The concept of a YouTube music channel is not new. But over the last couple of years, a new breed of channel has emerged, one that provides music of a certain genre all in one place. The concept is a brilliant one, allowing the listener to access huge amounts of the same type of music without having to sift through endless videos of varying quality before they find what they’re looking for. However, the use of sexually suggestive images of women is a negative and woefully backward aspect of many of these channels, particularly within the deep house genre.
Majestic Casual is an obvious example: established in 2011, the channel has become known both for its deep house remixes and accompanying images of semi-naked women. These act as ‘clickbait’, encouraging YouTube browsers to select videos based on what they see. Clickbaiting is by no means limited to Majestic Casual’s videos; Popular channels such as MrDeepSense and DeepMixNation are characterised partly by their extensive use of heavily edited images of bikini-clad women in their videos. One user comments “I like the girls in the background of deep house videos”. Whilst this is not offensive, it serves to highlight the normality of women being used as objects of focus in the videos. The comment does not mention the music.
This, along with other similar comments, suggests that the aim of gaining views through images of women is proving to be a success. There are several problems that this causes, the most significant of which is the encouraging of a misogynistic environment in which many comments posted by males relate only to their desire to ‘put it in her’. In addition to this, abuse can be received by anyone expressing a view that goes against that of an ignorant sexist, and these images and the subsequent debate that often ensues distracts attention from the music itself. Furthermore, the use of a heavily sexualised image may add connotations to a song that were never intended by the artist, and whilst music is obviously subjective, it is unfair to taint a song with an unrelated image that is likely to provoke a response, whether positive or negative.
Thankfully, the general view seems to have turned against these pointless photos. Barely an hour after Majestic Casual’s latest video is uploaded (with an intimate photo of a couple), comments posted include “unnecessary picture” and “it’s basically light porn”. That said, Majestic Casual has recently reduced the amount of images containing semi-nudity, perhaps wanting to appeal to more listeners, and the instant reaction suggests that many listeners support the move away from such images. The channel clearly no longer feels the need to constantly appeal to male fantasies, suggesting that they feel confident in their ability to gain views through the music alone.
The fact that some major channels are abandoning the divisive use of sexually suggestive images because they have achieved huge popularity initially seems positive, and it is (partly); but the idea that they no longer ‘need’ these images to maintain their popularity is deeply worrying, and suggests that semi-naked women are a very effective tool for gaining popularity, only becoming unnecessary when this is achieved. Lesser known names such as BestMusicVibes and LucidPlain seem to be copying popular channels in the hope of achieving similar success, thoughtlessly using images without considering the effects these may have on women, men and on the genre as a whole.
Both women and men should be able to enjoy deep house without feeling uncomfortable, or being prevented from commenting due to the fear of a crude, sexist reply. Songs shouldn’t be subjected to sexually suggestive images placed by unimaginative channel managers hoping to gain more views. Talented artists don’t need visual accompaniments to improve their songs, and listeners don’t need images of soft pornography to enjoy music. As one commenter asks, “Hey, isn’t it about the music?”