Nudity ban on YouTube? But what if it’s art?


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When it comes to enforcing its policy on artistic nudity, YouTube has been behaving lately like a helicopter parent with too many problem children on its hands.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, officially forbids users from posting videos to its site that feature sexually explicit content. It also forbids ‘most’ nudity -- that is to say, ‘if a video is intended to be sexually provocative, it is less likely to be acceptable for YouTube,’ according to the company’s rules. ‘There are exceptions for some educational, documentary and scientific content, but only if that is the sole purpose of the video and it is not gratuitously graphic.’


Apparently, a 37-year-old work by L.A. artist Susan Mogul did not make YouTube’s nudity standards. According to a blog post from L.A. Weekly, YouTube removed the video, titled ‘Dressing Up,’ from its site, saying that it was ‘disabled for violation of the YouTube Community Guideline.’

In the video, which was posted by L.A.’s Jancar Gallery, Mogul sits nude while discussing her frugal buying habits. At one point, she reveals her breasts and genitalia while putting on a brassiere and underwear. The L.A. Weekly report, which quotes gallery owner Tom Jancar, states that the video doesn’t use nudity in a sexual way.

Online artistic censorship is obviously difficult to enforce, so Culture Monster did a quick search of YouTube to see which artists and works of art have succeeded in evading the corporate nudie radar, among them Robert Mapplethorpe. Here are a few more that we found. (The hyperlinks will direct you to the actual video clips, which may not always be appropriate for younger viewers -- but that’s for you to decide!)

Marina Abramovic: The renowned performance artist is featured in numerous YouTube clips in various states of undress. In one clip, she is lying naked underneath a skeleton as part of an exhibition. The artist’s breasts are barely visible underneath her inanimate partner.

Spencer Tunick: The photographer is famous for his images of masses of naked people congregated in urban locations. Here’s a recent news report from Australia featuring Tunick’s shot of more than 5,000 nude models standing in front of the Sydney Opera House. You can clearly make out genitalia in the background of certain shots.

Michelangelo: Perhaps the most famous full-frontal nude in the history of art is Michelangelo’s statue David. As you may already suspect, there are numerous YouTube clips featuring the statue in all of its unclothed (and uncut) glory.


-- David Ng