Sam Smith fans have jumped to the singer’s defence after their new music video sparked outrage over its ‘hyper-sexualised’ scenes – arguing that it has been ‘going on for decades’.
The singer, 30, released the ‘raunchy’ video for their new track I’m Not Here To Make Friends last week, with critics calling for it to be age restricted on platforms such as YouTube due to its controversial content.
But fans have been quick to point out how similarly risqué videos have been released by global artists such as Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax. Madonna’s Like a Prayer, Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball and Queen’s I Want to Break Free.
Smith’s music video shows them arriving at a castle in a helicopter before dancing alongside a large number of performers wearing corsets, suspenders and nipple tassels, while at one point a fountain of water is seen being sprayed into the singer’s mouth.
Sam Smith is seen wearing a corset, suspenders and nipple tassels in their new music video for I’m Not Here To Make Friends
Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax was also highlighted as evidence that risqué music videos have been released for decades
In other scenes, the dancers are filmed slowly thrusting on a bed wearing only black leather underwear and later surround Smith, who is non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them, while dancing provocatively.
The music video for Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax, the lyrics for which contain a number of sexual innuendos, was shot in a gay nightclub and featured the bandmembers surrounded by leather-clad muscly men.
The song and its video were later banned by the BBC, despite its success.
Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball was banned from daytime television following its release in 2013.
In the video, a nude Cyrus straddles a swinging wrecking ball and licks a sledgehammer before using it to smash surrounding walls.
The then 20-year-old claimed the overtly gratuitous display was symbolic of where she was in life at the time.
Like a Prayer was also hugely controversial at the time of its release in 1989.
The music video features burning crosses from the Ku Klux Klan and a dream sequence with Madonna making love to a black saint.
The day after it was released, The Vatican condemned the music video.
Despite the controversy, the song was universally acclaimed and won the Viewer’s Choice Award at the Video Music Awards.
Meanwhile, comedian Sooz Kempner today said: ‘I finally watched the Sam Smith video and was like “that’s…it?!”
‘Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon were in full joyful drag in the I Want To Break Free video almost 40 years ago. In the middle Freddie is writhing with ballet dancers’
Miley Cyrus is seen riding on top of a Wrecking Ball during the music video for her song of the same name
In the video, a nude Cyrus straddles a swinging wrecking ball and licks a sledgehammer before using it to smash surrounding walls
Radio presenter Shivani Dave also highlighted how past stars such as Madonna (pictured in her Like a Prayer music video) would not have received similar criticism if they had released such a video
Madonna’s music video features burning crosses from the Ku Klux Klan and a dream sequence with Madonna making love to a black saint
Dancers are seen surrounding Smith, who is non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them, while dancing provocatively
Topless men wearing white leather pants surround the singer during the I’m Not Here to Make Friends music video
Barrister Dr Charlotte Proudman added: ‘If a straight white cis woman popstar did what sam smith did there would be no problem.
‘People just don’t like that Sam is queer, plus sized and unapologetic about it. Case in point: – Christina Aguilera in Dirrty – Miles Cyrus in Wrecking Ball – Madonna in Like a Prayer.’
And another said: ‘It’s nothing new to me – I’m thinking “Rocky Horror Picture Show” or Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax video!’
Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain to debate the music video and defend the singer, radio presenter Shivani Dave also highlighted how past stars such as Madonna would not have received similar criticism if they had released such a video.
They said: ‘Just to clear it up to start with, Sam Smith’s music video has absolutely nothing to do with the ludicrous behaviour that police officers have been conducting in their WhatsApp groups and Sam Smith has done nothing in order to impact horrible things to do with sexual assault in schools.
‘That is appalling and I am sure Sam Smith would be disgusted by all of those things. What they are doing is completely irrelevant.
‘Miley Cyrus has done this, Nicki Minaj has done this, – so many people have done this.
‘What I think the difference here is that Sam Smith was assigned male at birth and we are not used to seeing people who are assigned male at birth dancing around in lingerie and corsets and things like that.’
They added: ‘Madonna has done that. There were some people who said it was over-sexualisation and it wasn’t on the television in the morning – people weren’t debating it in the same way.’
Dave also said that sexualised music videos have been ‘going on for decades’.
The radio presenter added: ‘It is something that we see change over time. In ten years time we will probably look back and think this is an absolute preposterous debate to be having on the TV.
‘Instead of calling for Sam Smith, I don’t even know what they are calling for, they just don’t like the video, so don’t watch it and if you don’t want your kids to watch it, don’t let them watch it.’
