10 Rock + Metal Music Videos That Couldn’t Be Made Today

In recent years, society has become increasingly open about the past transgressions of people and brands. Naturally, much of this involves re-evaluating and reprimanding taboo imagery in entertainment.

Among the main culprits of this objectionable material are rock and metal music videos. Simply put, they often described various acts of debauchery (whether sexual, violent, blasphemous, and/or otherwise) that could possibly not be condoned in our modern cultural climate. Yes, we’re looking at you, Crue and a number of others as well. After all, rockers are rebels who—for better or worse—tend to break the rules anyway, so they’re going to do what they’re going to do no matter how society reacts.

Consider the following 10 examples, which – if released now – would surely get their creators canceled due to their obnoxious content (even if that provocation is essential to their sharp social commentary).

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    “Girls Girls Girls” (1987)

    Motley Crue

    The title track and lead single from Mötley Crüe’s fourth album, the song itself could still be enjoyed as a crass but fun ’80s rocker on strip clubs.

    On the other hand, Wayne Isham’s visualized version (shot at the Seventh Veil on the Sunset Strip) would almost certainly be chastised for its emphasis on scantily clad dancers being ogled by bikers and other overbearing men.

    Of course, you could say this promotes performers’ ownership over their sexuality, but that would be a bit of a stretch. Really, it’s just a sordid celebration of the male gaze that would have upset many viewers today.

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    “Drowning in the City” (2008)

    A skylit player

    Post-hardcore troupe A Skylit Drive wasted no time creating a provocative film, as this is from their debut collection, 2007 She looked at the sky PE.

    It features footage of a heterosexual couple having sex on a pool table at a party. Later, the woman sees the man chatting with other women and tries to make a scene, only to be aggressively kicked out by two other guys. She then tears up her room thinking about his betrayal.

    Although he’s relatively tame, his allusions to sex, violence against women, and mental health issues are alarming enough.

  • 8

    “If you think this song is about you, it probably is” (2010)


    Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows only made one album – 2011 MEDICATIONS – and maybe that was for the best given how freely abrasive this one is.

    It opens with a rude interrogation leading to a glimpse of the singer contemplating suicide with “a noose and a chair”. Then there are persistent flashes of empty pill bottles and a naked woman being verbally and physically assaulted by said singer. At the end, it is implied that he killed her and buries her on a deserted road.

    Clearly, it’s replete with illustrations of misogyny, drug use, self-harm, and murder that drastically challenge modern sensibilities.

  • 7

    “The Show Must Go On” (2013)

    Famous Last Words

    2013 Two-faced charade is a concept album about a schizophrenic stranger who falls in love with his neighbor, finds out she has a boyfriend, and kills the couple before cutting their wrists.

    Unsurprisingly, frontman Jeremy Tollas’ video for the two-part closing track doesn’t shy away from tragedy. Playing the role of his disgruntled protagonist, he binds and yells at the woman while literally arguing with himself.

    Eventually, she escapes but is soon captured and choked to death before Tollas rams a mirror shard into her stomach.

    Eight years later, viewers would totally disagree with its offensive implications.

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    “Control Y” (2004)

    Yeah yeah yeah

    It’s an unwritten rule in entertainment that you don’t glorify dead animals or children (there’s even a website to catalog movies and TV shows that do). Obviously, famed director Spike Jonze didn’t know this, as his music video for “Y Control” depicts numerous deviant children abusing a deceased dog while the band performs.

    Probably inspired by Stephen King Corn Childrenyouths also wield weapons, turn off the camera, destroy property, slaughter each other and engage in other sinister acts.

    At the time, MTV preempted a censored version with a warning from Jonze. Today it could not be shown at all.

  • 5

    “Jesus Christ Pose” (1991)

    sound garden

    Soundgarden’s “Jesus Christ Pose” video — which shows a crucified woman in the desert, a burning cross, and the group reaching out their arms messianically, among various other disturbing images — was so controversial when it was released that MTV stopped play it.

    The fact that the track and the video were supposed as criticism of “celebrities and rock stars who had adopted this kind of vulnerable, pained pose and/or demeanor on their fan base” didn’t matter. Regardless of context or intent, the video was deemed too inappropriate to consume.

    Three decades later, the public has become even more sensitive to such a seemingly sacrilegious subject.

  • 4

    “Jeremy” (1992)

    pearl jam

    Directed by Mark Pellington, it was hugely popular at the time, eventually winner four MTV Video Music Awards in 1993.

    Of course, he deserved nothing less because his disturbing but poetic character (and partially nonfiction) The chronicle of an abused teenager who committed suicide in front of his class was a prophetic and heartbreaking cautionary tale.

    Unfortunately, similarly extreme incidents have become all too common in America since “Jeremy” was released, making the video too disturbing and divisive for 2021.

    In particular, the The new “uncensored” version of the Pearl Jam clip actually reveals Jeremy putting the gun in his mouth, so it’s particularly triggering and polarizing.

  • 3

    “Heart-Shaped Box” (1993)


    Nirvana’s ‘heart-shaped box’ is as surreal as it is outrageous, featuring an unsettling and shocking fever dream conceived by Kurt Cobain and filmmaker Anton Corbijn.

    It follows a dying man in a hospital bed who enters his subconscious and crucifies himself while wearing a Santa hat. Along the way, there is also a young girl conspicuously dressed in a Ku Klux Klan uniform who dances around him trying to hang fetuses from a tree.

    Like “Jeremy,” it has garnered widespread critical acclaim over the years, but that doesn’t mean distinctly Puritan or religious viewers wouldn’t try to berate everyone involved.

  • 2

    “Closer” (1994)

    Nine inch nails

    Taken from the album Nine Inch Nails 1994 The downward spiralMark Romanek’s ghoulishly abstract visual interpretation is a fascinating, inventive and daring journey that’s also endlessly incendiary.

    Among his problematic depictions are a frightened monkey tied to a cross, a beating heart, rushing cockroaches, a graphic diagram of a vagina, a severed pig’s head spinning clockwise, a woman nude and leader Trent Reznor wearing various bondage accessories.

    Granted, it’s not all equally insidious, but the video nonetheless creates a cumulatively unpleasant environment – both in terms of what East shown and what is merely implied – that would get Reznor and company in hot water now.

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    “Bad Girlfriend” (2008)

    The dead man’s theory

    The racy adaptation of Colin Minihan’s “Bad Girlfriend” is like an even more archaic successor to Mötley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls.”

    It centers on an exotic dancer who hides what she is doing by telling her boyfriend that she works in a hospital. One night, he unknowingly visits his club with friends and proceeds to party with other employees before seeing his partner perform.

    Incredibly, she’s not mad at him for being a bad boyfriend; instead, she invites him on stage and rewards his behavior, thereby promoting outdated examples of female sexualization and at least some sexist double standards.

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