Ok, shut up and watch this.
Watch it a few more times. It’s two seconds long. Watch it like fifty times.
Watch it, and then tell me that David Bowie didn’t just say “meme school”.
HE TOTALLY DOES, RIGHT?
I want to investigate just what is going on here. Because it’s so weird and fantastic and the fact it’s David Bowie just makes it all that much more magical and interesting. So let’s start at the beginning.
This is a clip from a 2002 ‘Live By Request’ show. Live By Request was a program on the A&E Network in the US that was basically a phone-in show where artists would play songs as requested by callers. It’s a pretty cool idea, and the Bowie one is, of course, amazing. Here’s the full thing.
Anyway, the interesting bit occurs about 1hr35mins in. He’s talking about his early days. Transcript as follows:
A lot of people don’t know, you studied as a mime when you were starting?
I’m afraid I did, yeah it’s vulgar.
I couldn’t get into clown school, so I ended up with mime school.
There were so many more vacancies!
[LOOKS AROUND. SMILES]
So it’s clear that Bowie is talking about mime school, right? WRONG. He clearly can say “mime school” normally, he does it seconds before he says meme school. It’s the pause that gives it away. He pauses, clearly thinking about his next words carefully. He looks around, gives a knowing smile, and says the words “meme school”. Which doesn’t make any sense.
Unless, of course, you believe (as I do) that Bowie was predicting the rise of memes. In which case this makes perfect sense. His smile reveals that he’s enjoying a little in-joke. He knows the audience won’t understand, but it’s just a little fun for him. Maybe he even knows that a decade and a half on people will uncover this clip and be like “oh my god, he saw all of this coming.”
Anyway, he definitely says meme school.
Don’t believe me? Well, here he is in an even earlier interview saying the phrase “meme companies”.