Music videos represent a form of expressing an artistic message, but many artists sometimes make a statement that is considered to be offensive. Therefore the music video gets censored due to these offensive messages.
The definition of offensive music videos is different from one country to another. What is considered to be offensive in one country could be seen as a completely normal behaviour in another. The reason for this situation is the diversity of cultures that have different laws and different ethics. The label company which is usually producing the music video is aware of this phenomenon, so videos are being edited and distributed in a censored version and an uncensored one for a single artist. Despite these efforts on behalf of the producers, some videos still get banned as they are still regarded as being too offensive to be broadcasted to the public.
The first music video to be ever banned was ‘Girls on film’. It was banned by MTV in 1981, the very year of the birth of this TV station. This music video was considered to display too much amount of flesh and it was also banned by BBC for reasons of excessive nudity. Madonna had a lot of music videos that got banned for different causes. The ‘Justify my love’ music video was particularly censored for its display of homosexuality, sadomasochism and group sex. Another Madonna music video, ‘What it feels like for a girl’ was also banned by MTV because it displayed too much violence. And Madonna was banned again years later for the ‘American Life’ music video as it was considered to send an anti-American message. The artist was forced to shoot another video for the song.
But Madonna isn’t the only artist who has ever been banned. The ‘Smack my bitch up’ music video by Prodigy was also banned, but only in a few countries, as it contained images displaying drug use and nudity. Even the music video for the hit song ‘Firestarter’ by Prodigy was censored by BBC as it was considered to send a violent message for arson. The ‘God save the queen’ music video for the Sex Pistols was also censored by BBC for making an anti-royal statement.
Taking all these bans into consideration, there is no wonder that Egypt has banned around 20 music videos for their display of sexually-charged images!
Surprisingly, but even innocent music videos become victims of censorships. For instance, REM’s ‘Losing My Religion’ music video was censored in Ireland as it was displaying images which were considered to mock religion.
In conclusion, music videos have been banned along the years for all sorts of reasons: religion, nudity, violence, drugs etc. One thing needs to be said: the fact that a music video gets banned doesn’t mean it has a poor artistic value, it plainly means that the message is inappropriate to be broadcasted on national television.