Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Rihanna's newest video, "Man Down," which features depictions of sexual assault and murder, faced immediate objections from the Parents Television Council who asked that it not be aired. TIME takes a look at other videos that have pushed boundaries in the name of art.

10. Fiona Apple, "Criminal"

In her 1997 music video for "Criminal," an emaciated Fiona Apple, surrounded by what appear to be tranquilized models, undresses as she croons lyrics such as, "I've been a bad, bad girl." Apple's appearance, described by The New Yorker as being similar to that of an "underfed Calvin Klein model," spurred accusations that the video promoted a "heroin chic" and had "overtones of child porn." Taking a fiercely uncompromising stance against her critics, Apple said, as she accepted her MTV Video Music Award for best new artist later that year, "Everybody out there that's watching ... this world is bullshit and you shouldn't model your life about what you think that we think is cool."
9. Christina Aguilera, "Dirrty"

This 2002 song from Christina Aguilera's album Stripped had plenty of raunch and chaps, but it was a message hidden to most that raised a flag — in Thailand. Amid the grinding, suggestive hand motions and scant clothing, are signs that hint at illegal sex trafficking in Thailand in the background as Aguilera dances in a boxing ring. Translated from Thai, the signs read: "Thailand's Sex Tourism" and "Young Underage Girls." While Aguilera's record label contended the singer had no idea what the signs meant when translated, Thailand banned the video from airing in the country.
8. Madonna, "Like a Prayer"

A word of advice: if you don't want to anger religious organizations, don't make a music video that includes a scene in which a woman seduces a saint. Madonna's music video for the title track off her 1989 album Like a Prayer — which also features burning crosses and stigmata — was denounced by the American Family Association and by Pepsi Co., which had reportedly paid the pop star $5 million to use the song in a commercial and didn't appreciate the negative press.
7. Garth Brooks, "Thunder Rolls"
Though it was named CMA Music Video of the Year in 1991, Garth Brooks' "Thunder Rolls" caused quite a storm in the country music scene. The video's depiction of domestic violence between a vengeful wife and a cheating husband, caused The Nashville Network (TNN) and Country Music Thttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifelevision (CMT) to ban its airing. But the criticism wasn't unanimous: several radio stations started "Save the Video" petitions arose and some women's shelters voiced support. Brooks' own wife allegedly disapproved of scenes in the video, but later defended her husband when the controversy drew public attention.
6. Erykah Badu, "Window Seat"
In the one-take video for "Window Seat," R&B singer Erykah Badu walks along Dallas' Elm Street, taking off articles of clothing as the song progresses. Finally, completely nude (but blurred), she falls down in Dealey Plaza, near the site of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, as if she herself was shot. The singer said her video, released in March 2010, was a protest against "groupthink" and a culture thhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifat discourages individual expression. But Badu's move wasn't only controversial, according to the city of Dallas it was also illegal, as Badu never got a permit to film. After a Dallas resident filed a complaint, Badu was charged with disorderly conduct. She paid a $500 fine and served six months probation.
5. Eminem, "Stan"

Warning: This video contains explicit content.

Eminem, who engaged in a public feud with two-time ex-wife Kimberly Scott, hasn't always been one to portray a stable family life. But in "Stan," his 2000 track about an obsessive and deranged fan, the assault takes a physical turn. Stan, who describes himself as Em's "biggest fan," is looking for a simple reply from his hero. With each letter that goes unanswered, Stan sinks deeper into rage, which he takes out on his pregnant wife. The oft-censored (or even outright banned) video shows Stan's string of domestic abuse coming to a head when he puts his wife in the trunk of their car and then crashes off a bridge. MTV, for one, spliced out all traces of Stan's wife bound in the trunk of the car and removed one scene showing him guzzling vodka while driving before airing the video. But even without the most graphic scenes, the dark video manages to paint a gruesome picture of fandom gone wrong.
4. Rihanna, "Man Down"

In the video for her latest song "Man Down," Rihanna sings to a reggae beat about avenging a sexual assault by shooting the perpetrator in the head. The sexual assault isn't displayed in detail, but the shot to the head is. The Parents Television Council has protested the video as violent and inappropriate, calling on BET and MTV to stop airing it. When news of the backlash got back to Rihanna on June 2, she tweeted, "I'm a 23 year old rockstar with NO KIDS! What's up with everybody wantin me to be a parent?" and later: "U can't hide your kids from society,or they'll never learn how to adapt! This is the REAL WORLD!" When BET refused to remove the video from the air, Paul Porter, co-founder of Industry Ears, a think tank that supports banning the video, said: "While we all agree rape is a terrible crime, 'Man Down' offers no positive solution for rape victims except vigilante justice."

This isn't the first time one of Rihanna's videos has been called into quhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifestion. Earlier this year, her song "S&M" generated a video full of all the things you would expect a song of that title to contain: chains, whips, sexually suggestive poses and bare skin. The video was banned in 11 countries and users trying to watch it on YouTube have to verify their age.
3. The Prodigy, "Smack My B____ Up"

Warning: This video contains explicit content.

Named by MTV the most controversial video ever aired on the network, "Smack My B____ Up" depicts a whirlwind, first-person night-on-the-town gone horribly wrong. Not only do the song's lyrics promote violence, but the video also includes sex with prostitutes, cocaine use, female nudity, drunk driving and violence against women. For the video, The Prodigy was accused of misogyny and glorifying violence despite the twist ending (hint: the protagonist is a woman), and the video was initially banned from television. Fans demanded that MTV show the video, however, so the network relented and included the song on an after-hours countdown.
2. M.I.A., "Born Free"

Redheads can't seem to catch a break. They sunburn easily, they get called "ginger" and in M.I.A.'s 2010 "Born Free" video, they are senselessly slaughtered. The 8-and-a-half minute mini-movie follows SWAT teams as they round up redheads, take them to a field and execute them. A close-up shot of a young child's murder is so graphic that most networks and websites refused to air the video. (You can see it on M.I.A.'s website here or you can watch the murder-free live performance above.) But there is a message behind the madness: the film can be viewed as a statement against genocide and racial profiling. Sadly, this fictional slaughter is not much different from many massacres that have actually taken place.
1. Marilyn Manson, "(S)aint"

The 2003 video of Marilyn Manson's "(S)aint" features scenes of self-mutilation, full female nudity, masturbation, cocaine snorting and cunnilingus, so perhaps it's not at all surprising that parent label Interscope Records refused to release it in the U.S. The video, which Manson financed himself, was aired in Japan and Germany allowed the video, but the genitalia and sexual acts were blurred. Yet, despite the overly graphic scenes in the unedited version (which can be seen on YouTube here), the most unsettling part of the video is watching Manson take a bath.
Source: Time


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