NSFW by Amanda Penlington

Controversial music videos are nothing new. It’s easy to be cynical about explicit content, seeing its inclusion as a deliberate ploy to achieve notoriety and boost music sales. But some Indie music videos deemed ‘Not Safe For Work’ (NSFW) provide a positive alternative to the stereotypical representations of sexuality found in mainstream pop and R’n’B videos.

The ‘NSFW’ tag is a marker of the digital age (initially applied to internet pornography), reflecting that many music videos are now most likely to be accessed online. Of course videos for mainstream chart artists are still to be found on TV, but away from the internet there are very few opportunities to see Indie music videos like this one by Yuck (directed by Michael and Forest).

Yuck: ‘Shook Down’

Yuck’s ‘Shook Down’ video was labelled as NSFW on its release but its content could not really be considered offensive. It does contain nudity but within the context of a Garden of Eden narrative. The naked bodies are composed of photo-montages of varying body-types. It is a beautifully-created video that shows nothing different to what might be viewed in a Renaissance painting.

For their ‘All In White’ video The Vaccines channeled the early surrealist films of Luis Buñuel.

The Vaccines: ‘All In White’

This video (directed by CANADA) contains partial-nudity, sexual and cabalistic images. It is more suggestive than explicit, with the sexual imagery focusing on representing the pleasure on the face of the woman (who is only shown naked from the waist up). It contains nothing more than what you might see on TV at around 9pm, but on its release one music site deemed it NSFW, stating it contained ‘Female Nudity, Horse Riding’.

Whilst it contains both of these things separately, the salacious headline aimed at titillating the imagination, rather than reflecting the dream-like representations of emotions evidenced in the band’s arty video.

Probably the most controversial recent Indie video is ‘Lust For Life’ by Girls (directed by Focus Creeps). It contains nudity and was deemed ‘XXX’ rated on its release by various websites.

Girls: Lust For Life

What interests me about the Girls video is that is was referred to as ‘hardcore’ on its release, yet it does not contain explicit images of sexual activity. It does, however, show a man using his friend’s penis as a simulated microphone. I would suggest that this playful image and the spectrum of sexualities represented (the homosexual couple, a lesbian couple, a lone woman) challenge the familiar heterosexual narratives of mainstream videos.

This would not be screened in the televisual age of music videos but it has a home here on the internet. The internet has enabled bands and their video directors freedom of experimentation in terms of controversial content.

Indie bands are embracing that freedom, not to depict nudity or sex for titillation purposes but to present body- and sex-positive images that challenge the misogynistic and homophobic stereotypes that can sometimes be found in those mainstream pop and R’n’B videos which still appear on our TV screens.

Editor of Flush the Fashion and Flush Magazine. I love music, art, film, travel, food, tech and cars. Basically everything this site is about. You can follow me on Twitter HERE or on Instagram HERE

Be first to comment