News has filtered out that the music video for Rick Ross’ upcoming single “Hold Me Back” has been, well, held back by BET and according to its director TAJ, there was no reason given by the network. If it turns out to contain shots of Ross eating a gigantic hoagie in the nude, then I think we’ll know why. But this is no new occurrence – as long as there have been music videos, music videos have been banned, for reasons both justified and baffling. Here are eleven videos that were deemed unfit for public consumption.
Queen – “Body Language” (MTV)
Believed to be the first video barred by MTV, Body Language’s banning speaks to the conservative climate of the time, as it features loads of sweaty skin but nothing that could be considered very salacious. But here’s the real puzzler: why isn’t Freddy Mercury macking on all these hot chicas? C’mon, pal, they’re right there!
Madonna – “Erotica” (MTV)
Allow me to spirit you away to a time when the world wasn’t bored or disgusted by the idea of a nude Madonna! Because of its sadomasochistic themes and, well, bare frigging breasts, MTV only aired a censored version of this video three times, and in the wee hours of the morning. But Madonna’s camp probably had no intention of the video making air; they also sold it as an unrated VHS tape so they were almost certainly hoping to capitalize on the buzz the TV ban created.
Prodigy – “Smack My Bitch Up” (MTV)
Drunk driving. Cocaine use. Sex. Vandalism. Violence against women. Banned. The ground-breaking POV-style video was eventually cleared for air (though only after midnight) after a mass public outcry, despite the complaints of the US National Organization for Women, who didn’t much seem to care that the video eventually reveals that the protagonist is a woman. Because that would require critical thinking!
Michael Jackson – “Black and White” (MTV)
The dance portion of MJ’s video was cut because it showed him “inappropriately touching himself” and could be considered offensive. Ah, simpler times, when people only had to worry about Michael Jackson touching himself.
Nicki Minaj – “Stupid Hoe” (BET)
There isn’t much objectionable about the video except for its title, and much like with Ross’ clip BET declined to state their reasoning. Is the use of the word “Hoe” in this day and age really reason to blacklist an incredibly popular artist? Couldn’t they have just rated the video “UA” for Unbelievably Annoying and leave it at that?
Sex Pistols – “God Save the Queen” (BBC)
The British Broadcasting Corporation permanently removed this video from rotation because it called the United Kingdom a fascist regime. With good reason, too – if it aired, the property damage from monocles flying off of faces would have been into the millions.
M.I.A. – “Born Free” (YouTube)
I thought you could show anything on YouTube other than boobs and SNL sketches, but apparently not. The video, picturing a SWAT team rounding up youth-aged redheads and executing them one by one, was banned for graphic violence. M.I.A. railed on everyone from the website to her label, before everyone gained the ability to tune her out like static. It was later reinstated with an age verification checkpoint.
Mistah F.A.B. – “Ghost Ride It” (MTV)
Remember ghost-riding, the phenomenon of getting out of your coasting vehicle and dancing on the hood? I’m in favor of any trend that culls the idiots from the general population, but after a few deaths, MTV yanked this video quicker than a Honda Accord can crush a larynx.
Rick James – “Super Freak” (MTV)
The video for James’ defining hit is positively tame by today’s standards, but MTV wasn’t having any of it, saying it was too “over the top” and didn’t fit their format. But cooler heads prevailed, and Rick James bit his tongue in order to preserve his relationship with the powerful outlet. Just kidding, he called them racists. And he might just have a case – there’s nothing wrong with his video, other than the criminal use of hair glitter.
Gnarls Barkley – “Run” (MTV)
The video’s intense strobe effects made it a risk to epileptics, who could suffer devastating seizures, and thus had to be banned. In response, Barkley commented, “It works for me. But I’m not necessarily that easily seasick.” Very sensitive, Gnarls, if that is your real name.
Bjork – “Cocoon” (MTV)
A naked Bjork sings while red ribbons stream from her nipples. Great, they make a music video with my exact fetish and MTV bans it? Guess it’s back to loitering in Michaels for me.