David Bowie’s liberal use of religious imagery in his video for “The Next Day” has drawn criticism and personal attacks from the Catholic League, who felt burned by the clip. The video finds Bowie outfitted in a robe, similar to Christ’s, as he sings from a stage in a hazy nightclub of priests (among them, (among them, Gary Oldman) and scantily-clad women (among them, Marion Cotillard, who experiences a severe stigmata on the dancefloor.)
The Catholic League issued a statement on the video just hours after it was uploaded, calling Bowie a “switch-hitting, bisexual, senior citizen from London” who is “nothing if not confused about religion.”
“In short, the video reflects the artist—it is a mess,” wrote Catholic League president Bill Donohue. The clip was briefly removed from YouTube for allegedly violating terms of service, according to Billboard, but quickly returned after the site determined the it had made an error.
The edgy video treatment was written by Bowie himself, with direction from Floria Sigusmundi, who’s lent her avant-garde vision to everyone from Katy Perry to Bjork (and a few previous Bowie clips). This isn’t the first time the Catholic League has called out the iconic singer for “mocking Christ.” The advocacy organization previously took issue with Bowie for a promotional ad depicting him as Jesus in Pulse magazine in 1997. They did not, however, make any mention of Bowie’s role as Pontius Pilate in 1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ.
The organization has a history of speaking out against pop stars, with Lady Gaga being a frequent target in recent years for her use of religious themes in videos like “Alejandro” and “Judas.” “The Next Day” is the third single and title track of Bowie’s 24th studio effort, out now.
- Nee-Sa Lossing, Radio.com