In recent years, society has become more and more open to the past transgressions of people and brands. Naturally, much of this involves re-evaluating and berating taboo imagery in entertainment.
Among the main culprits of such objectionable material are rock and metal music videos. Simply put, they have often portrayed various acts of debauchery (whether sexual, violent, blasphemous, and / or otherwise) that probably could not be approved in our modern cultural climate. Yes, we’re looking at you, Crue and a number of others as well. After all, rockers are rebels who – for better or for worse – tend to ignore the rules anyway, so they’re going to do whatever they are going to do, regardless of how society reacts.
Consider the following 10 examples, which – if they were created now – would surely have their creators undone due to their obnoxious content (even though this provocation is essential to their sharp social commentary).
“Girls Girls Girls” (1987)
The title track and lead single from Mötley Crüe’s fourth album, the song itself could still be enjoyed as a raw but fun ’80s rocker on the strip clubs.
On the flip side, the visualized version of Wayne Isham (shot at Seventh Veil on the Sunset Strip) would almost certainly be berated for his insistence on scantily clad dancers who are eyeed by overbearing bikers and other men.
Of course, you could say that this promotes the appropriation by artists of their sexuality, but that would be a bit of a stretch. Truly, it’s just a shady celebration of the male gaze that has bowled many viewers today.
“Drowning in the city” (2008)
A skylit reader
Post-hardcore A Skylit Drive wasted no time in creating a provocative film, as it came from their first collection, the 2007s. She looked at the sky EP.
It features footage of a heterosexual couple having sex on a pool table at a party. The woman later sees the man chatting with other women and tries to make a scene, only to be aggressively forced by two other guys. She then tears up her room, thinking about her betrayal.
While he’s relatively tame, his allusions to sex, violence against women, and struggles with mental health are alarming enough.
“If you think this song is about you, it probably is” (2010)
Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows only made one album – the 2011 one MEDICATIONS – and it may have been for the best given how free this abrasive one is.
It opens with a rude questioning suggesting the singer considering suicide with “a noose and a chair”. Then there are persistent flashes of empty pill bottles and a naked woman verbally and physically assaulted by said singer. In the end, it is implied that he killed her and buried her on a deserted road.
Obviously, it’s full of illustrations of misogyny, drug use, self-harm, and murder that greatly defy modern sensibilities.
“The show must continue” (2013)
Famous last words
2013 Two-faced charade is a concept album about a schizophrenic stranger who falls in love with his neighbor, finds out she has a boyfriend, and kills the couple before cutting his wrists.
Unsurprisingly, frontman Jeremy Tollas’ video for the two-part closing piece isn’t afraid of tragedy. Playing the role of his disgruntled protagonist, he binds and yells at the woman while literally arguing with himself.
Eventually, she escapes but is soon captured and suffocated to death before Tollas shoves a shard of the mirror in her stomach.
Eight years later, viewers would absolutely disagree with its offensive implications.
“Control Y” (2004)
Yeah yeah yeah
It’s an unwritten rule in entertainment that you don’t glorify dead animals or children (there’s even a website to catalog movies and TV shows that do). Obviously, famous director Spike Jonze didn’t know, as his music video for “Y Control” depicts numerous deviant children mistreating a dead dog while the group is performing.
Probably inspired by Stephen King The children of the corn, the young people also brandish weapons, turn off the camera, destroy property, kill themselves and engage in other sinister acts.
At the time, MTV preempted a censored version with a warning from Jonze. Today it couldn’t be shown at all.
“The pose of Jesus Christ” (1991)
Soundgarden’s “Jesus Christ Pose” video – which shows a woman crucified in the wilderness, a cross on fire and the band stretching out their arms messianically, among various other disturbing footage – was so controversial upon its release that MTV stopped play it.
The fact that the track and the video were supposed because the reviews of “celebrities and rock stars who had attracted this kind of vulnerable and suffering pose and / or attitude to their fan base” didn’t matter. Regardless of context or intent, the video was deemed too unfit for consumption.
Three decades later, the public has become even more sensitive to a subject seemingly sacrilegious.
Directed by Mark Pellington, it was hugely popular at the time, eventually winner four MTV Video Music Awards in 1993.
Of course, he deserved nothing less because his disturbing but poetic (and partially non-fiction) The chronicle of an abused teenager who committed suicide in front of his classroom was a heart-wrenching and prophetic warning.
Sadly, equally extreme incidents have become all too common in America since the release of “Jeremy,” making the video too disturbing and divisive for 2021.
In particular, the The new “uncensored” version of the Pearl Jam music video actually reveals Jeremy putting the gun in his mouth, so it’s particularly triggering and polarizing.
“Heart Shaped Box” (1993)
Nirvana’s ‘heart-shaped box’ is as surreal as it is scandalous, featuring a disturbing and shocking fever dream conceived by Kurt Cobain and filmmaker Anton Corbijn.
He follows a dying man in a hospital bed who enters his subconscious and crucifies himself wearing a Santa hat. Along the way, there is also a young girl conspicuously dressed in a Ku Klux Klan uniform who dances around him as she seeks to hang fetuses from a tree.
Like “Jeremy,” he’s been widely praised by critics over the years, but that doesn’t mean clearly Puritan or religious onlookers wouldn’t try to rebuke everyone involved.
Nine inch nails
From the album Nine Inch Nails 1994 The downward spiral, Mark Romanek’s macabrously abstract visual interpretation is a fascinating, inventive and daring journey that is also endlessly incendiary.
Among his problematic depictions are a frightened monkey attached to a cross, a beating heart, cockroaches rushing, a graphic diagram of a vagina, a severed pig’s head rotating clockwise, a woman naked and frontman Trent Reznor wearing various bondage accessories.
Admittedly, all of this is not so insidious, but the video nonetheless creates a cumulatively unpleasant environment – both in terms of is shown and what is just implied – that would put Reznor and his company in hot water now.
“Bad Girlfriend” (2008)
The dead man theory
Colin Minihan’s racy adaptation of “Bad Girlfriend” is like an even more archaic successor to Mötley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls”.
It centers on an exotic dancer who hides what she’s doing by telling her boyfriend that she works in a hospital. One night, he unknowingly goes to his club with friends and parties with other employees before seeing his partner play.
Incredibly, she’s not mad at him because he’s a bad boyfriend; instead, she invites him on stage and rewards his behavior, thus promoting outdated cases of female sexualization and at least some gender double standards.