WATCH: The Perfume Genius Clip That Got Banned By YouTube For “Adult Content”

Part of the nature of YouTube’s DIY infrastructure is that it often relies on viewers to flag material as inappropriate. That’s great if someone is posting nude videos of their unsuspecting neighbor, but not so great when homophobes use it to block totally non-obscene material they don’t like.

That’s what we imagine has happened with the 15-second ad for Perfume Genius‘ new album, Put Your Back N 2 It (above, and totally SFW), coming out on February 20. In the clip, out singer Mike Hadreas is cradled by a hunky, hairy he-man.

Nils Bernstein of Matador Records emailed to tell us the teaser clip had been rejected by YouTube and the label received the following message:

The ad has been disapproved because it violates our Adult Image/Video Content policy. 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… 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.

As Bernstein rightly points out, “I can’t imagine that a ‘straight’ version of this ad wouldn’t pass.  Our entire office (90% straight, for what it’s worth) was genuinely surprised by this one. Especially given their impassioned pleas last week about free speech and anti-Internet-censorship.”

Could it YouTube be skittish because Mike’s co-star in the benign clip is none other than (a non-nude) porn star Arpad Miklos? Bernstein said Matator asked for clarification from the site twice but has gotten no response.

If you’re intrigued by the tune in the clip, “All Waters,” listen to it here —and check out Perfume Genius’ video for “Hood” below. Miklos makes an appearance there as well.

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  • Triple S

    A slightly odd ad, but certainly nothing anti-family. Notice how many things that have the word “family” in them tend to be completely against anything gay? Not all, I know, but many.

  • jason

    YouTube is a homophobic organization run by liberals.

  • Kylew

    There IS a right of appeal on youtube. I wonder if it has been pursued, or if the band has taken this initial knock-back and used to generate publicity?

  • Mike in Asheville

    @jason: Well at least you didn’t write: “In fact, YouTube….”


    For those of us who grew up with the only airing of something gay was Liberace and Paul Lynn (loved him), neither ever appearing in anything gayish, we are just pleased to see that gay culture is being aired, changing the minds for acceptance of our rights for us. Sure YouTube has much growing up to do, but this wasn’t even a viable media a decade ago. They will change, as everything does, and as has happened over the past 40 years, we keep gaining in achieving our right to ourselves.

  • chris

    Did Queerty contact Youtube for comment/explanation, or is that sort of reporting asking too much?

  • Mike Hipp

    It’s really very simple. Here’s a test to see if your YouTube video is ‘family safe’ – dear gay friend.

    Does it titillate you, even in the very slightest? Does it make you feel respected or understood as a member of the LGBT community? Does it portray a gay person as a person who has a sexuality?

    If you answered yes to any of these questions; your video is not appropriately ‘family safe’.

    The reason is that they can’t afford to treat you like a real person and … though they hate to admit it…. it titillates them to and that’s never going to fly.

  • pulloutman

    that was lame

  • Jonathonz

    Call Google at 650 253 0000 and let them know this is wrong.

  • Nils

    Hi – I just wanted to clarify that this isn’t a user-uploaded video, but rather what is called a “pre-roll” ad, i.e. the annoying ads that companies pay YouTube to run before videos you want to see. These go through a different approval process than regular user-uploaded videos, since they’re seen by people that don’t choose to click on them; this ad can’t be flagged by viewers, nor is there an appeals process beyond the initial attempt to pay YouTube to run it. The music video that the imagery in this ad comes from is on YouTube without incident, and not flagged as ‘adult’. But it’s unfortunate that such innocent imagery is viewed as somehow ‘dangerous’ or ‘promoting mature sexual themes’ to unsuspecting viewers more than an identical straight ad would be (not to mention other ads I’m been subjected to with sexual, violent, or extreme political and religious content). -Nils/Matador

  • lizcivious

    I saw the entire Perfume Genius video before the uproar and thought it was very poignant, not at all “family-unfriendly.” To a more naive eye, it would appear, perhaps, odd or weird, but there’s nothing vaguely obscene in it and the music is haunting. I had no idea that was a porn actor in it and I don’t care. Now, if I were a parent, I would not want my young child seeing that horrible Nelly video under any circumstances, and there it is, for all to view. I wouldn’t mind my child seeing a nude or partially nude female body in an artistic scenario, but certainly not in a video where the women are degrading themselves and being degraded by males. Yet those kinds of scenes are everywhere in the media.

  • Nils

    Also want to point out that they said, “in order to have this video ad approved, you will need to bring it into compliance with our policy” but when we asked (twice) exactly what edits were required to bring it into compliance, we got no response, which to me points to a cowardly sort of homophobia (we’re trying to PAY them to run this, after all!). Thanks, Nils/Matador

  • Kylew

    @Nils: Is there a clear policy document available that can be studied?

  • lohen

    makes me want to go report videos of girls dancing and toddlers and tiaras clips.

  • jason

    Ravish my apple breast with your big mouth, Arpad. Arpad, Arpad, Arpad…give me your muscle arms and musky armpit smells.

  • Ken

    This video was compelling and not at all sexual. The artist is striking a cord that makes some uncomfortable and therefore it is great art. Great art throughout history has been quashed and banished but it is still great art. Cencorship sucks and anyone who participates in censorship has an overinflated ego. The same type that starts warfare, lovely ni?

  • tink

    How ridiculous. I have seen really soft porn stuff all over youtube, which on viewing i didn’t realise youtube showed such things. so to alarmingly see this was banned makes me just wonder wtf justifys other videos still being up O_O

  • Juston

    This clearly shows the problems facing YouTube as they try to grow into a platform for brand advertisers. They want money from brands that spend millions on NASCAR and MarthaStewart.com. The problem is that those brands don’t want to risk having their ads show up alongside “objectionable” material.

    Personally, I think they should just do the right thing and post videos like this. I’m also pretty sure they’ll reverse this decision — it was probably made by an intern and does not reflect the company’s values.

    I wrote a slightly more nuanced version of this here: http://bit.ly/wY9zgk

  • Kylew

    @Juston: I disagree, and i’ll be surprised if they do reverse this. Advert placement on youtube seems absolutely arbitrary, and the number of channels/videos to which an advert featuring two gay guys smooching could be attached without the risk of offence is far fewer than the number to which it could be attached. The fact that the characters are both in their underwear makes a clear suggestion about what is about to happen. I absolutely undestand why, from a business perspective, they do not allow this ad. They are not there to fight our moral battles. I suspect this ad would not be permitted before the watershed on mainstream TV, and as youtube has no watershed, it is hardly surprising that they decline to carry it.

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