Today would have been David Bowie’s 76th birthday so it only feels appropriate that our music video of the day should come from him. In I’m Afraid of Americans, Bowie is pursued through New York City by Trent Reznor.
This is a song that has been interpreted and re-interpreted several times through the years. Bowie himself indicated that the song wasn’t anti-American as much as it was about America’s cultural and commercial dominance over much of the world. Of course, more recently, other critics have insisted in finding a message about the current state of American politics in the song’s lyrics, despite the fact that Bowie died before the start of our current political era. Myself, when I watched the video, I immediately thought of the paranoia that many felt and some still feel about COVID, with Bowie representing the wealthy city dweller who finds himself fleeing from anyone who he fears might be unvaccinated or infected. Like all great songs and videos, I’m Afraid of Americans can mean a host of different things depending on when you watch or listen to it.