Is David Bowie's New Music Video Too Anti-Religion for YouTube?

Esther Zuckerman

Fresh off shopping with Tilda Swinton, David Bowie's video for "The Next Day," the second single off his successful new album, puts him in the position of Jesus, sees Marion Cotillard get a stigmata (gushing blood included), and turns Gary Oldman into a priest. There is also a man flogging himself, and a golden-nippled woman writhing around. This may not be appealing to everyone.

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Indeed, since the music video debuted overnight, reports have emerged from places like Sky News and Billboard that YouTube has pulled the clip because it "violated YouTube's Terms of Service." And while there has been no official word that any ban would have been connected to the video's religious imagery, many are assuming Bowie took things a little too far with his playing on religious symbolism this time. The video could violate some of YouTube's Community Guidelines, which state that "graphic or gratuitous violence is not allowed" and that they "don't permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity)." Bowie, of course, has never been one to shy away from being a provocateur.  

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And despite the apparent pulling from YouTube, you can still play the video for "The Next Day" on YouTube via Bowie's YouTube Vevo page, making the uproar somewhat of a mystery. 

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We've reached out to representatives for both Google and Bowie to comment. The video itself, however, is definitely worth a watch, at least for the sake of a weirdly fascinating music video. It's directed by Floria Sigismondi, who directed Bowie's first video off his first album in a decade, also called The Next Day. As Entertainment Weekly points out, the new video's imagery echoes some of the religious allusions in the song itself.