If you’re of a certain vintage, you’ll have fond memories of music television. Entire stations were devoted to airing accompanying videos for many of the most popular new songs: from straightforward performances to those that challenged the medium with appropriate stories or imagery to accentuate the song’s themes.
However, before the days of YouTube, channels such as MTV and VH1 had to be very aware of the limitations of what they showed. Pushed by advertising partners to stay on the air, they didn’t want to interrupt the flow of money by upsetting the mega corporations sending their checks.
Will your sexy music video be at odds with this family announcer? Will your violent implications disturb the average suburban mother? And don’t you dare lift that particular finger…!
As such, many videos over the years have been dropped by these stations. Rather than fade into obscurity however, many have soared into the makings of a controversial legend. The word “forbidden” instinctively piques curiosity. Why did this happen? And is it possible that I can still see it?
The following music videos have been victims of censorship and their concerns, whether founded or not.
The 1980s were a peak period of expressionism in all the arts we know today, perhaps no more so than music. Music video as a format was on the rise and people were experimenting with what they could do to sell their singles and pushing buttons is always an easy way to get to the top.
That’s not to say that Queen’s 1982 release Body Language is cheap or exploitative — in fact, its clammy skin scenes in a dimly lit room are ideal for the sexy tone of the band’s funky dance floor. However, Queen was never shy and Body Language earned the band the honor of entering the Guinness Book of World Records for “first music video banned by MTV”.
By today’s standards, it really is rather tame and the reason given as “nudity” is rather laughable now that no erogenous bits or bobs actually appear. But right off the bat, the whole affair has a raunchy, steamy feel to it that sometimes crosses the lines into homoerotic territory as the group struts around their sweaty leather models.
Body Language eventually found itself returning to air later, like VH1 Classic, as sexuality in music videos quickly became the norm and Body Language was no bolder than what had followed it.