It came as journalist Alex Phillips said the music video was ‘unhealthy’ for society, adding that it equated to ‘extreme hardcore pornography’ in parts.
She told presenters Susanna Reid and Richard Madeley: ‘You have had to edit a lot of that video down to be able to show it on television.
Critics called for age restrictions as they said children as young as five can watch the ‘sexualised’ music video on YouTube
Smith is also seen performing provocative dance moves during the music video, released last week
Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today, journalist Alex Phillips said the music video was ‘unhealthy’ for society
Sam Smith has sparked a row over their new music video. Pictured: The singer performs on stage at Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball 2022
‘The point is that teenagers and young people are the audience who are watching these things and it doesn’t come with a block. They are fully available on YouTube and TikTok.
‘We live an age now where porn is becoming so normalised. It is in music videos, it is in fast fashion that is being marketed to teens and we also live in an age where we know that people are getting sexually assaulted at school.
‘You are having to have websites where people are saying “I am going through these terrible experiences”. You have got filth going on in WhatsApp groups among police officers.
‘I don’t think it is a coincidence that the reporting of things like sexual assaults and sexual attacks, relationships falling apart, the swipe left and swipe right generation. It is bad, it is unhealthy, it is not good for society and this is a symptom of it.’
Asked whether she would still have taken issue with the video if it starred Madonna instead of Smith, Ms Phillips added: ‘Yes, of course. To me it is not about how Sam Smith dresses or their pronouns. I really don’t care about that. At the peak of the British empire, men were walking around in giant wigs with beauty spots. T
‘That doesn’t bother me. It is the overt sexualisation, the S&M aspect, it is what would be considered extreme hardcore pornography being symbolically represented in various acts in this video and the audience for that being young people.
‘That is not normal. We have got to a stage where people need to rein it back in now.’
The journalist also said it is not possible to protect children from being exposed to the ‘extreme sex scenes’ shown in the video.
She continued: ‘The problem is the graphic portrayal of what would be extreme sex scenes. It is all very well saying don’t let your children watch it, kids have handsets and mobile phones – they are going to see it. Y
‘You cannot protect your kids from things like this. It doesn’t come with a content warning, you don’t have to put a credit card in and prove that you’re 18 to watch this video.’
Similarly, viewers were also mixed on their views on the music video on social media.
Some said the video needs to be kept away from children and is akin to a Playboy photo shoot.
One tweeted: ‘It is vulgar…Sam Smith has a great voice, but his video is a offensive. I certainly don’t want my child to see it..
‘Less is more Sam. How can this been seen as “empowering” is beyond me. A sign of this crazy times if someone thinks that’s good!’
A second said: ‘Totally agree with Alex and this needs to be banned it’s disgraceful.’
A third added: ‘It’s time for standards to be raised regarding pop videos. So many of them are no more than porn, soft or otherwise. What are these people trying to do to our children?’
But some fans were quick to jump to their defence, alleging hypocrisy over similar music videos released by female singers.
One said: ‘Whether you like Sam Smith or not there were a lot worse videos in the 80s and 90s. There’s always calls to ban these things. People only like freedom of expression when it suits them.’
Another tweeted: ‘Blimey, Lots of pearl clutching! Does anyone remember the 70s and 80s. Remember the Tubes or Divine? Move on everyone It’s been done before.’
A third said: ‘I see no difference between them and a woman doing the same thing. It is what it is.
‘They’re living their best life.’
A fourth added: ‘I’m not a fan of Sam Smith but can’t see any difference than the types of videos made by people like Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna etc. They weren’t being debated on the TV.’
The debate came after GMB presenter Richard Madeley had to apologise for misgendering Smith on the show.
Sam, 30, is non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them and Richard was talking about the scenes in Sam’s video, when he accidentally referred to them as ‘he.’
While a panel was discussing the video, Richard said they ‘had a point’ and they informed him that they too use they/them pronouns.
Richard apologised a second time and said: ‘I am so sorry. I will learn to do that.’
Gloria, Sam’s fourth studio album, was released on Friday and is the first LP they have released in three years.
It was dropped after almost a year of public preparations from Sam, who released its first single Love Me More in April 2022.
Sam revealed on Friday they were spat at in the street after coming out as non-binary.
The Grammy winner changed their gender pronouns to they/them in 2019, and said they wish they had done it sooner but also opened up about the shocking backlash.