The Believer: YouTube, I'm Sorry

John Reed

When I was first notified that five of my “Seven Sonnets Read by Webcam Girls” had been banned from YouTube, I was quite upset, frightened even.  (YouTube was hosting the videos for a project published by Vice Magazine). The decision seemed arbitrary, or worse—given all the sick, sexy and sexist material on YouTube, there seemed to be a double standard at work.  After all, I could watch over 17,000 gunshot blood spray videos, 627,000 girls shaking videos (many of them underage), and, well, on and on…  And there were other issues at stake (so I thought), which I felt prepared to talk about, since I had written about them before (for ex: at the Rumpus, the Believer, The Paris Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Slate, and Bomb Magazine).  But after my appeal was rejected by an automated decision (I respect your total lack of transparency on this, and your refusal even to address my request to know who flagged the videos), I have come to a deeper understanding. 

Let me begin by sincerely offering my heartfelt apology: I’m sorry I offended your elitism.  Poetry isn’t for people like this.  Webcam models and their viewers (even if said webcam models are fully clothed and not shaking anything), are simply beneath the dignity of poetry.  And that ilk of people, who are covered in tattoos and the type you shy away from in supermarkets, are not just unpleasant to look at, they’re very likely to represent some ideas that, well, just won’t do. 

Read the rest:

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