Google Accused of Homophobia over Perfume Genius Video Rejection

Google Accused of Homophobia over Perfume Genius Video Rejection
Perfume Genius (aka Michael Hadreas) is gearing up to release a new album called Put Your Back N 2 It on February 21 via Matador, but the record's marketing campaign has been steeped in controversy due to YouTube's refusal to upload a video ad for the project.

Borrowing clips from the "Hood" music video, which features Hadreas and porn star Arpad Miklos in various states of undress but no nudity, the 16-second ad simply shows Hadreas and Miklos hugging in their underwear.

According to a message from YouTube and Google, however, the clip was rejected for "promoting mature sexual themes" and deemed "not family safe." The message read as follows [via Pitchfork]:

Any ads that contain non family safe material are disapproved. I noted to the team that the people in the video are not entirely unclothed, but the overall feeling of the video is one of a more adult nature, including promoting mature sexual themes and what appears to be nude content. As such, the video is non family safe. In order to have this video ad approved, you will need to bring it into compliance with our policy.

Matador Records' Nil Bernstein offered up the following statement to the Huffington Post:

I should note that this isn't a user-uploaded video -- the music video itself is on YouTube and not even flagged as "adult" -- this is what's called a "pre-roll" ad, those annoying ads that we pay YouTube to run before videos you want to watch. So it seems they're worried about upsetting unsuspecting viewers that don't want to see two men looking romantically at each other. But I've had ads for anti-gay-rights Republican candidates and Jersey Shore-style TV shows sprung on me that seem to fit "not family safe" or "promoting mature sexual themes" more than this. I bet most of the people in the approvals department don't even agree with this, but are afraid to piss off deep-pocketed conservative clients, which is even sadder given the innocence of this clip.

Former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe has also joined in on the dialogue, writing on his Tumblr page, "I've been listening to the new Perfume Genius record all last week in Mexico, it is a beautiful and amazing record and a stunning 2nd album and achievement. But in trying to advertise the record and first video, this short clip has been banned by YouTube. For YouTube to deem this advertisement as 'non family safe' is dumbheaded discrimination; I find their actions in doing so disgraceful and cowardly. YouTube, shame on you. You were born of the 21st Century, now act like it."

The ad in question, which has been uploaded to Vimeo, is available below.

Perfume Genius ad from nils bernstein on Vimeo.