Censorship on MTV

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Censorship on MTV has been the subject of debate for years. MTV, the first and most popular music television network in the U.S., has come under criticism for being too politically correct and sensitive, censoring too much of their programming. MTV altered or removed shows from the channel's schedule and music videos were censored, moved to late-night rotation, or banned entirely from the channel.

Political correctness[edit]

MTV came under criticism for being too politically correct and sensitive when it came to censorship. This was most prevalent in the eventual decline of the hit show Jackass. The creators of Jackass often felt that MTV's producers did not let the show run its free course due to the excessive restraints placed on the Jackass team.

MTV's influence also affected its famous animated program, Beavis and Butt-head. In the wake of controversy that followed a child burning down his house after allegedly watching the show, "producers moved the show from its original 7 p.m. time slot to a late-night, 11 p.m. slot. Also, Beavis' tendency to flick a lighter and scream the word "fire" was removed from new episodes, and controversial scenes were removed from existing episodes before rebroadcast.[1] Some of the edits were so extensive that when series creator Mike Judge compiled his Collection DVDs he found out that "some of those episodes may not even exist actually in their original form".[2]

The Parents Television Council has argued that much of the censored material on MTV is easily discernible because of the context in which it is presented.[3][4]

Religion and race[edit]

In the 1980s, parent-media watchdog groups such as the PMRC criticized MTV over certain music videos that were claimed to have explicit imagery of Satanism. MTV has developed a strict policy on refusal to air videos that may depict devil worship or anti-religious bigotry.[5] This led MTV to ban the videos for "Jesus Christ Pose" by Soundgarden[6] and "Megalomaniac" by Incubus.[7]

Usually, all racial slurs are censored on MTV music videos[8] and programming.[9] MTV has emphasized racial tolerance and diversity awareness for people of all races and creeds.[10]

Censored music videos[edit]

Videos moved to late-night or obscure rotation[edit]

To deal with criticism over risque content in certain videos, MTV moved certain videos to late-night rotation in censored format. Such videos included "If I Could Turn Back Time" by Cher and "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot.[5]

In February 2004, following the controversial Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show in which performer Justin Timberlake caused the exposure of a breast of co-performer Janet Jackson, MTV made several efforts to limit daytime rotation of music videos that it felt had too much sexual content to be shown following the controversy. Such videos included "This Love" by Maroon 5, "Splash Waterfalls" by Ludacris, "The Jump Off" by Lil' Kim, "Toxic" by Britney Spears, "I Miss You" by Blink-182, "Salt Shaker" by Ying Yang Twins, and "Hotel" by Cassidy. Additionally, the video for "Megalomaniac" by Incubus was pushed back not because of sexual content but because of depictions of German leader Adolf Hitler and people drinking oil.[7] Madonna's "Erotica" was aired on MTV only after midnight because of its sexual and dark scenes. In an interview, Madonna said she agreed with MTV's attitude about the video: “I know that the themes I'm exploring in the video are not for children, so I understand that they can't play it earlier.” Also, the video for "Smack My Bitch Up" by The Prodigy was initially given late-night rotation on MTV's 120 Minutes due to a fistfight, sexual scenes and allegedly misogynistic language in the lyrics[11] but was removed from rotation after one week, a decision supported by the feminist group National Organization for Women.[12] The song "Étienne" by Guesch Patti was moved to late-night rotation in MTV Europe due to a striptease scene.[13] The video "Prison Sex" by Tool was shown only on MTV's former rock-oriented digital cable channel MTVX due to sexual and violent content,[14] but went on to be nominated for an MTV Video Music Award in 1995 for Best Special Effects.[15] Alleged glorification of gun violence led MTV to show an edited version of the video "99 Problems" by Jay-Z only between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.[16] Only MTV2 would play the Public Enemy video "Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need" because it contained a line "free Mumia."[17][18]

Banned music videos[edit]

From MTV in the United States[edit]

