When Britney Spears topped the Billboard
Hot 100 last week with her new single "3", I very briefly
thought society might be loosening up about sex. "Living in sin is the new thing," she
coos and then proceeds to list the joys of a ménage à trois. They play this on the radio? Wicked.
Clearly, I shouldn't read much into the success of a sexy pop song. I came back to reality this weekend, when I received a tersely-worded email from the "YouTube Team."
YouTube removed Xtra.ca's news
report on the 2009 Church Street Fetish Fair, because our video apparently
violates the YouTube "community guidelines."
The video features Xtra.ca reporter
Michael Pihach at the public event, interviewing kinksters about
their fetishes. We also uploaded
the video to Xtra.ca's own server - you can watch it for yourself here:
The video does not feature any frontal
nudity, but there are plenty of freshly spanked butt cheeks. There's even one
guy who has an Xtra fetish. Seriously. It's kinda hot.
In its message to Xtra.ca, the video-sharing website had this to say:
"Most nudity is not allowed on
YouTube, particularly if it is in a sexual context. Videos that are
intended to be sexually provocative are also generally not acceptable for
YouTube. 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
That's a bit ambiguous, don't you
think? YouTube doesn't say which scene triggered the video's removal, so we're left guessing.
YouTube's community guidelines say that
"YouTube is not for pornography or sexually explicit content," but I think it's a stretch to call our report "pornography" or even "explicit." A bare ass is explicit? Give me a break. There are bare bums all over YouTube -- the sky hasn't fallen.
The rules also mention that
"If your video shows
someone getting hurt, attacked or humiliated, don't post it." Yes, our videographer gets his ass
flogged on camera. Yes, he barks orders at a submissive kinkster, who then rolls
around like a puppy. But it's all consensual.
As is often the case with web censorship, there's no easy way to challenge YouTube's decision. I'd argue that as a piece of journalism, our video serves a "documentary" purpose, and therefore falls within the community guidelines. Our emails to YouTube have so far gone unanswered, but if we hear back, we'll let you know!