Censorship in Music Videos

Eli Roth video
21Nov

Earlier this week footage from an Eli Roth-directed video emerged of Lana Del Rey being sexually assaulted. In the video, she is pushed on to a bed and raped before he walks away leaving her teary-eyed.

It was initially reported that the footage was shot for a Marilyn Manson music video but this has since been denied by the singer’s representative.

No matter the intended use, the footage raises some interesting questions about the depiction of rape in art. Many movies have contained footage of sexual assault – A Clockwork Orange, Scum and Straw Dogs, to name a few – and although they have received some criticism for doing so – Straw Dogs was banned in the UK for a number of years and an edited version was released in the US – there seems to be more of an acceptance of dramatising such footage in film than there is in music or music videos.

In fact, music videos appear to face stricter rules regarding censorship, often for far more innocuous content. For instance, Foo Fighters saw their music video for the song “Low” banned for fairly harmless footage. In the video, Dave Grohl and Jack Black dress up in women’s clothing and spend a night in a hotel together before waking up the next morning looking slightly ashamed of themselves. The general tone of the video was tongue-in-cheek, yet this did not stop MTV refusing to air the video.

So are music videos held up to tougher scrutiny than other forms of art, namely film, for their content? If so, should they be? Or is it that music videos are more freely available thus should be more mindful of their message?

Or is it correct to ban this type of footage as it contributes to the culture of sexual harassment that has been highlighted by so many news stories in recent times.

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