Kanye West can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to his recent music videos. First, “All of the Lights” was under fire from an epilepsy awareness group who said that the video—with many quick flashes and flickering lights—could put some viewers at risk. The video was briefly taken down from YouTube and other hosting sites before reappearing with a warning message at the beginning. Now, just a few weeks later, another single from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy has been embroiled in controversy.
Over the weekend, MTV announced that they had banned Yeezy’s “Monster” video after it was taken to task by activists Sharon Haywood and Melinda Tankard Reist. The two spearheaded a petition urging MTV and Universal Music Group to not play the video, backed by 1600 signatures on Change.org. “The mainstreaming of videos like this increases desensitized and callous attitudes toward violence against women,” said Reist. “Young people are seeing images and absorbing harmful messages which glamorise misogyny and brutalise women. Women are reduced to sex-doll like playthings. So great is the level of desensitization that the barbaric treatment of women and girls is seen as normal and to be expected. We decided to run this campaign because we wanted to challenge the status quo.” MTV has agreed to not air the video in it’s current form, though UMG has yet to respond.
This is not the first time (nor do we expect it to be the last) that a rap video has been banned after coming under fire by one or more groups. With issues ranging from political themes to hyper-sexualized images at the center of the controversy, here are five of the most memorable banned videos through the years.