Katy Perry has nothing on some of these contraversial music videos.
Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ video has been making the headlines after causing so much offence an online petition was set up to have it banned. Perry’s video was accused of blasphemy and the singer has since removed the offensive scene. Of course ‘Dark Horse’ is not the first music video to incur controversy, nor is it even the worst when you consider its predecessors.
Katy Perry's contraversy isn't much compared to some of these.
Madonna ‘Like A Prayer’
Anything that could be construed as even slightly blasphemous is a sure fire way to make your video controversial and Madonna has always known this. This one probably wont seem controversial at all considering the current climate but back in 1989, Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’ video was so controversial it caused her to be dropped from her Pepsi endorsement. The video featured many images which some deemed ‘blasphemous’ including a burring cross, a stigmata reference, oh and Madonna’s seduction of a saint. The ensuing controversy, however, gave Madonna a lot of attention and record sales, causing her album to go straight to the top of the charts.
Nirvana ‘Heart Shaped Box’
Following Madonna’s example, though probably not intentionally, Nirvana’s ‘Heart Shaped Box’ video featured a little girl in a Ku Klux Klan outfit and an old man hanging himself on a cross whilst wearing a Santa hat. There’s also some foetus’s thrown in for good measure. Despite some objecting to the video, it went on to win MTV Video Music Award in 1994 for Best Alternative Video.
George Michael 'I Want Your Sex’
If you're not comfortable with potentially upsetting religious groups you can also turn to the age old theme of sex to raise some eyebrows. George Michael’s 1987 video for ‘I Want Your Sex’, featured George and his then girlfriend, make-up artist Kathy Jeung. George claimed the video was about their monogamous relationship but many thought the nudity and blindfolds made it just a little bit too explicit. You’ve got to wonder thought, what did people expect from a song with that title.
Bjork ‘Pagan Poetry’
Bjork took George Michael’s lead and pushed the boundaries of the sexually explicit music video even further with ‘Pagan Poetry’ in 2001. Although blurry, the video featured sexual acts being depicted as well as Bjork sporting some rather painful looking piercings. This one is not for the easily squeamish.
No Doubt showed some cultural insensitivity with their 'Looking Hot' video
No Doubt ‘Looking Hot’
As Katy Perry often forgets, seemingly parodying another culture is something that's bound to upset people. No Doubt learnt this the hard way when they were forced to ban the 2012 ‘Looking Hot’ video themselves, after they faced backlash over its Native American references. Many found the video to be 'blatantly racist' due to its ‘cowboys and Indians’ theme. The band later released a statement describing themselves as a multi racial band who'd never intended to hurt or offend, but you’ve really got to wonder what the band were thinking when they made this one.
MIA ‘Born Free’
Sometimes artists use the music video mediun to make a serious political message, as in the case of M.I.A. The graphically violent 9 minute video for ‘Born Free’ featured red headed adolescents been rounded up and executed. The video explored the themes of political repression and genocide and was generally praised by critics, however Youtube removed the video from its site within a day of its posting.
Pear Jam ‘Jeremy'
Another video which came under fire for its violence but contained an underlying message was Pearl Jam’s ‘Jeremy’. The video depicted a young boy who was bullied by his classmates and ignored by his parents. In the clip’s climax he is seen walking into his classroom with a gun before the students are shown sitting in class still and spattered in blood, however the original video also featured ‘Jeremy’ putting the gun in his mouth at the ending. The video won awards at the time of its release but ended up being removed from MTV rotation after the 1998 Columbine high school shooting.
The Prodigy's Liam Howlett
The Prodigy ‘Smack my Bitch Up’
As we’ve shown sex and violence are good ways to ensure a controversial video, however if you manage to blend the two and throw in some drug use you’ll get one of the most notorious videos of all time. The video is shot in as the point of view of an initially unseen character who goes on a night of drinking, drug use and sex before we get the big reveal in the end (its a woman). The video initially had a complete ban by MTV, but the network eventually gave in and aired the video very much after hours. Wether you found the video misogynist or thought it depicted another side of domestic violence we can all agree at least that this is one of the most controversial videos of all time.
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