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Sexuality in music videos has become more wide-spread since the 1980s. Because of its commercial function, music videos must attract the audience's attention and convey a message quickly inside a truncated storyline. The sexuality provides a means of both attracting attention and conveying a message quickly.

According to social learning theory, in order for a mediated model to have a legitimate chance at gaining the attention of a potential attendee, that model and its media-form must be salient, striking, conspicuous, and/or prominent. Generally, the premise that music videos yield harmful effects has not been supported by research. The assumption that the harm would be sex-specific (e.g., women's self-concepts will be negatively affected) has been also invalidated.


The nature of sexual activity in music videos has evolved over time in more or less the same way that cable and network television. A sample of sixty-two videos from 1984 showed, that 60% included "some portrayal of sexual feelings or impulses". The sexiest videos of that year included "Legs" by ZZ Top and "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John.

In 1990 suggestive sexual activity like pelvic thrusts, long lip licking or stroking, was present in 89% of MTV videos. The 1996 research showed, that the hip-hop and R&B were greatest in the sexual variables. In further analysis videos that mixed hip-hop and R&B displayed sexual content the most frequently, followed by hip-hop itself and R&B itself. Country videos depicted sexual content the least often of the seven genre categories picked, followed by rock videos. However country musicians such as Shania Twain and Faith Hill garnered substantial crossover success in pop after sexualizing their images ("You Win My Love" and "This Kiss" respectively). The diverse content may occur within the one video, like in Faith Hill's "The Way You Love Me", where she portrayed a waitress, a dominatrix and a nurse.

The 1997 study documented frequent instances of simulated intercourse, oral sex, masturbation and sexual dancing in hip-hop videos. Snoop Dogg and Hustlaz had the top selling adult videos in 2001 and 2003 respectively, as well as 50 Cent, Lil' Jon and Ice T. As the hip-hop culture emphasizes the heterosexuality, the lesbians have been generally co-opted into the male fantasy of a ménage à trois on the order of Ludacris's "Splash Waterfalls", where female sexual arousal and coupling is arbitrated electronically by a virile male presence (particularly, Ludacris on computer screen).

Nelly's video "Tip Drill" became prominent by featuring women of various shades in thong bikinis or just thongs and topless. In addition to slapping of each other's butts or having them slapped by men as they gyrate close to men's faces, the women are simulating oral, vaginal and anal sex both with men and one another. The Rammstein video for Pussy contains unsimulated acts of sex.


Shortly after the debut of MTV, it forced the English group Duran Duran to edit their 1981 video for "Girls on Film", which originally featured topless women mud wrestling. Madonna oversaw several of her videos banned from MTV and VH1, most notably "Justify My Love".

In 1993, the video for "Soon" by Tanya Tucker was banned from daytime airings on both The Nashville Network(TNN) and Country Music Television(CMT) because of scenes in which Tucker is in bed with her lover along with a "nip slip" that was cut from the video. It was also flagged as inappropriate for graphic sexual activity on You Tube and age verification is required in order for it to be viewed .

Later another network,Black Entertainment Television (BET) refused to play the 2005 video "Naked" by Marques Houston. In the same year a VH1-sponsored documentary Hip-Hop Videos and Sexploitation on the Set was released. On August 2, 2006 the Indianmarker Information and Broadcasting Ministry issued a notification which required all music videos a censor certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) before airplay. This was preceded by debate over so-called 'remix videos' - cover versions of popular Bollywood songs featuring scantily clad girls. Particularly, the CBFC gave its "A" certificate to Paris Hilton's "Stars Are Blind".

See also


  1. Gad Saad. The evolutionary bases of consumption, Routledge, 2007, p. 196
  2. Tom Reichert, Jacqueline Lambiase. Sex in consumer culture: the erotic content of media and marketing, Routledge, 2006, p. 32-33
  3. Patrick E. Jamieson, Daniel Romer. The Changing Portrayal of Adolescents in the Media Since 1950, Oxford University Press US, 2008, p. 323
  4. Sommers-Flanagan & Davis, 1993
  5. An Examination Of Sexual Content In Music Videos Jacob S. Turner
  6. Reichert, Lambiase, p. 42
  7. Ann C. Hall, Mardia J. Bishop. Pop-porn: pornography in American culture, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007, p. 8
  8. Amber, "Dirty Dancing"
  9. Vibe, № 2, 2008
  10. My Kind of CountryAlbum Review: Tanya Tucker- 'Soon'
  11. Billboard, 2006, № 35, p. 20

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