Are The New Music Video Censorship Laws A Load of Bullsh*t?

  • Words: Saorise O'Leary

UK-produced music videos are to be stamped with age restricted ratings in order to protect children from “graphic content” when viewing videos on YouTube and Vimeo.

From October 1, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is rolling out a six-month trial scheme across major labels Sony, Warner and Universal, which will later extend to independent labels. The findings are based on a report by the BBFC which decided that music videos were comparable to “watching a film concentrated into three minutes”, and so should feature film-style ratings.

With 2014 having produced fine cinematic moments from both Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus, perhaps it is time we took steps to shield the nation’s more impressionable retinas?

The new ratings however take the format of 12, 15, 18 and R18 classifications and appear to be nothing more than a naive and lazy move by the government to protect “youngsters”.

Critics of the new regulations have expressed concerns it will strangle creative freedom, particularly for marginalised groups, as traditionally censorship has deemed female, queer and non-white sexuality far more offensive than hetero-normative male sexuality. Earlier this year, Minaj accused the industry of having double standards as he Anaconda album artwork was met with outcry, while thin, white bikini sporting FHM models are celebrated.

Typically, under-eighteens are pretty well versed in finding ways to view material that they aren’t supposed to so it’s unlikely that these new regulations will really do anything to protect children from viewing music videos containing sexual or violent imagery. What it will do however, is have a stifling effect on the artistic expression of musicians as they seek to show intelligent and sensitive concerns through the symbolism of sex and violence.

In the words of FKA Twigs, “Why shouldn’t younger people learn and explore about what sexuality is as an adult? Why shouldn’t they do that? We’re not living in Victorian Britain, do we want to be repressed? Do we want to have these kids doing weird things behind closed doors or should this be a country that is leading by example in explaining to people?”