An old punk band hit is considered offensive

Artistic freedom and the spirit of the times
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Should doctors keep playing “Elke”?

In the 1980s, the offensive song about the love of a fat woman was a hit. Doctor fans still want to hear it at concerts. But it seems they have lost their joy in it. What does this have to do with self-censorship? And what does not.

This rock song speeds up in a fairly short amount of time, is great to sing along with, and has ironic lyrics that were provocative over 30 years ago. No wonder that Die Ęrzte’s “Elke” became a hit in the late 1980s and is still popular today. But Die Ęrzte did not play this song at the concert in Berlin on Sunday. When fans called for a song with cheers from the audience, singer Farin Urlaub said “Elke” was “fatshaming and misogynist”, they weren’t playing anything like that anymore, it was “the last millennium”. At least that’s what a guest of the concert reports on Twitter short news service – and it caused numerous reactions. Some people found the song misogynistic and offensive to obese people and thought the doctors stopped playing it on purpose. Others sense self-censorship and see provocations, even if they hurt, covered with artistic freedom – especially in a punk band.

Die Ęrzte’s Farin Urlaub often commented on “Elke” in interviews and said the song was “recreated dead” and “just performed”, unlike other songs, you can’t find a new perspective to put the song in saving the present. While the song has aged musically with its metal riffs, its lyrics are seen differently today than they were three decades ago. “Elke” is a song about a very fat woman who is described by numerous offensive attributions. When the song came out, it could be read as an ironic love song whose sarcasm is not aimed at obese people, but at romantic gibberish and what they say about women. Doctors, with their pseudo declining declaration of love for “fat Elke”, did what punks do: disregarding the rules of upbringing and polite, they excite good taste, which provokes and celebrates the fun of breaking taboos.

In this case, of course, it is not at the expense of the establishment, but at the expense of people who are, anyway, often subjected to contemptuous looks and derogatory remarks. Awareness of this has increased in recent years. Therefore, it seems that the doctors themselves do not think that the song is up to date. And of course it has nothing to do with censorship when the band for some reason decides not to release older songs. If you want, you can keep listening to the song or play it publicly. It seems, however, that the band itself wants to express themselves differently today and has the right to do so.

The fact that there is still excitement is related to the fact that once again a work of art is pleasing to some and morally reprehensible to others. There is a moral gradient that always fuels debates and makes them personal. It’s not about who you are anymore, it’s about who you are. Also, one of the attractions of the song in the 1980s was that people just roared it – despite its damaging content. For the fun of being naughty. Against. That’s why there are fat people who think he’s gorgeous, or there are women named Elke. By singing, they declare that ironic insults cannot harm them. And that they can enjoy the liberating power of breaking taboos as well as thin people.

But there are also people who react differently, there are Elkes whose song has been intimidated. Also women who report that the song was a contributing factor to anorexia. People who don’t want to hear “Elke” anymore are neither weaker nor to blame themselves, they just feel hurt by a song with hurtful lyrics, no matter what they mean. It does not matter. One can also take pleasure in what is inappropriate, especially at a time when awareness of the language increases and sometimes turns into hysteria.

Perhaps a song that was written when the issues of shame and body awareness were not yet openly discussed should just be left for its time: the past millennium.

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