A scene from the Bloodhound Gang's satirical video for "The Bad Touch" was edited out this week, after the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation claimed it portrayed gay-bashing.
"I think the image out there was dangerous," Scott Seomin, entertainment media director for GLAAD, said. "I know it's a satire — I mean, come on, the band is dressed as monkeys — but a gay-bashing scene in any context in today's climate is not acceptable."
The video debuted Feb. 7 on MTV's "120 Minutes" and shows the costumed members of the rock group walking around Paris. When they see two men dressed as sailors, arms locked, feeding each other french fries, they attack and beat up the pair.
"After seeing the video, I called MTV and asked if they could check it out. I wasn't sure what my eyes just saw," Seomin said. "Talking to them, they realized that the scene in question was not a good representation of the channel."
In a statement, MTV said, "After reviewing the video again internally, there were some images we didn't feel comfortable with and asked the record label to make some edits. The record company edited the video, and it is currently in regular rotation on MTV."
Bloodhound Gang guitarist Lupus Thunder said on Friday the band had already submitted a copy of the video with the scene edited out before the GLAAD complaint.
"Somebody at MTV f---ed up and was playing the wrong version of the video," Thunder said. "It would have never happened had MTV played the right version."
MTV spokesperson Irene Fu said on Monday (March 6) that only one video was submitted originally, and the edits to it were made later.
Lupus said Bloodhound Gang does not have a political agenda. "In the end, it's all humor, just us goofing off," he said. "Some people would say we're sexist or racist, but we're not. It's not like we're like, 'Gay people ... ooh.' I could care less. Whatever you want to do, do it. It's the same with religion, color of skin, whatever. It's no big deal. Just go out, have fun, live your life and enjoy yourself. That's pretty much all we're about."
"I think MTV should be applauded," Seomin said. "And certainly Geffen Records did the right thing by taking another look at it and realizing how dangerous such a video could be." (SonicNet's parent company, Viacom, also owns MTV.)
Seomin said GLAAD has no clear definitions of what is tolerable in entertainment media and added that they are apprehensive about making censorship requests.
But MTV's audience is "very impressionable youth," he said. "They don't need a message that gay-bashing in any form is OK."
When GLAAD researched the Bloodhound Gang, they found the Philadelphia-spawned, Los Angeles-based band to be "very gay-friendly," despite a song from their album One Fierce Beer Coaster (1996) called "I Wish I Was Queer So I Could Get Chicks" (RealAudio excerpt).
"I don't believe the band is homophobic," Seomin said. "The title of that song is very funny because we know what it means: 'Let's pretend I'm gay so that a girl will not be threatened by me. Then she'll fall in love with me.' It's been done so many times in sitcoms it's actually a tired plot."
"The Bad Touch" (RealAudio excerpt), the lead single from Hooray for Boobies, released on Tuesday (Feb. 29), features the chorus "You and me baby/ We ain't nothing but mammals/ So let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel."
Earlier this month a Dannevirke, New Zealand, couple lodged a complaint against broadcaster The Radio Network, claiming the song's lyrics breached the norms of decency and good taste, was harmful to children and transgressed broadcasters' obligation to be socially responsible.
The couple, Vaughan and Diane Barrow, could not be reached for comment, but a local newspaper article quoted them as saying the song "denigrates the sexual act of humans to that of mammals of homosexual orientation."
The Broadcasting Standards Authority, however, was not convinced the bounds of good taste were exceeded in the context of a music station targeted at a youth audience.
"First, the words were not always distinct, particularly on a first hearing, and secondly, there were two levels of meaning which were open to interpretation by the listener," authority chairman Sam Maling said in his official ruling.
(This story was updated with additional reporting at 7 p.m.
EST Monday, March 6.)