The power to ignore Internet content that one might find offensive is a crucial outlet that all viewers rightfully share. However, when the line between socially offensive material and personal viewpoints are blurred, that right becomes compromised.
This is the exact situation that YouTube is currently battling with Seattle based indie performer Perfume Genius. A an ad his his new album, Put Your Back N 2 It, was promptly removed from YouTube, which cited violation of their Adult Image/Video Policy. However, there is little in the 15-second promo to raise uproar about. The clip features two men embracing in a tasteful and even subdued manner. It’s a clip that if it starred a man and a woman wouldn’t have been given a second glance.
According to YouTube, “Per this policy, video content, audio, static imagery, and site content must be family safe. Any ads that contain non-family safe material are disapproved. I noted to the team that the people in the video are not entirely unclothed, but the overall feeling of the video is one of a more adult nature, including promoting mature sexual themes and what appears to be nude content. As such, the video is non-family safe. In order to have this video ad approved, you will need to bring it into compliance with our policy."
Ironically, the song in the ad, "All Waters," is about internalized homophobia—how Mike Hadreas (Perfume Genius) notices straight couples being affectionate on the street, and how it must feel for them to not have to think about it. By banning this ad there is a blatant disregard for allowing gay couples openly express affection on such a public platform for video content.
It’s also hard to imagine if the same principals used against the “All Waters” promo were applied to many other videos that are currently on YouTube. The site hosts ad campaigns and music videos full of provocative imagery from pop stars, however many of theses, at times, harshly gratuitous videos continue to remain available online.
Hopefully the site will reconsider its removal of the ad and improve their ability to distinguish inappropriate material from complete sexual discrimination. Watch the banned ad below: