February 18, 2015

YouTube’s Blurred Lines Of Decency

By Kelly Orgill, NCSE Intern

From Robin Thicke to Justin Timberlake and Miley Cyrus, 2014 seems to top the years with its explicit music videos, promotion of pornography, degradation of women and violence. YouTube has had to make decisions regarding content from all three artists.

Thicke’s video, “Blurred Lines” is considered rape themed and provocative. It was immediately banned from 20 university unions in the United Kingdom upon its release.

Blurred Lines

Thicke justified his video by claiming he is family man in an interview with GQ.

“We tried to do everything that was taboo… bestiality, drug injections and everything that is completely derogatory towards women because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, ‘We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this,’” said Thicke. “People say, ‘Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I’m like, ‘Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.’ So we just wanted to turn it over on its head.”

YouTube did remove “Blurred Lines” from its site. However, YouTube still offers alternative pornographic music videos and other material.

Justin Timberlake has contributed to the archives of explicit videos with “Take Back the Night”. After receiving complaints, Timberlake apologized for the video’s content.

In the same month, Timberlake also released “Tunnel Vision”. YouTube set a ban on this video, but later lifted the ban due to arguments of the video’s artistic merit.

“While our guidelines generally prohibit nudity, we make exceptions when it is presented in an educational, documentary or artistic context, and take care to add appropriate warnings and age restrictions,” said a Google spokesperson to ABC news.

While not all artists can be forced to change the content they release, YouTube could tighten their safety features and policies.

According to the Internet Safety Project, YouTube allows users 18 and older to view additional adult content by creating an account. Yet, there is no safety feature to check if the user is actually 18 or older.

Timberlake’s explicit videos are still available through open access on YouTube along with an implied nude Cyrus in her music video “Wrecking Ball”.

Help us urge YouTube to change the way they operate in 2015!

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National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health crisis of pornography.

Further Reading