MTV has gotten some flack for censorship over the course of its 30 years on the air. The station, in addition to helping proliferate the music video concept, is equally known, it seems, for bleeping words, playing only censored versions of certain videos, relegating racy videos to late-night play only and, on occasion, banning videos entirely.
This practice was more prevalent in the station's '80s and '90s heyday; nowadays, artists are happy to produce alternative versions of their videos to get some much-needed airplay.
Back in the day, though, getting banned by MTV was something of a badge of honor: The media, predictably, would have a field day whenever such censorship was announced.
These days, most music video consumption happens via the Internet, and MTV's content is mostly made up of bottom-barrel reality programming. So it's easy to forget that some really awesome music moments happened courtesy of the hubbub surrounding MTV censorship.
Thus, we've collected the top 10 music videos banned on MTV. Click on the jump, and shield your eyes if you're sensitive. Although some of these videos are over 20 years old, they're still not safe for the kiddies.
10. Soundgarden, "Jesus Christ Pose."
The video for the first single offBadmotorfinger
(1991) shows a bunch of stuff (girls, skeletons, vegetables) nailed to crosses. Entry No. 1 in the list of surefire ways to get your video banned? Put stuff on crosses. Best supporting actor nomination? Chris Cornell's abs.
9. Tool, "Prison Sex."
Gee. Why ever would a song with a name like "Prison Sex" get banned? But seriously, folks: Even when acted out by puppets, molestation is a topic with major squick factor. This was Tool's first single off their debut album, and the stop-motion animation in this video set the precedent for many more stop-motion Tool videos. Despite the ban, the video was nominated for an MTV Video Award for best special effects.
8. Megadeth, "In My Darkest Hour."
MTV banned this one because they thought the lyrics referred to suicide. In fact, Dave Mustaine wrote this song upon former bandmate Cliff Burton's untimely passing. The video itself is a bunch of live clips; it was featured inDecline of Western Civilization II
, and the song is a regular feature of Megadeth's live shows. Best supporting actor nomination goes to Mustaine's luscious locks.
7. MIA, "Sunshowers."
The video itself isn't offensive; MTV banned it when MIA refused to release a censored version of the lyrics, which allude to sociopolitical tensions in Sri Lanka. Specifically, the line "Like PLO, I don't surrendo" ticked off the censors at MTV. MIA's been known to prickle when the censors do their thing; she reportedly wasn't too happy when MTV censored the gunshots in her hit "Paper Planes," either.
6. Lady Gaga, "Alejandro."
This video wasn't completely banned; it was just relegated to the midnight hours on one of MTV's endless sister channels that actually play videos. The fact that MTV proper doesn't really play videos renders the video's "banned" status basically moot. This one got the censors all fired up, though, because of the usual reasons: bondage, simulated sex, religious imagery, dudes in vinyl Nazi outfits, Gaga in a vinyl nun outfit. We've been through this before, right?
5. Marilyn Manson, "Coma White."
Remember when ol' Marilyn strapped on a set of fake boobs and struck fear into the hearts of parents everywhere? Those were the good old days, indeed! Banned because of the scene where Marilyn gets shot in a car JFK-style (check out Rose McGowan in Jackie O getup) and is then paraded through the streets on a cross while singing about drugs. Best supporting actor nomination: Twiggy Ramirez's stripy tights. The '90s were truly a more innocent time, when a 35-year-old man in stripy tights was considered threatening and spooky.
4. Skid Row, "18 and Life."
Skid Row's self-titled album is one of the most underrated albums of the '80s, and this is one of that album's best tracks. The video is pretty corny. But it got banned because of the violent subject matter (the mulleted protagonist accidentally shoots his friend). Best supporting actor nomination goes to Rachel Bolan's nose-ring-to-earring chain. We want to know if he ever snagged anything on it.
3. Nine Inch Nails, "Closer."
This gross-out fest (bugs, butchered animal parts) was pretty groundbreaking for its time. This video clearly got banned because of the naked ladies in bondage masks, which is a shame, as Trent Reznor is cuter than a pile of puppies in it. Fun fact: Rhe guy who directed this video also directed Jay-Z's "99 Problems."
2. Prodigy, "Smack My Bitch Up."
In which our epically unlovable protagonist goes to a club, gets schwasted, does a bunch of really unadvisable stuff (like getting into fights and assaulting women) and then, at the end, turns out to be a girl. Which, of course, doesn't excuse her behavior. One of the most cringe-tastic videos of all time, for sure.
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1. Madonna, "Justify My Love."
Madge's black-and-white hotel room shenanigans may have been shocking enough to get her banned, but we can't watch this video without giggling and thinking of the "Wayne's World" version. Sorry, nameless backup dancer, but Garth totally owns the leotard-and-spiky-gloves look. Schwing!