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David Bowie's Hidden Agenda In 'Valentine's Day'

The new music video for "Valentine's Day" may appear to be simple. But looks can deceive.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 03:00 PM

David Bowie in the new video for 'Valentine's Day.' David Bowie in the new video for "Valentine's Day." (Jimmy King/courtesy of the artist)

Throughout his career, David Bowie has been known for groundbreaking and inventive music videos. So yesterday, when he released a new video for "Valentine's Day" -- a great track from his comeback record The Next Day -- some people were surprised that it consisted solely of Bowie and a prop guitar in a disused industrial space.



Entertainment Weekly wrote, "After the epic, arty awesomeness of Bowie's last couple of videos, we were expecting a little more more in his new clip for 'Valentine's Day'… Bowie's latest, however, is much simpler, featuring little more than the singer, his guitar, and those famously mismatched eyes peering into your soul."

Well, maybe. I thought that too when I first watched it. That is, until I noticed a weird shadow on the wall that didn't seem to match what Bowie was actually doing. So I watched again. The shadow on the wall is clearly holding a gun, not a guitar.

The song is about a school shooting, and at several points in the Indrani and Markus Klinko-directed video, Bowie holds the guitar as if it were a weapon. It's all very subtle, but it's essentially a great bit of misdirection: Those eyes do draw your attention, but the real message is hidden in the corners and shadows and quick cuts. Elsewhere, a brief glimpse of what looks like a wave form is actually a speeding bullet.

Then there's the still from the video issued by Sony:

David Bowie in his new video for "Valentine's Day."


This evocative photo is strikingly similar to theinfamous image of Charlton Heston from 2000 telling the NRA convention that the Democrats could have his gun when they pry it out of his "cold, dead hands."

Charlton Heston speaking at an NRA convention, in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 20, 2000.



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Comments [3]

Emily from Houston, TX

Oh, it's definitely about a mass school shooting. Look at the imagery, the gnashing of his teeth, the sharp movements, the glaring looks. Also:

1:38 holding automatic rifle
2:05 mimics holding a gun
2:25 shadow of automatic rifle
2:28 bullet passing through

Examine these three lines, too:

Valentine told me who's to go [kill]
The teachers and the football stars [will die]
Benny and Judy down [shot]

Jul. 02 2014 04:31 PM

The tune itself is misleading until you pay attention to the lyrics, so this video suits it perfectly.

Jul. 18 2013 09:11 PM

A lot of people have missed the gun, NRA references, they just think it's Bowie playing a funny guitar in an old warehouse. I wish people would pay attention more! It's a very clever and subtle video.

Jul. 17 2013 03:57 PM

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