How to Earn 2.5 Million YouTube Views

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Apparently I was not the only that wanted to question what is and is not allowed via the medium of video. To recap, check out my post from last week – Explict Sex Coming to a T.V. Near You. After thinking about my post last week, news of Justin Timberlake’s latest music video and the balance between online content and traditional FCC broadcast – I’ve decided the answers to the questions I posed last week may lie with Justin Timberlake’s recent music business decisions.

Justin Timberlake decided to test those indecency limits last week with the release of his third single “Tunnel Vision” and a super sexy video via YouTube. As of the writing of this post, the video has impressively collected over 2.5 million views in less than one week! Even more remarkable is that for a part of this week, it was not available for viewing. Almost as quickly as the video posted, YouTube removed the video due to the “explicit content” of scantily dressed/undressed women. The video was not down for long and reappeared with a new tag of “Explicit Content” and “NSFW” (Not Suitable For Workplace) around 24 hours later. In addition, prior to viewing a person’s age must be verified. If you are so inclined, you can watch the video here

So what made YouTube decide to reactivate the video for viewers? In a statement, a YouTube representative said “While our guidelines generally prohibit nudity, we make exceptions when it is presented in an educational, documentary or artistic context, and take care to add appropriate warnings and age restrictions,” via EOnline. YouTube felt Justin Timberlake’s video fell into this idea of artistic expression. And, at least according to YouTube, sometimes there is no better way to get your point across than by showing a set of boobs. But, just like the FCC, YouTube created for themselves a slippery slope. Who decides what is educational at YouTube? What is artistic? And, when is just showing sex for showing sex with no merit okay?

By Justin’s marketing decisions perhaps he stumbled upon the answer to who decides this balance and what alleviates the tension of indecency, broadcast and artistic expression. You only have to watch a short amount of the video to quickly realize, to quote my friend and fellow media lover @jennyrw, “it will never see air.” Perhaps YouTube is the answer to the FCC’s broadcast rules on indecency. If the FCC Daddy will not allow you to broadcast it, have no fear lenient YouTube Mom will give you a vehicle to get your FCC labeled explicit, but less than pornographic material, to the masses. A cleaned up version of your favorite programs can appear over broadcast, but if you want to see the unedited version you must watch via the YouTube vehicle or some yet to be created medium.

As of the writing of this post, the video has garnered over 2.5 million views in less than one week. What caused that amount of attention in less than a week? Was it the artist, the music, or the content of the video? I would argue it was a bit of all that and a lot of press attention around the ideas of indecency, freedom of expression and who ultimately decides. It also certainly doesn’t hurt that it is Justin Timberlake.

What do you think? Is the internet, specifically YouTube, a good place to find that balance between FCC regulations and racy content that would not be allowed via broadcast television? Take part in the conversation and Stay Tuned In!

You can follow me on Twitter @RyanneDSaucier

5 thoughts on “How to Earn 2.5 Million YouTube Views

  1. Athough it’s JT, I think it was mostly the content that spurred the # of views. But, it was probably JT’s popularity that helped YT to allow it on its site and label it as “art.” I would contrast JT’s video with the recent Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines” controversy. A few months ago, Robin posted the BL video on Youtube and it featured 3 topless women prancing and dancing around (very similar-JTjust added a little fog and dark lighting, lol). It hit 1 mil+ views in only a few days and was then banned by Youtube. The FCC friendly version currently on YT has 89 mil views (which I’m sure was spurred on by the controversy, lol.) When contrasting the two, it’s clearly a double-standard. Seems as if JT’s was labeled as art due to his popularity and RT’s was labeled as unseemly and pornographic due to his unfortunate lack of all around popularity. Of course, this song may change things for RT since it helped him hit #1 on the British pop charts & #1 on the Billboard charts.

    • Thanks for commenting, Natalie. Comparing those two videos is interesting. In fact, the Billboard article about the JT video references Robin Thicke’s and opined JT was trying to “one up” Robin. It does not seem fair that one was allowed while one was not. The example you gave shows the arbitrary nature of any rules. It’s a slippery slope.

  2. Pingback: Copyright Policy and YouTube | Statute of RyAnne

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