I hate to pick on Maggie during a time of spiritual crisis, but I couldn’t help but notice yesterday that she chose to communicate her despair at shifting Catholic attitudes toward gays by posting . . . a very sad song about unrequited love written by a gay man, accompanied by a video that is 1.) probably the best evidence for the argument that music videos did rise to the condition of art for about five minutes there in the early 1990s; and 2.) one of the gayest gay things in the history of gay things.
Tarsem Singh’s famous video is in fact largely organized around a gay icon, that being a homoerotic image of St. Sebastian. But then Tarsem can hardly help himself when it comes to that sort of thing, e.g. gladiators (“Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?”), Britney Spears, a Roman emperor played by Enrique Iglesias, and a Freddie Mercury show-stopper all roped together . . . in a Pepsi commercial.
The “Losing My Religion” video was received in some circles as Michael Stipe’s coming out, though Stipe says that that’s reading far too much into it, that the song is only about “a crush,” as he put it. In any case, Stipe seems to have had very little to do with the video, which is much more obviously Tarsem’s work than anyone else’s.
The video is a beautiful piece of work, but I’m not sure that it has any connection to the song, really, or that it is about anything for that matter: It’s a string of disconnected images from Caravaggio (“Deposition,” “The Incredulity of St. Thomas,” etc.), Andrei Tarkovsky, South Asian religious art, and what are presumably scenes from Gabriel García Márquez’s “Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.” Stipe says the expression “losing my religion” is a Southernism meaning “at my wits’ end,” but I cannot find an example of its being used anywhere other than the song.
In any case, if you really want to underline your frustration with the state of intra-Catholic factional disputes about gays, consider the extra-super-strength-gay version of the song from Glee.