Are music videos becoming too violent? 

It was announced last month that music videos in the United Kingdom will now be getting age ratings the same way that films do. The scheme is a government pilot  and Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner music are now sending videos to the BBFC before putting them onto YouTube or Vevo.

certificate 18

certificate 18

When it was announced, only one video has got an 18 certificate (Dizzee Rascal) and 53 were classified 15 and 56 were classified 12 out of the 132 videos submitted. It is stated that the ratings will only apply to videos made in the United Kingdom but is this right? Should it be extended to include other countries such as United States of America too?

Back in the days when internet wasn’t as easy to access / wasn’t around as much we used to rely solely on television channels to watch new up and coming music videos. When I was a kid inn the early 2000’s I always used to wait eagerly for Top Of the Pops, The Chart Show  or CD:UK to come on to watch the latest and up and coming music videos. If a video was too rude for these shows they were banned from the shows and sometimes, Top Of the Pops would do a late show where they would premier the videos. Now, even if it is only 15 years ago, these were in some ways very tame to the music videos we have today. If you compare videos that were censored back then such as Robbie Williams Rock DJ (where he peels his skin off to dancing women to impress them) they are nothing compared to what we have on television these days.

Rock DJ

Rock DJ

To put this into perspective, here are three examples of videos that have been banned in the past:

Dead End Street – The Kinks 

This was the first music video to be banned by the BBC, It is a music video where members of the band are working as pallbearers carrying a coffin and the corpse jumps out of the coffin alive and well was seen as tasteless.

Just Lose It – Eminem 

This music video was disliked very much by one person, and that was non other then Michael Jackson who lets be honest has every reason to. The video shows Michael Jackson with his hair on fire and also sitting on a bed surrounded by children with his nose burnt off. Michael called Eminem’s depiction of him ‘inappropriate and disrespectful’ the channel Black Entertainment Television ended up banning the video as well.

God Save The Queen – Sex Pistols 

In 1977, The song God Save the Queen by The Sex Pistols was banned across every radio station from the BBC because of its anti-establishment rant. Some of the tabloid press accused the band of treason and even called for a public hanging for the band. Whilst the song was getting really bad backlash, even shops such as Woolworths were refusing to sell it. However, it still sold over 150,000 copies flying off the shelves like wild fire.

Whilst there have been others that have been more controversial then this, including MIA, Madonna and Duran Duran leading the way in some of the most craziest, are they really as bad as some of the videos that we have around in today’s society?

In the recent few years, I have started to notice that high end commercial acts are using more and more violence in their videos – be it to relate to hitting people sexually related or just gore related, is there a justifiable reason for this? Whilst many people argue the point that it is an art form, just like a film and should have be able to portray what they want, should we also be worried that young children are able to firstly view these visions very easily and also that anyone should be able to watch this much gore and violence that is now in some music videos. Is it ok for high end acts such as Rihanna to express this sort of violence without being restricted? How is it ok that we let very popular musicians get away with it when bands such as Slipknot and Marilyn Manson have been for years scrutinised for promoting violence and horrible portrayals and even been accused of being the reason certain crimes have happened.

According to an article in the Independent:

A survey by the BBFC found that up to 60 per cent of children aged 10 to 17 watched music videos of which they thought their parents would disapprove.

A while ago I when they returned to the music scene, I started to watch the chain of music videos for FAll Out Boys return. Now don’t get me wrong, I found their new music was great and I bet there were many people who hadn’t really listened to them the first time round that started to listen to them and I bet some of them were younger.

Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy

The first video was all about the lead up to seeing the band returning to the Lime light and that they had been kidnapped and when I heard that the videos were going to be linked i was interested to see how the story would play out. Then I watched their second video to be released with the album, The Phoenix (which ironically, this blog is named after but not because of the video, just because of the song is so great). I was shocked at the level of graphicness that they had gone to to make the hand look cut off. I let it slide as I was like ok i understand this time why they have done it for the story….then the videos continued. They got more gorier and gorier and the story, that originally was very strong in the first video had been completely lost because all they ended up being about was tearing people from limb to limb and finding another way to graphically kill someone. The band got away with it, however, if it was a band that wasn’t as main stream there would of been uproar.



More recently I heard there was commotion about RIhanna’s song, Bitch Better Have My Money ,now not being a fan of hers i wasn’t going to watch it as had no interest in her videos what so ever. Then i saw the tweets coming in and the feeds on the news about the controversy surrounding it so i watched it.

one of GaGas outfits that caused controversy

one of GaGas outfits that caused controversy

To me, this is how I find the music industry at the moment. There has always been females in the industry that have used shock factor to become famous, Madonna and Lady GaGa are good examples of this. Especially since Madonna has had videos banned, she likes to push the boundaries and GaGa does this too mainly through her fashion more then any other way.  To some point I even ‘get it’ why Miley Cyrus is being the way she is…ok not ALL of her persona but i understand why she came back and revolutionised her look to get away from the Disney life and ‘daddys little girl’ in the media. (I do think that she should now just put it away, everyone has seen pretty much all your body just stop posing pretty much nude all the time).  However with this video I watched it thinking, really Rihanna what point are you seriously trying to make?

BItch Better Have My Money

BItch Better Have My Money

The video sees Rihanna kidnap a wealthy white woman who is then abused by her and her friends with the outcome being she did it to get back at the man. The woman is hung upside down and stripped to nearly naked to then be pretty much beaten to a pulp. In an interview Rihanna has stated that she was making a piece of art. The question is can explicit violence in a music video, which most teenagers look up to for inspiration in life and to get that little bit closer to their idols really be classified as art and not an egotistical movement?

Now, don’t get me wrong its not just violence that is being easy to access, raunchy videos have also been part of this discussion with videos such as Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke being lead contenders in videos that are being certified due to the amount of nakedness and sexuality in them. I think that the certification of music videos is going to be a positive move on the industry – it allows musicians to be artistic without hurting innocent eyes but on the negative side it may also not make the video go as viral as they usually would.

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