The album "Liebe ist Für Alle Da" ("Love is For All") by German hard rock group Rammstein - currently at No. 2 on Billboard's European Albums Chart - has been banned from public display in German stores with effect from Nov. 11 on account of its depictions of sadism/masochism, which have been deemed to be harmful to children and young people.
Announcing this ruling, Petra Meier, the deputy president of the Federal Office for the Examination of Media Harmful to Young People, cited the track "Ich tue Dir Weh" ("I Want to Hurt You") as well as the artwork showing guitarist Richard Kruspe with a masked, naked woman on his knees. The Federal Office objected to the fact that the track includes lines such as "Bites, kicks, heavy blows, nails, pincers, blunt saws - Tell me what you want."
The German Federal Office for the Examination of Media Harmful to Young People in Bonn also criticized the single "Pussy," stating that it incites listeners to engage in unprotected sexual intercourse despite the risk of AIDS, although the single was not officially part of the ruling banning the album.
As a result of the ruling, the 11-track Universal album may no longer be advertised or placed on open exhibition in such a way that may be accessed by young people and children under the age of 18 years.
"The ruling will be officially published on Wednesday," said Meier. "Up until then, the album may continue to be retailed. The decision was made in accordance with Section 18 of the Youth Protection Act." According to the statistics of the office, 131 albums had been placed on the restricted list in 2007 and 116 last year, while as many as 966 have been put on the list so far this year.
She attributes this sharp increase to the fact that more and more records are being released with content which glorifies violence or is of a racist or pornographic nature, thus breaching the provisions of the German Youth Protection Act. This is the first time that an album by Rammstein has been placed on the restricted list.
The album, released Oct. 10, topped Billboard's European albums survey on Oct. 29 and has become a big seller globally. In Germany, it hit No. 1 on sales of over 200,000 units, going platinum in the process. In the United States, it entered the Billboard charts at No. 13 and it made No. 16 in the U.K. on Oct. 25.
The album also shot straight to the top of the charts in Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Finland and the Netherlands. It made No. 2 in France, No. 3 in Sweden and Belgium, No. 4 in Portugal, No. 14 in Italy and No. 18 in New Zealand. In has gone platinum in Austria and Finland and gold in France, Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic and Belgium.
The video for "Pussy" has also caused some commotion as it shows what appear to be members of the band participating in sex scenes, although sources close to the band insist that the band members were doubled.
In a declaration on their Facebook site, Rammstein write: "The new Rammstein album has been placed on the restricted list at the instigation of the Ministry of Family Affairs led by Minister Mrs. Ursula von der Leyen. This means that the album is now only available under the counter. If you want to buy the album, make sure that you take proof of your age with you when you go to the retailer of your trust."
Since launching their career in Berlin in 1995, Rammstein have repeatedly courted controversy with their eight albums, which have touched on such subjects as sadomasochism, homosexuality, incest, abuse, necrophilia, pyromania, cannibalism and sexual violence. The group line-up has remained unchanged since 1995, comprising lead singer Till Lindemann, who writes many of the lyrics, Richard Zven Kruspe (lead guitar), Paul H. Landers (rhythm guitar), Oliver Riedel (bass), Christoph "Doom" Schneider (percussion) and Christian "Flake" Lorenz (keyboards). The Berlin-based band refers to their style as "dance metal," a combination of metal, hard and industrial rock.
According to the band's management, the planned winter tour comprising over 50 concerts in 27 European countries has already sold out. Since 1995, Rammstein has played over 450 concerts in more than 35 countries including successful tours of South, Central and North America.
Live performances of the song "Ich tue Dir weh" has also been banned in Germany under the same ruling, and any violation could potentially be punished under German law.
Says purchaser Yannik Hobe of MediMax in Schenefeld, "The album has been selling well so far. However, I personally think that it is appropriate for the CD to be placed on the restricted list. I don't think the lyrics are acceptable and are certainly not suitable for children. I assume that we will stop stocking the album altogether."
Department head Jörg Jäger of the Pressezentrum retail store in Lübeck does not think that the ban will have much effect. "The album will sell even better than before," he says. "We are not taking the album out of stock. From Wednesday, we will be selling it under the counter and will require customers to produce proof of their age. All it means is that the 18-year-old will buy it for his younger sister."
Says Konrad Reiter of Media Markt Chain in Munich, "The Rammstein album has been selling well here but we will no longer be stocking it as of Wednesday."
The Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons (Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien or BPjM)is an official administrative authority of the German government. Their task is to protect children and adolescents in Germany from any media which might contain harmful or dangerous contents. This work is authorized by the "Youth Protection Law."
The BPjM can only act on the request of other administrative institutions, not by itself. The German Youth Welfare Departments, among others, can file a complaint against an object. Once an official request has been filed, the BPjM is obliged to act.
The contentious material is examined by a board of 12 representatives consisting of eight different social organizations (such as the artistic and literary community, entertainment industry, youth welfare, teachers, religious groups), three representatives of the federal states as well as the chairwoman of the BPjM. If the board, with a majority of two thirds of the members, decides that the object has a content dangerous for young people, it enters its name into the "list of youth-endangering media", generally referred to as the "index."
Distributors of that medium are then no longer permitted to sell, rent out or even present this object in public or to broadcast it to young people. The same goes for advertising for this object. Violations of these restrictions will be punished under German jurisdiction.
There are no official statements from Rammstein's record company Universal in Berlin or Rammstein's band members.