I’ve never seen the unedited video.
It’s hard to imagine in these times, just how much of an uproar the unedited version of David Bowie’s China Girl video created when it was first released in 1983.
The effect on ordinary folk was like that scene in Perfume, with folk ripping off each other’s clothes and fornicating in the streets and the like.
OK, it wasn’t quite like that, but there was certainly a right brouhaha in the press and it was even banned by TV stations the world over.
The David Mallet directed video featured New Zealand model Geeling Ng, and the final moments of the video with her naked in the surf with Bowie (which got some a little hot under the collar), was a visual reference to the film From Here To Eternity.
Of course, this was all a bit of a distraction from the intended message of the video and possibly even Iggy Pop’s original lyric too.
Mainly shot in the Chinatown district of Sydney, the China Girl video (along with the previous Let’s Dance video), was a critique of racism with Bowie describing it as a “very simple, very direct” statement against racism.
Bowie said in Rolling Stone that same year: “Let’s try to use the video format as a platform for some kind of social observation, and not just waste it on trotting out and trying to enhance the public image of the singer involved. I mean, these are little movies, and some movies can have a point, so why not try to make some point.”
And in another interview at the time, Bowie opined: “The message that they [the videos] have is very simple, it’s wrong to be racist!”
Which is funny, because Iggy Pop says the lyrics are about his infatuation with Kuelan Nguyen as a metaphor for his time with the Stooges.