[This is a translation of an article originally written in Dutch and first published on the 3th of April 2019]
Rammstein hadn’t released something new in quite a while and the band members felt it was time to prove their relevance. A band that pushes itself to the foreground with impressive visuals and confrontational content can’t come across as a bunch of has-beens who aspire to make some quick money before they are irreversibly banned to the nostalgia circuit. Well, Rammstein has achieved that goal.
The new single, ‘Deutschland’ is a slap in the face of all those who feel music should serve sickly sweet lullabies about romantic issues or, in other words, of all fans of boys bands alike. The accompanying clip is a kick in the testicles of all those who feel artists are entertainers of the masses who shouldn’t interfere in real debates.
The clip has already resulted in a lot of protest, but that seems to be its purpose in the first place. It’s a rejection of the new nationalism by a bunch who experienced the misery an authoritarian state can cause while they were young kids in the DDR. It’s a rejection of a manipulative myth that has caused the deaths of millions throughout the ages. It’s a statement that will hopefully stimulate a lot of their fans, who don’t all share the reputation of subtle intellectuals, to some thinking of their own.But above all, it’s a refined piece of art that leaves the average American movie lingering far behind. Now we just have to wait to which degree the clip will survive the growing fad of censorship. After all, according to the newest standards of political correctness, it’s no longer allowed in countries like the US to say or to show anything that might upset someone.
Each frame of the clip undermines the basic notions of German nationalism, but not with the slogans of most Antifa-demonstrators or the often too dull comments of a historian with an academic title. It’s a chain of images that allow the viewer to come to his own conclusions. The only condition is that the viewer thinks for himself, but according to me, that’s actually the only thing Rammstein really wants to achieve.
The starting point of the flimsy story throughout the clip is that Germans allow themselves to be led by their own aggressive tendencies. It doesn’t really matter who the real or perceived opponent is, be it a real invasion by Roman legionnaires or the perceived threat posed by a Jewish minority. All of them will be confronted with the blind propensity to violence which forms an inseparable part of the nature of this people. The only Germans the viewer sees, are focused on conflict, wherever, whenever and with whomever. An army looking for a people, a fist looking for a face.
Throughout the clip, however, it becomes painfully clear the Germans themselves become the victims of the conflicts they enter with all this enthusiasm and conviction. The boxer gets punched, the gangster is kicked by his gaolers, the knights end up riddled with arrows and the guards in a concentration camp are executed. More than their opponents, it’s always the Germans who end up bleeding on the ground, spurred by an aggression that eventually leads to their downfall.
The Germans allow themselves to be carried away by a goddess that doesn’t really fit the popular image. In this clip, Germania isn’t a Aryan of pure blood, but a jet black female warrior. There literally isn’t a square inch of her body that resembles a Viking or a Teutonic knight. The nationalists don’t even realize who they’re actually following and the bloodthirsty Germania laughs intensely while chopping off a few more Caucasian heads. Those who honour her, don’t serve the people, but the inherent sadism of an idea that requires human suffering to survive.
The most important point, however, is that the band members play both the perpetrators and the victims in this clip. They’re not just doing this because it’s their song and subsequently their clip, but most of all to denounce the susceptibility of all Germans for manipulations in the name of their destructive idol. They are not cool observers come to tell us all how wrong the actions of other people can be. They are emotionally involved and torn participants in a history that keeps repeating itself.
I leave those who find bands should never be controversial with an excerpt from a song written by Sting which reached the top of the charts in both the UK and the US:
Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you
Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I'll be watching you
These days, that’s called stalking and obsessive jealousy, but apparently these words written by Rammstein are worse:
Deutschland, mein Herz in Flammen
Will dich lieben und verdammen
Deutschland, dein Atem kalt
So jung, und doch so alt
Deutschland, deine Liebe
Ist Fluch und Segen
Deutschland, meine Liebe
Kann ich dir nicht geben
let’s all do the homework Rammstein has given us and start to think for ourselves.