A closer look at David Bowie’s music video for ‘Valentine’s Day’ suggests there’s more to it than meets the eye. When it came out earlier this month it was seen as stripped down and back to basics particulary when compared with his last, controversial video for ‘The Next Day’ that depicted Bowie as Christ and Marion Cotillard with stigmata. The lyrics suggest ‘Valentine’s Day’ is about a high school shooting: “Valentine told me who’s to go/ Feelings he’s treasured most of all/The teachers and the football star”. But is there a direct reference to Charlton Heston and the National Rifle Association he presided over until 2003? The images below seem unequivocal to me.
David Bowie’s not one for political vociferations. Occasionally he’ll speak through his art, referring to Iraq and ‘military power’ in his explanation of ‘Fall Dog Bombs the Moon’ from 2003’s ‘Reality’. ‘Under The God’ from Tin Machine’s 1989 debut is about the rise of neo-Nazis, with lyrics about ‘supremacist hate’ and “right wing dicks in their boiler suits”. Perhaps he decided not to speak out traditionally after the fascism imbroglio in the mid 70s, of which he explained later: “I was out of my mind, totally crazed. The main thing I was functioning on was mythology.”
In an interview with The Times, Tony Visconti, whie confirming ‘Valentine’s Day’ is about a shooting, said “the issue for him isn’t so much guns but the mental health of the shooter.” But these clues in the video – a guitar that looks like a sawn-off gun, bullets firing past the fret and then the mirror image of Heston with rifle held aloft – suggest US gun laws are something he cares about very much indeed.