Home / When is a Music Video Not a Music Video? The Pack – “Vans”

When is a Music Video Not a Music Video? The Pack – “Vans”

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Apparently, according to their publicist, the video for The Pack's "Vans"  has been banned from MTV airways and the group was even asked to change the name of the song.  What, I wonder, could be so controversial as to get banned from MTV?  Were there wanton acts of sexual perversion? Highly political imagery?  Religious undertones that would enrage people at home and abroad?

First, let’s look at some past banned videos. According to Wikipedia, the first music video banned from MTV was 1991’s "Girls on Film" by Duran Duran. The reason for this ban was pretty clear, frontal nudity. Later MTV would ban Cher for her song "If I Could Turn Back Time." Allegedly this was due to a revealing bodysuit and the sailors. Personally I think it was that no one wanted to see a then 43 year old Cher in said bodysuit.  

Michael Jackson and Madonna have had videos banned or portions thereof.  For the King of Pop "They Don’t Care About Us" was banned for a purported anti-Semitic message, "Jew me, sue me, everybody do me / Kick me, kike me, don't you black or white me" as well as violent images in the back ground.  More to Jackson’s style, 1991’s "Black or White" was cut to remove images of him touching himself.  Which I guess, looking forward 15 years, is still better than him touching kids.   

For her part, Madonna has had a number of videos pushed to the side so that MTV wouldn’t offend anyone.  The depictions of sadomasochism, homosexuality, cross-dressing, and group sex were enough to get both "Justify My Love" and "Erotica" pulled from the airways.  "Erotica" was only played three times. In more recent history Madonna’s anti-war "American Life" was pulled due to its military images and the start of the second Iraq war. 

The list of banned music videos is extensive. Thanks to the majesty of YouTube,  many of them live still.  In a world where Dennis Franz’s hairy ass has paved the way for partial nudity, getting your video banned is like a badge of honor.  You’ve pushed the limits and the censors or the good people at MTV want to make sure your videos are never seen.  Of course there are no specific guidelines that run from channel to channel so what you may see on Much Music here in Canada will differ greatly from what is shown on VH1 or MTV.  There are literally hundreds of videos from the UK and Europe that will never get played here simply because Europe’s more relaxed sexual policies produce more highly sexual videos.  I can’t help but think that innovations such as YouTube and "user-generated content" will eventually circumvent the censors and media moguls at MTV.  Any of the videos I’ve mentioned can already be seen online with little or no effort. 

By now you’re thinking I’ve forgotten about "The Pack" and their "Vans" video.  Did it have any of those wanton acts of sexual perversion I was talking about?  Was it highly political?  Was the religious imagery too much for even the most liberal of viewers? Would it start riots at home and abroad?   Well in a word, NO!  It was in fact less controversial then this story.   It’s a 3 minute commercial for Vans shoes.  Obviously MTV felt that if Vans wanted advertising they should pay for it like everybody else.  This song is no "My Adidas."

Sample Lyrics:

Got my vans on, but they look like sneakers

Got my vans on, but they look like sneakers

Got my vans on, but they look like sneakers

U Wearin' coke whites cuz my vans look clean and

Got my vans on, but they look like sneakers

Got my vans on, but they look like sneakers

Got my vans on, but they look like sneakers

U Wearin' coke whites cuz my vans look clean

This video wasn’t banned, it just wasn’t picked up.  Saying it was banned is like saying radio banned the B-side of William Hung’s single.  Marketers should realize by now we’re not going to fall for this.  At least I hope no one will- then again some people think "My Humps" is a good song.  

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About DJ Freq

  • Chris Paracielli

    This is not a song, I’m sorry, it is an advertisement for Vans. “Since 1966, Vans had set a trend
    I got a blue pair, yea, in a size 10
    Get ur grown man on, when u wear top-siders
    Button ups and sweaters, equal attire ” , (excerpt from the “song”) It’s so cheesy that it’s almost believable. Listen to it and decide for yourself. Art or AD?

  • truthteller8495

    ok really? Michael Jackson was accquitted and vindicated of all charges for both cases on child abuse. it really pisses me off when ignorant people think he did that stuff just cuz his appearance was changing. idc how much u hate someone because of what u think they did, if they truely r innocent then let em be. he was one of the nicest men this world will ever see and ppl need to realize that.

  • imurdaddy009

    U cats think that cuz it doesn talk about a struggle it aint hip hop?? WTF?? Come on man…hip hop is about expression of ones self and u cats dont know real hip hop of even the history there of…read up on ur history…better yet…go back to MTV where they really dont know about the real hip hop anymore…takin this video off the air but yet they put crap like White and Nerdy and allow it to run?? Oh and did they stop Nelly’s Air Force Ones?? prolly not….everyone deserves their chance to speak their peace

  • Victor E

    I dont know wat u guys have against the song, I understand u want Old School Hip Hop…this isnt meant to be a song like that, u have to understand that nowadays people want to listen to that kind of stuff…now dont get me wrong I like Old School because of the deeper meanings but New School is great for the beats…but hey thats just my opinion

  • Update: MTV has now added the video with some video edits and beeping out the word “Vans”.

  • Victor: Yeah basically
    jrock: there’s a movement? I mmay not understand the movement but i understand basic song writing and this song is thin at best.

  • So, basically, suck is the new hip?

  • jrock

    sorry, but i just don’t think you understand bay area hip hop and the hyphy movement…and if they don’t play this video because of the mention of “vans” then they shouldn’t play “My Addidas” by Run DMC, or any song that mentions any purchasable product for that matter…

  • Oh come on! Tell me what in that video deserved to be banned? Just tell me one thing. If they grew up skating or not doesn’t change the fact that the video is a commercial for Vans. It also doesn’t change the fact that the song is bad. Like really really bad. Or for the more eloquent this song is a prime example of everything that is wrong with hip hop. I would rather listen to the black eyed peas then this song. And I’ve given up on the BEP empire.

    Despite what the major record companies tell you true hiphop is not about Vans, bling, or anything else you can buy. True hiphop is about the struggle, the history and the real life of an oppressed people. “Got my Vans on but they look like sneakers” Just doesn’t cut it. Sorry. try listening to something that makes you think. If you need help in this area leave a note and i’ll be glad to help!

  • Vans never paid them for the song or even asked for it. Two of the members grew up skating and have loved Vans for a long time. Sure they get ’em free now, but not when they made the song.

    research your subject first, don’t just post an uninformed blog.