With the death this week of rock superstar David Bowie, I’ve been listening to a lot of his music and watching his videos on YouTube. While the new stuff from his last album, Blackstar, has drawn the most attention, it’s his 2013 song and video, Valentine’s Day, that draws my interest today.
That Bowie was speaking out against gun violence with his lyrics and video isn’t new. The song is ostensibly about the Valentine’s Day shooting on the campus of Northern Illinois University in 2008, which claimed the lives of five people and injured 21 before the shooter, Steven Kazmierczak, took his own life.
Imagine my surprise and disgust, then, when a National Rifle Association popup ad flashed onto my screen while watching the video.
During subsequent replays, other ads popped up, too, so if you actually want to see the NRA’s filth for yourself, you might have to replay the video several times before it pops up again, but my screen shot is proof that it’s there.
In the video, Bowie sings while playing a Hohner guitar, but his gestures and the shadow play on the wall make it evident that he’s making a subtle commentary about gun violence. During one scene, featured at the top of this page, Bowie holds his guitar aloft in a pose quite similar to one struck by former NRA president Charlton Heston. It’s certainly no coincidence.
Advertisements that pop up on your computer screen are very much content-specific, so I suppose it’s not surprising that a domestic terrorist organization like the NRA would choose to solicit new members on David Bowie’s video decrying gun deaths on a college campus eight years ago, and to do so in the same week as Bowie’s passing is jarringly insensitive. No coincidence, and again, not surprising.
Thanks, David, for trying. Wherever you stop next, I hope you find a better world than the one you just left.