Scholar).

A number of posts also index a “non-fan” identity, as shown in Examples (20) to (22):

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philwallaceartworks I can’t say that I am the biggest David Bowie fan in the world, nor can I say I know or like all of his songs. I can say however that the songs I love the most from him have moved me in a huge way and remain some of my favorite songs of all time. An amazing artist and inspiration. He will be greatly missed. #davidbowie #bowie #ziggystardust #aladdinsane #painting #watercolor

Figure 8.Image accompanying post by philwallaceartworks, Example (20)
Figure 8.
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beardedyorkdad #RIP #DavidBowie.. I cant confess to be the biggest #Bowie fan on the planet if I am honest and I can’t say that he #Inspired me like every one else is saying because he didn’t… But I can understand what he has done for music over the last 6 decades and I have no doubt that he is a #Legend in every meaning of the Word and he will be missed by many around the world.. Another amazing #Singer #Songwriter #Icon gone… So #RIP #Ziggy So I thought he deserved his own #Villainedit 🔪💪🎩👊🍺

Figure 9.Image accompanying post by beardedyorkdad, Example (21)
Figure 9.
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nitaniel996 A little tribute from me. I can’t say that I am a crazy #Bowie fan, but he was a significant, great, inspiring artist. As, for me personally, I will forever remember him as #jareth #thegoblinking because, I can’t describe in words how much I adore #labyrinth, and Jareth stole my heart the moment I saw him. #jareththegoblinking #davidbowie #davidbowieforever #sketch #portrait #pencilsketch #art #drawing

Figure 10.Image accompanying post by nitaniel996, Example (22)
Figure 10.