Robin Thicke - "Blurred Lines" Video (Clean)

I have a half-cocked theory — backed up by no statistical evidence — about the social media value of “NSFW” music videos. Basically, my thinking is, anything tagged “NSFW” is automatically more enticing than anything not tagged “NSFW,” and it’s not like bands today have to worry about some gatekeeping cable networks’s standards & practices department shutting them down, so why not just make every video “NSFW”? Foals, for instance, have released four videos from their new album, Holy Fire; three of them have merited “NSFW” tags. It’s a savvy play! People love nudity!

Of course, my theory falls apart somewhat in the face of YouTube’s fairly stringent policies, which tend to frown upon such content. Per YouTube guidelines: “Most nudity is not allowed, particularly if it is in a sexual context. Generally if a video is intended to be sexually provocative, it is less likely to be acceptable for YouTube.”

It was thanks to those rules that Robin Thicke’s explicit “Blurred Lines” video got booted from YouTube in March. A “clean” version took its place; it currently has 82,371,151 views. The NSFW version can still be viewed on VEVO.

However, Justin Timberlake’s “Tunnel Vision” video — which, as Claire noted, has a whole lot in common with Thicke’s clip — has somehow skirted YouTube’s guidelines. There’s no clear reason why one should be censored while the other is not. Still, when approached by ABC News, YouTube spokespeople explained the decision with the following (vague) statement:

While our Guidelines generally prohibit nudity, we make exceptions when it is presented in an educational, documentary or artistic context, and take care to add appropriate warnings and age-restrictions.

The line between “sexual” and “artistic” contexts seems impossible to define, as Potter Stewart knew all too well, but no matter how it’s delineated, the suggestion that the “Blurred Lines” and “Tunnel Vision” clips belong on different sides of that line seems pretty dubious.

Comments (22)
  1. It’s funny that “NSFW” caught on the way it did. Who are all these people who sit around their offices all day watching YouTube videos and more importantly, are these companies hiring?

  2. Blogging 101: When you embed links in your post, set them to open in new tabs. The user doesn’t want to click on something in the middle of an article and be taken away to another site.

  3. The Timberlake video at least attempts to be artistic in its portrayals, via lighting cues, projections, shadow, etc. The Thicke video is kind of just like, “Hey, look! Tits and ass!”

    • my thoughts while watching Thicke video: “Hey, look! Tits and ass!”
      my thoughts while watching Timberlake video: “Hey, look! Tits and ass!”

    • In terms of capturing the feel of the song, Blurred Lines is one of the more effective music videos I’ve seen recently. Ultimately Blurred Lines is a fun song, and I’ll be damned if those girls with the “Tits and ass!” aren’t having a lot of fun.

    • I completely agree. I also think the song backing the video has a lot to do with the sexual perception. I think “Blurred Lines” is much more sexual in nature, nudity or no.

      Having said that, it still is a bit strange that Timberlake’s video would be allowed. I do find it more artistic, but it’s still very much NSFW.

  4. this is especially fucked up given that the video for hood by perfume genius was banned from YouTube. that just had some dudes in underwear. the innuendo wasn’t even extreme

  5. I guess you could say the lines between porn and art are becoming blurred

  6. Might be a dumb point, but do you think JT paid YouTube more money for them to keep it on there? Does it work that way? Probably not…

    • I thought the same thing, but I don’t think that Youtube needs the money and I don’t think that it’s entirely necessary for JT to have the video on youtube. He gets plenty on top of plenty of publicity.

  7. Oh well. More boobs for me.

  8. Here’s a random observation. 99% of stereogum’s commenters are male.

  9. To me, the only real difference between the two is that JT’s video takes itself much more seriously, everything about Blurred Lines is much more in your face. The lighting is flat (and very bright), the nudity is nearly nonstop, and feels a bit like nudity for nudity’s sake. I would make the argument that the content of the song and this approach compliment each other artistically, but it also makes for an easier target. Other than that, I’d say writing off all nudity in music videos or other modern forms of artistic expression as exploitation (the mocking picture of Kate Winslet from Titanic comes to mind) is extraordinarily glib.

  10. Only in America is this even an issue.

  11. these videos have almost nothing in common other than the genre and the boobs…

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  13. Youtube:: this is Kobidobidog. . I cannot receive any Emails to my channel. The heplp page has somehow been disabled

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