If you lived in a household that broadcast MTV for more than about 30 seconds at any point throughout the 1990s, you’re probably already very familiar with Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” video. Croak-narrated by frontman Eddie Vedder, the video was undeniably eye-catching, featuring jump-cut editing, enigmatic but menacing text, and short vignettes of its title character slowly being pushed to the precipice of violence, all while Vedder reminds us that “Jeremy spoke in class today.”
Now, to commemorate National Gun Violence Awareness Day, the band has released the original, uncensored version of the video, including scenes that show actor Trevor Wilson placing a gun in his own mouth, which were deemed too explicit to broadcast on MTV back in the day. (For whatever reason, the aftermath of that moment, in which Jeremy’s shocked classmates are covered in blood, was not.)
The irony of the censored version of “Jeremy,” of course, is that it’s always opened up interpretations of the video as being darker than it actually is—admittedly, a relative concept—since it’s very possible to read the last moments as showing Jeremy turning his gun on his classmates instead of himself. (A reading that’s only become more plausible as gun violence in American schools has increased exponentially in the 28 years since the song’s release.) The restored version makes the band and director Mark Pellington’s intent quite a bit more clear (if only marginally less gruesome); it’s also pointedly intended to highlight America’s ongoing problems with gun violence (alongside its ongoing problems with pretty much everything else).