Screencap of YouTube’s blocking of the video (by author)

Hyperallergic tweep @remaerdyaD pointed out that David Wojnarowicz’ video, recently removed from the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek exhibition, has also been flagged as “inappropriate for some users” on YouTube, meaning that viewers will have to sign in to the website and check their safety settings before being able to watch the video.

I have to guess that YouTube’s decision to wall off the video was carried out in the aftermath of the conflict at the Smithsonian over religious imagery in Wojnarowicz’ work. The unbelievable part of this issue is that the imagery in the video itself really isn’t very explicit, nor particularly profane. As I’ve pointed out, the work is memorial in tone rather than satirical or angry.

If you get offended at blurry ants crawling over a blurry figure on a cross, I suggest you avoid watching such non-blocked YouTube videos as this one documenting the Chapman Brother’s work or this interestingly necrophiliac video found by Brent Burket. It seems like YouTube just caught wind of current politics and decided, unfortunately, to go with the flow and wall the work for its “offensive” potential. Happy NSFW day!

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly, Kill Screen, Creators...

5 replies on “Censored Smithsonian Video Flagged “Inappropriate” on YouTube”

  1. Any user can flag a YouTube video – YouTube actually is never the first line of defense here. I doubt they made a judgement call about this at all. YT doesn’t have the bandwidth to review all uploaded video so they rely on users to do it for them. Video is still available, you just need to be logged in.

    1. I’ll have to figure out the exact policy, you think if enough people flag it it just automatically gets walled? That would make sense. Still, I bet it’s the recent culture clash that caused the flagging one way or the other

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