PBS, of all things, has run afoul of YouTube’s age restriction policies. I happened to see a Tweet regarding the PBS channel “The Art Assignment,” one of the various PBS channels I subscribe to. It took me to an episode that aired before I subscribed, “The Case for Nudity.” It is an analysis of our uncomfortable relationship between, art nudity and the censors.

As an art class figure model, I have a special interest here. Many colleges have stopped using nude models because of the protests of a small but vocal group of cultural conservatives. (The far left and the far right seem equally bent on censorship of conflicting POVs. They just censor different things.) Colleges are notoriously cowardly and readily surrender to the heckler’s veto.

So, I was going to write an essay of the history of nudity in art and link to the PBS video as an outstanding bit of intelligent thinking. But then, this is what showed up:

There’s nothing about this video that is even vaguely pornographic or sexually explicit. It is an academic treatise. But there are a small number of people out there who would make a big noise so of course, YouTube must protect itself against being yelled at. That’s the power of the heckler’s veto.

Yeah, we can still watch it but we have to log in to our YouTube accounts to prove we are old enough. I have yet to find out what YouTube considers old enough. To me, this is crazy. As an experiment, I changed my age in my YouTube account to 14, logged out of YouTube, cleared my cache and cookies, and then tried to view the PBS video. Here is what I got:

I hit the sign-in button and the video launched. What age range are they “protecting?” I went back in and tried to make myself younger. The algorithm wouldn’t let me be younger than my YouTube account, so I called it quits. Maybe 5-year-olds couldn’t see it but I’m too lazy to make a new account to find out.

Which brings up another strange point… the age of the account holder seems to be entirely on the honor system. All this age-based restriction seems to be a facade for the benefit of moral reactionaries. While at the same time, the unrestricted access to seeing breastfeeding nipples is likely a bone tossed to yet another group and not a belief that breasts are wholesome in general. If you aren’t breastfeeding, your nipples are age-restricted. YouTube policies seem tuned to the demands of specific groups rather than any overarching principles

So, after all that commentary, I grabbed a frame from the video and made it into a link for the video because I don’t like big black warning boxes in my blog. Here is the PBS: The Art Assignment video, “The Case for Nudity.”

Click to play