David Bowie and the NRA

It's no coincidence that David Bowie's pose in the 2013 video Valentine's Day is similar to that of former NRA president Charlton Heston.
It’s no coincidence that David Bowie’s pose in the 2013 video Valentine’s Day is similar to that of former NRA president Charlton Heston.

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.

2013DavidBowie_Press_300713That 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.

David Bowie decries gun violence with an NRA ad superimposed on the video.
David Bowie decries gun violence with an NRA ad superimposed on the video. Screenshot from my personal laptop computer.

2013DavidBowie_Video_Press_300713In 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.

Here's hoping that David Bowie finds a better world than the one he just left.
David Bowie in a final image from his Lazarus video. Here’s hoping that he finds a better world than the one he just left.



Add yours →

  1. I didn’t follow Bowie’s music — not because I didn’t like it but because, while in college and during my 20s and 30s, my preference was jazz, classical and folk. But what you describe does, indeed, show a callous disregard for what he was trying to say in that video. That the NRA is apparently behind it doesn’t surprise me, although the few members I know surely wouldn’t condone it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t ever remember seeing any NRA ads on YouTube or anywhere on the Interwebs. I wonder if they are advertising more these days. And if so, could it be because membership is stagnating? I don’t know that it is. Maybe they’re just branding in new places. Or maybe I’m not the demographic and I just never see them. But it’s comforting to consider that maybe people are waking up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. RIP from an avid Bowie YouTube follower. Still waiting on my limited edition LP. No guns here.

    Liked by 2 people

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