From MTV in Europe[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Censorship & Scandals: Beavis & Butt-head
  2. ^ Mike Judge (2005). Beavis and Butt-head: The Mike Judge Collection Volume 1 Taint to Greatness the Journey of Beavis and Butt-head (Part 1) (DVD). 
  3. ^ "I Want My Foul TV" (Press release). Parents Television Council. 2005-08-11. Retrieved 2006-04-16. 
  4. ^ Kuhn, Katherine (2007-09-07). "So You Think You Can Rate a TV Show? - "The Hills"". Parents Television Council. Archived from the original on 2007-10-03. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  5. ^ a b MTV
  6. ^ a b Prato, Greg. "Jesus Christ Pose" review. Allmusic
  7. ^ a b Cave, Damien (February 23, 2004). "MTV Under Attack by FCC". Rolling Stone. 
  8. ^ Williams 2005, pp. 6, 8 The report mentioned that "nigga" was censored out of the videos "Freak-a-Leek" by Petey Pablo (p. 6) and "My Band" by D12. (p. 8).
  9. ^ Making the Band 2 Episode Summaries
  10. ^ MTV.com - think - Discrimination -> Racism
  11. ^ "Prodigy Video To Air On MTV As Controversy Continues". MTV News. 1997-12-04. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  12. ^ MTV Explains Decision To Pull Prodigy
  13. ^ "La Discothèque du 20è siècle", 1988, Polygram Direct, p. 14
  14. ^ The Tool Page: Prison Sex Video
  15. ^ The Tool page: Circus magazine, January, 1997
  16. ^ Rotter, Jeffrey (May 9, 2004). "Jay-Z Wants to Kill Himself". The New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2010. 
  17. ^ Serpick, Evan (November 5, 2002). "Play It Again". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 30, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Chuck D Speaks About MTV and Fighting the Power". September 27, 2002. Archived from the original on August 5, 2004. 
  19. ^ The Realms of Deth - Other Megadeth Music Videos
  20. ^ "Youtube Comments: The Faint". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  21. ^ McLernon, Matt (2003-03-31). "MTV hurts war effort with censorship". DailyOrange.com. The Daily Orange. Retrieved 2007-05-28. 
  22. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. ""Arise" - Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  23. ^ Prato, Greg. "Come Out and Play" review. Allmusic: 1999
  24. ^ Nuzum 2001, p. 95
  25. ^ Kulkarni, Dhananjay. Madonna - Controversies continued... Buzzle.com: May 14, 2004
  26. ^ Liu, Marian (2007-05-14). "Mistah F.A.B. walks the walk". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2007-05-26. MTV asked for edit after edit on the video, and eventually banned it. Columbia Pictures, which owns the "Ghostbusters" franchise, demanded the video be pulled because it still owned the rights to the likeness of the "Ghostbusters" car and logo, which were altered but used in the video. 
  27. ^ http://globalgrind.com/channel/music/content/1892215/censored-30-seconds-to-mars-quothurricanequotvideo/
  28. ^ The Realms of Deth - Megadeth Videography - Rusted Pieces
  29. ^ a b Chonin, Neva (2001-03-23). "Madonna's No 'Pussy Cat': MTV bans her latest video, again". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-05-26. "What It Feels Like For a Girl" was rejected for heavy rotation by MTV and its affiliate VH1. Too violent, they say. This, from a corporation that makes a mint off marketing gangsta culture to the suburban masses. 
  30. ^ Gundersen, Edna (2003-08-07). "Primus exerts 'Animal' magnetism". USA Today. 
  31. ^ http://www.chacha.com/question/why-was-blink%26%2345%3B182's-video-m%26m's-banned-from-mtv
  32. ^ The Realms of Deth - Other Megadeth Music Videos
  33. ^ Nuzum 2001, p. 92
  34. ^ Bitch Banned From MTV
  35. ^ M.I.A., No Loss For Words
  36. ^ MetalSucks – Suicide Silence, "The Price of Beauty"
  37. ^ http://www.knaclive.com/article.asp?ArticleID=7149
  38. ^ "Cardigan's Crash video banned". NME. September 8, 1998. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 

Further reading[edit]