Over 20 years after Madonna raised hackles with her “Like A Prayer” video, and 40 after he freaked people out with Space Oddity, David Bowie is back once again to prove that Catholic imagery in music videos will never not be controversial. (Thanks, Catholics.) How controversial? Well, YouTube has already removed his new video because it violated its terms of service. Transgressive!
Directed by Floria Sigismondi, who also helmed the fantastic clip for “The Stars [Are Out Tonight],” “The Next Day” casts Bowie as some kind of Jesus figure (ruh roh), and the one and only Gary Oldman as a naughty priest. (Hey, it worked for the Beatles.) Oldman kicks things off by punching a supplicant street urchin in the face and playing it off like “whatevs.” He says what’s up to an eyebrowless self-flagellator before descending into some sort of sexy church clurrb, where scantily clad women drink wine, eat eyeballs, and canoodle with priests (for money) to the sweet strains of Bowie’s band. You know, Catholic stuff.
The party is just getting started when Marion Magdalene comes down with a bad case of stigmata and bleeds all over in an orgasmic orgy of holy redemption. Gary Oldman’s all like “What the fuck, Jesus, you ruined my party,” but it’s too late; this religious tableau is happening, whether he likes it or not. And she wept shiny tears of silver jizz!
Jesus-Bowie gets meta for a moment as he thanks “Gary,” “Marion” and “everybody,” then disappears in a shaft of god-light, probably to an even better party. I commend him for keeping a straight face through all of this.
This moral of the story? At age 66, David Bowie can still out-weird almost anyone, so don’t even think about trying to step to him. Bless his holy name.