These days it’s sometimes tough to know what’s going to run afoul of internet censors on various platforms. There don’t appear to be uniform rules governing what is or isn’t appropriate meaning getting say banned from Youtube might be different than getting banned from Facebook. And vice versa. One interesting case study in this came up on YouTube with a fully-clothed version of Spider-Man’s Mary Jane Watson getting the ban hammer for nudity. Again, you read the first part correctly: she was wearing clothes in the original image. But like I said, it sometimes doesn’t take much and that’s the case with this latest picture.
It’s a long and winding road to get from the original Mary Jane illustration getting banned from YouTube to it actually happening, so let’s start at the beginning. Comic book artist J. Scott Campbell had illustrated The Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 Issue #601 and one of the panes featured Mary Jane sitting on a couch, holding a cup of tea with Spidey in the background climbing a building. It’s standard comic book fare with decidedly disproportionate proportions around the character’s features, namely her breasts. Okay, while not entirely anatomically accurate, it isn’t all the different from what we’ve seen on the printed pages before.
Before it got banned from YouTube though, a Tumblr account decided to “fix” Campbell’s original drawings with a different version of Mary Jane. This one toned down the cleavage gave her a shirt that covered up most of her top and put her in a slightly more relaxed position. The goal of this “fix” was to take away the perceived hyper-sexualization of the original image. Campbell ended up responding with a fix of his own and so the comic book infighting remained circular.
Then, the account Clownfish TV decided to do a video about it, and this is when things started to get banned from YouTube. On that account, the cover image thumbnail was of the original picture by Campbell. YouTube deemed this image inappropriate and cited their policy on the depiction of (in this case apparently) breasts (clothed or unclothed) for the purpose of sexual gratification. They took the video down with this as the warning.
What’s interesting about this video being banned from YouTube is that is was actually dealing with the discussion around sexual images and portrayals of women in comic book illustrations. That was literally the entire debate. The video was about one artist’s interpretation being called out and then another depicting a more realistic version of the female character. The video wasn’t meant to actually illicit sexual gratification in this case, but to rather discuss something that many in the comic book field have been talking about for years.
Again, these days it’s sometimes tough to know what’s going to get banned from YouTube. Some things appear totally fine and are taken down while others look like clear violations and stay up. It’s a crazy day and age we are living in with the rules seemingly updated every day.