- The title, "Blackstar," is evocative of a number of things occult, including references in Thelema and latter-day Gnostic creeds in which Stars figure prominently -- "I believe in one secret and ineffable LORD; and in one Star in the Company of Stars of whose fire we are created, and to which we shall return."
Contrary to what the Christianist critics imagine, this is not actually quoting anything from Crowley... but it could be seen as giving such sentiments a "black magic" twist.
This of course would all be irrelevant babbling if it weren't for the rest of the imagery in the video.
- The video and song seem to take place from the viewpoint of a black magic cult. The dead astronaut in the beginning, aside from being a visual quotation of "Major Tom" from his earlier "space" songs, resonates curiously with direct reference in the lyrics to fallen angels -- "how many times can an angel fall" -- and of course there's the matter of his skull being a jewelled artifact and becoming the object of cult veneration. Those who read this as symbolically alluding to occult power acquired from fallen angels (or demonic sources) have something of a point. That reading is at the very least being heavily implied.
- The random tail on the girl who finds the skull is probably just a random tail that they thought would be sexy. But it's hard to believe they didn't also realize that certain people would read it as a devil's tail; it's also baiting the occult / black magic reading.
- Button-Eyes Bowie and his acolytes are carefully calibrated to a) look like they're engaged in something like religious worship and b) look like what they're doing is a creepy, sinister mockery of religious worship. The twitchy, "possessed"-looking dancing has been seen before in "Fashion"
, where it kind of functioned as an arch commentary on fashion-worship. Here it's a commentary on worship generally, maybe, both the occult variety and maybe those of "mainstream" religion (though the Christian critics will see only the latter critique).
- Preacher-Bowie ostentatiously brandishing the Black Star Bible in Maoist propaganda poster style and Trickster-Bowie singing "Something happened on the day he died / Spirit rose a meter and stepped aside / Somebody else took his place and bravely cried / 'I'm a blackstar! I'm a blackstar!'" are both presenting the cult being portrayed, and perhaps also the Christianity* that cult is lampooning, as being rooted in deception, con-artistry and propaganda. Trickster-Bowie actually literally thumbs his nose at his would-be followers. This is where the humour comes in, at least partly: he's lampooning everyone
, the act of being a follower itself.
- * And it's clearly Christianity being referred to, both in the thicket of references to "execution" (w/ possible mocking twist on the Lamentation of Christ, traditionally attended mostly by women, in "on the day of execution / only women kneel and smile"), rising spirits and in the later visual appearance of scarecrows set up to echo the Crucifixion. The video's director claims that nobody involved was consciously aware of crucifixion imagery with the writhing scarecrows. I flat-out don't believe him, and I especially don't believe it of the immensely literate Bowie, on whom such an obvious parallel couldn't possibly be lost.
- The group of women worshiping "Major Tom's" skull are thirteen in number, a fairly unmistakable reference to the traditional numbers of a witches' coven. The "ritual" itself has the Christianists fooled into thinking they're seeing actual witchcraft, which, I don't know that much about the specific of pagan ritual but I very much doubt there's anything much here to suggest a real magickal rite, it's mostly just random slightly-sinister dancing. But it's certainly working hard to evoke the general sensibility of being an occult ritual.
- The Christianist "it's Satanism!" bedwetters, however, seem to entirely miss the whole last part of the video... because this ritual appears to actually summon something, and it's a horrific chthonic monster out of the darkest days of Doctor Who's props budget. Which again strikes me as an arch commentary -- one Crowley would have certainly agreed with -- on what you can actually expect to get out of playing with black magic, with being a "black" Star, as it were. (Again the question is open as to what degree this critique extends to all