In September Wayne Coyne was booted off Instagram. You might have heard. The offending pictures were unspecified though Wayne and others speculate it was the birth-themed art promoting a new exhibit then about to open at his Womb gallery he posted the day before his account was shut down. Those pictures showed an alien giving birth and the “Womb Room” bar area designed around a NSFW juice dispenser “kind of modeled after the milk bar machine’s in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange,” as Wayne explains in this video:
“It’s funny when you’re there,” Wayne told MTV News of the peeing juice nude in his first interview after getting the boot, “but I can see when I posted it it just looked sort of disturbing and pornographic.”
A petition to restore his account was posted on this site, quickly spreading and gaining support. Instagram refused to respond to the petition, though when asked about Wayne’s situation by MTV a rep gave the standard, catch-all response, “Instagram has a clear set of community guidelines which make it clear what is and isn’t allowed. This includes photos or videos of actual nude people. We encourage people who come across content that makes them uncomfortable to report it to us using the built-in reporting tools next to every photo or video on Instagram.”
“Everybody else wanted me to protest, and I should’ve, [but] I don’t care that much,” Wayne told nme.com. “I think they have a policy of, like, ‘If you get three in one day, man, you’re out’. And I woke up Sunday, and everyone was like, ‘Dude, what happened!?’.”
He seemed partly remorseful, if only for his followers sake. “I do regret that I was a little too free with my Instagram,” he admitted to MTV News’ Brenna Ehrlic. “I see now that I had so many cool things on there that people could see what we were doing and see what we’re about — cool things that I think people would really like.”
Any regret he might have felt was not enough to keep him from posting more of the NSFW same and getting his second account banned earlier today.
As with last time the offending photos were in promotion of a new exhibit at The Womb Gallery. Apparently Instagram didn’t take kind to Wayne sharing pictures of a woman covered in paint. Wayne quickly set up a third account under user name “waynewontpostpicsofnakedwomen.” That name implies this has become a big joke to Wayne, as does his new user image: one of the deleted photos from his second account showing Wayne with Kevin Parker baiting rule enforcers:
The ban of the second account was a result of posting photos of a “paint pour test” being conducted at The Womb in anticipation of Oliver Hibert’s exhibit opening this Friday. Below are the photos from the test the gallery and Oliver have shared:
Since last fall Instagram had almost become Wayne’s sole social media outlet (most of his tweets are automatically posted when he publishes on his Instagram account). On his original account he posted a treasure trove of concert photos, behind-the-scenes images of current Flaming Lips projects, rare band pictures and posters from their 30 year career, shots with other musicians (Patrick Carney, Kesha, Jack White, Kevin Parker, etc), weird art, playful selfies and random scenes from his daily life.
The social media site clearly prohibits “sexually suggestive photos,” but doesn’t define the boundaries. Are the nudes in his comic book The Sun Is Sick too “suggestive” for Instagram? What about a painting of an alien giving birth, or a nude statue?
“I forget that a statue of a naked woman looks a lot like an actual naked woman to someone on Instagram,” Coyne told MTV News. “I totally understand that Instagram has their rules and they don’t want everything to be just a wide-open thing.”
Wayne sees his account as being more vulnerable to censorship than both accounts with few followers and mega-stars with massive followings. “You can almost do anything you want if no one follows you,” he told Stereogum a month after his original account was deleted, “but if you have a lot of followers, you can’t really do as much as you want until you get to where you have like a billion followers. The middle class man is always having problems. But yes, if I was like a Rihanna kind of Instagrammer, I could — and even her. I mean, you know, in her defense, I think it’s very entertaining. And I love what people say on her comment board. But yeah, I totally understand that. And I think that’s why Instagram is so popular, because it’s safe enough that every 12-year-old who’s got a computer can get on there if they want to. And that’s how you can amass 100 billion followers, and that’s what makes it so powerful and fun! But it’s got its limits, yeah. So like I said, I knew that I did those, but I had forgotten that if I did too many that got flagged in a row that they might just shut me off. And they did! But I just started up another one, and they didn’t seem to care, so I’m off and running again. I mean, I would say, I really do like it. And the same reasons that I like Twitter and the whole idea of even text messaging and stuff is that you just can get these little glimpses into what people are doing in their lives. And it just takes a moment. And when I see someone, it’s cool that you’re doing this, and that you stepped on this nail when you were in Wisconsin last week. I mean, just interesting stuff that you’d never call somebody about. It’s not remarkable, but it is the absolute boring everyday things that is our life. And I love it that way. I really have gotten to know people just from that.”
So how conservative is Instagram? It clearly depends on the user. Though they seem to be lenient with several celebrities, they were less so with the experiment tried by Jake Ingalls, Spaceface frontman and Flaming Lips touring member. “Well, my experiment did something,” he wrote on facebook on a few days after Wayne’s original boot. “Posted this on Instagram with the caption ‘Rebellious Sexedelic Instagram Post’ .. Got a shit ton of likes and then they only removed the picture – not my entire account.” It seems if he re-posted this several more times however, Instagram would delete his account:
The uproar over Wayne’s initial account deletion was partly because he had a reputation not just for NSFW pics, but also to be generous on Instagram. Being that he frequently plugged artists he came across or his collaborators, deleting Coyne’s messages wiped the slate of the attention he brought these lesser known artists. This potentially hurts them far more than the ban could impact Wayne, a well-established figure. This is why Jake was among the first to sign the petition to bring back Wayne’s account, writing:
Aside from maybe posting occasional suggestive pictures, Wayne uses this account to help out other struggling artists and musicians by keeping everyone updated on who he’s working with etc. All of his posts come only from a place of love and it makes no sense that you can’t just remove the one offensive photo, especially if you’ve given other artists said privilege. To remove his whole account seems like a move to inhibit a community of artists, rather than slap a man on the wrist..”
Moby responded to the news of the original ban by tweeting, “they kicked wayne off of instagram? wha? his pictures are amazing,” then signing the petition with the following message:
there is no place for artistic censorship in a free society. especially when the artist in question is wayne coyne.. bring back wayne’s amazing images.
“I think we all would agree that in lieu of what is considered real, horrible problems in the world, just showing pictures of people without any clothes on seems pretty silly,” Wayne suggested to MTV News. “What’s the big deal here? But that’s the world I live in and a lot of people don’t live in that world. It’s a much more conservative world.”