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Forget “Let's Dance,” David Bowie, 66, is back and raising hell – if you will – with his new religion-themed music video “The Next Day,” the title track in his first studio album in 10 years.
Taking a page out of Madonna and Lady Gaga’s playbooks, Bowie’s latest offering is wrought with racy religious imagery and stars Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard and Oscar-nominated actor Gary Oldman.
Directed by Fiona Sigismondi, the controversial video opens with a priest played by Oldman punching a street-urchin beggar in the face, then entering a club -- while perving at women’s backsides -- filled with less-than-saintly behavior. Cotillard embodies a prostitute-turned-saint while Bowie rocks out on stage as the Christ-like figure in robes, while nearly-naked folks dance provocatively around him. In the background, a Cardinal can be seen dealing in cash and a nun prays, all before the stigmata saturates the scene.
The contentious music clip, deemed “a bloody battle between the sacred and the profane,” was banned from YouTube for “violating terms of service” just a few hours after its release on Wednesday, and returned with an age restriction a little while later.
But some say Bowie’s creative vision mocks Christianity, and wish it was gone altogether.
“The video is offensive and distasteful. It is a misrepresentation of the multitudes of clergy who have given their lives to help hurting people. Undeniably, some clergy have misused their position, but to focus on these few is a character assault of their position and call,” Jay Lowder of Harvest Ministries told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “Bowie’s verse claiming ‘they work with Satan while they dress like saints,’ is to attribute God’s work through man as being sinister and evil in its origin. I find it hard to excavate any level of truth or reality from this video except Jesus was continually in the midst of those who were blind and sinful.”
Musician Norman Matthew said Bowie knew just what he was doing using religious imagery in his video.
“This type of imagery in music videos going back to Madonna's ‘Like A Prayer’ is so popular because it ruffles so many feathers and let's face it, controversy creates cash,” he said . “David Bowie wouldn't be on the lips of everyone at this very moment if he didn't break some new ground and unfortunately, flowers on the doorstep just doesn't get it done these days.”
Others argue that the famed rocker is simply expressing himself as an artist.
“As far as finding the clip offensive, I certainly do not. There are plenty of movies and shows on TV that are worse than this. It’s not real, it’s just a show or an act,” said Claude Zdanow, Founder and President of New York-based entertainment company, Stadiumred. “People need to lighten up… Music has always been influenced and built-up around things that stir people up and topics that people can relate too.”
And according to emerging songstress Erica Chase, music and art is the one place where boundaries can be pushed and rules can be broken.
“Artists have the ability to say what lay people and politicians often cannot because there is a demand for it,” she continued. “And religion encircles the great unknown: what is the purpose of this life and what happens after. Bowie and Gaga are just as uncertain as you and I about all that, so why can’t we enjoy a catchy song with an imaginative video to boot?”
A rep for Bowie did not respond to a request for further comment.