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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 [5]


I am not sure what to think about these comments. are all Americans literal?

Feb. 12 2016 07:29 AM
Michael from Galveston Island

CONCLUSION: Analysis of a video. David Bowie’s video for "Valentine’s Day" is full of symbolism and metaphor. When I set out to decipher the code on the album cover of Black Star, I all but convinced myself that all of his messages dealt with "Nibiru"...The Black Star (Planet X) which periodically all but destroys the planet Earth, and so far in the past at least civilization miraculously starts anew in the aftermath. This is not the case: Valentine’s Day is about Mass Shootings, more specifically school campus massacres, as it even begins with a marching band drum beat. In frame 2:28 a rifle bullet speeds down a guitar string (a barrel), the 6th string to be exact. If you have movie maker, you can extract frame 2:28. If not look fast, there's but a glimpse. Other gestures of Bowie holding up (red streamline guitar) and aiming a rifle, will bring you to where I am. I do believe that Black Star, and Bowie’s work on other songs going back as far as 2007 depicts a global tragedy...comprised of the many elements that make up a visitation by Evil Incarnate. It may be that Bowie is using the “Black Star” mythology as a platform to make social commentary on the disaster that mankind is bringing upon himself. A planet racing through the universe on a collision path, or a speeding bullet, either suffice as imagery to accompany the musical message. So…Voila! There you have it. Straight from Radio Free Michael. As for decorating my padded cell, I really like Earth tones.…

Jan. 21 2016 07:43 PM
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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