The 14 Most Controversial Music Videos Of All Time

It's not all pure shock value, although there is a lot of it

When Kanye West announced that he would premiere the video for his song "Famous" on a 100-foot screen at the L.A. Forum, it was pretty clear that it was going to be something big. After all, everything the rapper has done in his career—especially lately—has been unapologetically vexed. Thirty seconds in, those who were watching the broadcast in person and streaming it on TIDAL started to guess what the visual would say. Cutting between interview soundbites, static, and what appeared to be footage of a mock sex tape, it seemed as if it was either going to be some sort of look into West's reality or a perspective on the new type of fame that he and the Kardashian family have created. Instead, what the public found was a nearly 11-minute clip of figures that West has found himself sharing headlines with. It was pure shock value—and, quite obviously, it was successful.

While we debate whether or not it holds a higher purpose, it's important to reflect upon music's relationship with controversy, and the visual aids that have accompanied its incendiary lyrics and figures in the past. At the end of the day, music and film are forms of artistic expression. MTV may be pumping out reality shows nowadays, but it created an environment where artists could combine both mediums to make some sort of grand statement. While there's certainly a lot of bullshit out there clogging the airwaves and YouTube's servers, there are a lot of music video moments that have changed the course of policy and people's perceptions. 
 
Ahead, we visit the most controversial music videos of all time, and the messages they were trying to present.