Sam Smith’s latest music video has sparked controversy with critics arguing that it is “normalizing pornography” in pop culture. The “raunchy” video for the British singer-songwriter’s new track “I’m Not Here To Make Friends” has led to a debate over whether it should be age-restricted on platforms such as YouTube, due to its supposedly explicit content.
The video, released over the weekend, shows Smith, 30, arriving at a castle via helicopter in a fluffy pink coat. A voiceover says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an ‘Amen’ in here?” Then, Smith can be seen dancing alongside performers wearing corsets, cut-out buttocks and nipple tassels. Fountains of water are also seen being sprayed into the singer’s mouth from the walls. In other scenes, dancers are filmed slowly thrusting on beds wearing leather underwear.
Appearing on The Graham Norton Show, Smith said, “Weirder things have happened in that castle.”
On an episode of ITV’s Good Morning Britain Monday (January 30), journalist Alex Phillips said the music video was “unhealthy” for society, adding that the video equated to “extreme hardcore pornography” in parts. She added, “You have had to edit a lot of that video down to be able to show it on television. 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 in an age now where porn is becoming so normalized. 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.”
When asked whether she would still have taken issue with the video if it starred Madonna instead of Smith, 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. That doesn’t bother me. It is the overt sexualization, 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.”
Sam Smith’s latest music video has caused controversy online, as social media called it 'vulgar and hyper-sexualised'. However, others have called the video empowering as a non-binary person is celebrating their body.— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) January 30, 2023
Is the video empowering or offensive? pic.twitter.com/z2IZgr2dvP
Viewers bashed the music video on social media. One person stated on Twitter: “YouTube does not have any age restrictions on Sam Smiths degrading sexualised new music video. 5 year olds can search this up and watch it with no content restrictions! Sam Smith, this is not art. This is not trendy. This is not empowering. This is monstrous! #SamSmith”
YouTube does not have any age restrictions on Sam Smiths degrading sexualised new music video.— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) January 28, 2023
5 year olds can search this up and watch it with no content restrictions!
Sam Smith, this is not art. This is not trendy. This is not empowering. This is monstrous! #SamSmith pic.twitter.com/NoDec6rtEE
Commenting on Smith’s post, the same user also wrote, “The most grotesque music video I have ever seen Sam I get you are desperate to spark outrage and get views but do you know how many children will see this? You are trying to normalize urinating in someone’s mouth and all the other degrading fetishes your music video features.”
Another person wrote: “This is beyond disgusting. This video is trash. The fact that kids can see it on TV is even worse. Be who you want to be, love who you want to love. I take no issue with that but don’t shove this filth in people’s faces, especially children’s.”
This is beyond disgusting. This video is trash. The fact that kids can see it on TV is even worse. Be who you want to be, love who you want to love. I take no issue with that but don't shove this filth in people's faces, especially children's.— 🇨🇦Unacceptable Canadian Girl🇨🇦 (@AreOhEssEyeEe) January 29, 2023
One person claimed, “I thought I accidentally went on a pornsite for a second.” Meanwhile, another wrote, “Depraved and desperate. Children/teens shouldn’t be exposed to this when listening/following an artist whose music they like. You are an absolute disgrace of a man. Pathetic!!” Another wrote, “Take it to Pornhub, and off TV screens; did you collaborate with Balenciaga on this? Strange mixture of pathetic and sick.”
Watch the NSFW music video for “I’m Not Here To Make Friends” below: