XXX

07.18.13

Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll, and YouTube

Where should the video site draw the line?

Youtube has had its hands full with explicit content this summer. First there were the topless sensations in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” then came more topless sensations in Justin Timberlake’s “Tunnel Vision.”

In the second, more recent video, scantily clad women dance while a fully clothed Justin Timberlake sings among them. Smoke envelopes women rolling around on the floor, as if in a haphazard attempt to conceal their bodies. And the singer’s face is projected onto the naked dancer’s bodies—but that’s perhaps more a crime of narcissism than vulgarity.

According to Rolling Stone, the video was taken down just hours after its debut for violating the website’s explicit content policy. Later, however, YouTube lifted the ban on the grounds that it was artistic. They instated an age restriction, allowing only users 18 and over to see the video, but of course that's meaningless on the Internet.

It’s inconsistent of the site to waver back and forth between censorship of Timberlake, all the while allowing the just-as-racy “Blurred Lines” to stay live. Google (which owns YouTube) allows nudity on film when the content is documentary, educational, or artistic. These videos certainly don’t fall into the former two categories, and the argument that they’re “art” is flimsy—they’re purely explicit (not to mention exploitative), and they should have no place on an easily accessible web site.