It was a passing thing, the merest of blips in the constantly gushing torrent of news, if even by chance one happened to have noticed it at all. It was simply this: Two widely reported celebrity deaths happened in quick succession, and both persons died at the age of 69. The first was the pop-music legend David Bowie, who reportedly died on January 10th, and the second was the actor Alan Rickman, who we’re told died on January 14th. (Both were also Englishmen.)
The video for David Bowie’s new single, “The Next Day,” has aroused considerable controversy due to its portrayal of Roman Catholic clergy-folk in a rather negative light, associating them with decadence, perversion, meanness, and sundry ills. The video also features some degree of “explicitness,” and climaxes (if you will) with one of the featured young ladies spewing great quantities of blood from holes in the palms of her hands. Bowie himself performs in the video dressed in robes that some say are intended to evoke a Jesus-Christ-like figure; I can’t say I disagree with that assessment. The video features actor Gary Oldman playing a priest and was directed by Floria Sigismondi. YouTube briefly pulled it due to the “explicitness,” but it’s been restored and can be viewed at this link.
What can one say? Aside from that which seems so obvious; i.e., that this is exceedingly boring territory. Attacking Roman Catholic clergy for sexual sins and hypocrisy is hardly groundbreaking stuff in 2013. Is David Bowie feeling so oppressed that he just had to make this kind of statement? The Roman Catholic Church, and Christianity generally, is waning to such a degree in Bowie’s native Europe that this seems an egregious case of kicking someone when they’re down. However, I think that one will notice, when observing mobs, that kicking someone when they’re down is a kind of primal urge that many people feel helpless to resist. Continue reading ““The Next Day” – David Bowie Video Controversy”
The new David Bowie song, “Where Are We Now?” (embedded via YouTube below) has been generating a frenzy of attention, given it’s his first record in ten years and many thought he’d never put out another one. (He’s 66 years-old, which somehow sounds so old for David Bowie, while, by contrast, I think 71 sounds just right for Bob Dylan.) I like some of Bowie’s stuff over the years, but am not a rabid devotee, so the mere appearance of the new song didn’t knock me off my chair. But I happen to think it is quite good and quite lovely: an impressionistic, bittersweet reflection on aging, evoking sadness at things lost, and a poignant longing to hold on. And maybe some other things. Bowie is nothing if not good at leaving space for the listener to paint his or her own picture, and that’s so even in this case where the things he’s singing about are quite personal and specific to him. Continue reading “David Bowie: “Where Are We Now?””