YouTube and Vevo Introduce Age Ratings

UK-`produced music videos will now feature an age appropriate rating on YouTube videos.

The Government initiative comes after repeated concerns that young children are especially vulnerable to sexually explicit or violent music videos – the main culprits referenced are wrecking-ball-swinging, hammer licking Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s overtly misogynistic Blurred Lines.

UK labels such as Universal, Sony, Warner Music and a handful of Independent labels have already singed up, and will submit their videos to British Board of Film Classification before they are submitted to YouTube or Vevo. The process is already underway with 132 videos submitted. So far, 56 have been rated as appropriate for 12 year olds and above, 53 for 15 and above, and only Dizzee Rascal’s Couple of Stacks has been stamped with an 18+ rating. Apparently Dizzee brutally murdering people with a knife isn’t appropriate for those under 18.

However, the system is run on a voluntary basis – and while some major labels have signed up, there is no obligation for the others to. In addition, it is hardly a glaring rating, confined to the information box at the bottom of the video. I’m not sure about you, but when I was 17 I wasn’t checking the info box to see whether the content was deemed “appropriate” for my viewing. Plus with no blocking mechanism in place, I doubt many others will pay attention. It will likely remain a useful device for parents of young kids in general. The ratings will for the moment also stay limited to UK produced films, so a plethora of artists will slip through the cracks.

It raises a more interesting point of how a board can determine what is appropriate for our eyes. While I can accept that images of murder are probably not ideal for 6 year olds, 17 year olds are exposed to this on a daily basis through a range of media. Conversely, music videos are becoming more and more like professionally shot short films every day, and therefore it does make sense that they be classified like other movies.

However, just like movies – I suspect few people are going to pay attention to them.