"If the human body's obscene, complain to the manufacturer, not me." Larry Flynt ix

Banned Video

Since the '70s, 'X-rated' video has occupied the time and minds of many American advocates of censorship. In particluar, censors target music videos because American youth access them much easier than other kinds of explicit video.

"The motivation for their existence often has more to do with PR than 'art,' but they can also reflect the nature of popular music to keep pushing the boundaries of acceptability."x

The Prodigy startled censors with their video Smack My Bitch Up (WARNING! If you advocate censorship, this may offend you.) , which is shot from the perspective of one woman. Everyone watching the video sees what she sees.

The controversy begins with her in the shower, and the viewer watches as she gets ready, goes to a dance club, does cocaine, beats up a few guys, goes to a strip club and proceeds to have a lesbian encounter.xi

The video was so graphic that the band reacted negatively . When the Prodigy saw the video for the first time, they hated it. A few weeks later, after speaking with their record label (XL), the band had a new view. They decided what they really wanted to do, was release the video.

They did. The video aired for a short time in 1997 before MTV yanked it from it's rotation, stating that it had no plans of airing the video again.xii

Ironically, the video went on to win "Best Dance Video" at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards. xii

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Banned Media: Music

Challenged Audio: A Brief History

Audio censorship didn't show up yesterday, last year or even in the last decade. It really began to have an affect in the '50s, when the 'rock and roll' craze struck the world.

  • 1951- Radio Staiions ban "Wham Bam, Thank You Ma'am," by artist Dean Martin.
  • 1953- Jukebox operation within hearing distance of a church is outlawed by six South Carolina counties.
  • 1955- Florida and San Diego officials tell Elvis they will arrest him for obscenity, if he moves at all during his his concerts there.
  • 1962- Catholic school students stop doing "The Twist" because New York Bishop Burke finds R&B music and the way people dance to it be un-Christian as well as lewd.
  • 1969- Half of the Top 40 stations in the country keep "The Ballad of John and Yoko" off the airwaves because they find the lyrics about Christ and crucifixion to be blahphemous.
  • 1977- The Rev. Jesse Jackson tries to quell promiscuity and drug use by attempting to ban disco music.
  • 1978- The U.S. denies the Sex Pistols visas to enter the country, initially, on their first American tour.
  • 1985- President Reagan alludes that rock music shouldn't be protected under the Constitution.
  • 1986- The state of California charges singer Jello Biafra, of the Dead Kennedys, with violating the state's penal code 313.1("Distribution of Harmful Material to Minors") for a poster that accompanied a CD, containing a painting by artist H.R. Giger that portrayed many sets of interlocked male and female genetalia.
  • 1990- Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsylvania pass legislation stating that the 2 Live Crew album "Nasty As They Wanna Be" is obscene.
  • 2001- The biggest owner of radio stations in America, Clear Channel Communications, releases a list of more than 150 songs with questionable lyrics that stations may want to pull from their rotations because they seem metaphoric of the September 11 attacks. The list includes "Great Balls of Fire," by Jerry Lee Louis and all songs by Rage Against the Machine. xii