David Bowie is a cryptic fellow. Especially lately, as he provides more tantalizing clues on record and in video while keeping his mouth firmly shut to the media. His embargo on self-promotion doesn’t extend to what used to be called ‘promo videos’, thankfully. If there’s one thing we’ve gathered from The Next Day, it’s that Bowie has some ambivalence towards his own image. He seems to simultaneously want to explain himself and to avoid all explanation. At least, he’s not explaining himself in the traditional sit-down-and-talk-about-it manner. On the other hand, the new album does feel like it’s a very personal one. Even as he’s obviously had it up to there with the 24-hour-news cycle that we now live in, he’s very much an active participant of the internet community. He was, after all, one of the first major stars to cotton on to the magic of the internet, running his own website at at time when most large corporations didn’t yet use email. It appears that Bowie wants to communicate directly to his fanbase, skipping the media interludes and providing only deeply encrypted information for puzzling over. I haven’t made heads or tails of it yet, but I’m sure that the more I listen the clearer it will become. It’s like he knows that fans will understand and he won’t be bothered talking to people who don’t get it.
Today we have a brand new video, which I warn you is not for sensitive viewers. The title track of The Next Day is one of the more defiant and aggro sounding songs on the album, and the video is deliberately morbid. For that we can surely thank Floria Sigismondi, a long-time collaborator and well known for her dark aesthetic. Bowie has certainly ventured into dark territory before, nothing unusual about that. What’s new is that he has never before shown any interest in Catholicism. He’s always been more intrigued by philosophy than religion, and, aside from sporting a little cross on occasion, hasn’t mined much into religious iconography. I could name some people who’ve built their entire careers on blaspheming all over the Catholic church, but I suppose that that territory is too obvious and rote for David Bowie. Until now. He must, of course, have a motive for opening up that can of worms. I’ve been observing the online fandom since before ‘fandom’ was a word, and one thing springs out; there are a lot, and I mean a lot, of Bowie fans who very seriously and sincerely consider him a god. I should know this, I’m one of them. David Bowie is most definitely a god, a prophet or the Second Coming. Like I said, it’s not just me being crazy, there’s a lot of us out there. And, David Bowie being an internet lurker par excellence, he’s most certainly aware that he’s got believers. So now, in this here video, he is very clearly telling us that, yes, he is indeed the Messiah. He’s confirmed it. It’s now officially official.