June 2011

A Monster Success

It's official folks, and you heard it here first: MTV and VH1 will not air Kanye West's "Monster" video. Jeannie Kedas of MTV Networks, which also controls VH1, has recently confirmed that neither channel "has plans to air the video." Kedas cited MTV's voluntary standards department as a guiding force in their choice, but you can bet that our collective online movement against the official release of "Monster" also had something to do with MTV's principled decision.

When I first watched the leaked clips of "Monster" I was so infuriated and disturbed that I couldn't just say, "That's an incredibly offensive and misogynistic music video. Wow, artists are really pushing the limits, aren't they?" and get on with my day. In the past, there have been countless media messages that have riled me up, but never have I been so affected than after watching those unofficial clips for the first time. My stomach turned as I took in images of nearly naked dead women hanging from chains, a contorted dead woman splayed on a couch wearing nothing but red stilettos, and two dead woman propped up in bed being maneuvered like playthings by Kanye himself. Oh yeah, don’t forget Kanye gripping the hair of a woman's severed head. I couldn't just sit by and tweet how P O'ed I was. I'm so glad I didn't.

In January, I paired up with author and activist Melinda Tankard Reist to create a petition targeted at MTV and Universal Music Group (UMG) to prevent the mass release of these misogynistic images being touted as art. With the support of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia, Collective Shout, Amanda Kloer of Change.org, Samer Rabadi of the Petition Site by Care2.com, and my colleague, co-editor/founder of Adios Barbie Pia Guerrero, we circulated two petitions, where we were met with your overwhelming support of over 21,000 signatures. In late February, as the number of signatures continued to climb, I communicated with Kedas who informed me that the network "would not air the current version," a success that we shared on our Facebook page. MTV followed up shortly thereafter to clear away rumors of a "Monster" ban. They posted this statement on their website:

"The video was submitted to MTV, but it wasn’t banned; rather, edits were requested based on the channel’s decency standards.

MTV has not banned Kanye West’s ‘Monster’ video,” the network said in a statement to MTV News. “We have been in constant communication with the label regarding this matter. However, we are still awaiting the edits we requested in order for the video to be suitable for broadcast."

So, we waited and continued to speak out against the use of eroticized violence as mainstream viewing. On June 5th, the official release of the long-awaited version of "Monster" appeared online. The only thing that was strikingly different from the leaked clips was the disclaimer at the beginning of the video: "The following content is in no way to be interpreted as misogynistic or negative towards any groups of people. It is an art piece and shall be taken as such." It might as well have read: "Warning: The following content may cause physical and emotional upset such as nausea and seething anger" because the final cut...

Read the full story at Adios Barbie.

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