German Band OOMPH! 'Censored' Over 'God Is A Popstar' Song

According to a posting on OOMPH!'s official web site, the long-running German band are experiencing an unprecedented round of censorship with their current single, "Gott ist ein Popstar" ("God Is A Popstar"). After receiving firm confirmation two weeks ago for an appearance at this year's ECHO awards (Germany's "Grammy" equivalent), including completed planning for an elaborate stage set, the unexpected cancellation arrived last week. The organizers suddenly no longer saw themselves in a position to be able to uphold their confirmation amidst the current climate of international religious discussions (keyword: Mohammed caricatures). The decision-makers invoked their moral and socio-political responsibility as grounds for the cancellation. Even a renewed attempt to meet the organizers halfway in the form of a performance in English was rejected. Similar reasons have been given by many broadcasters on the current radio landscape. Up until now, "Gott ist ein Popstar" has been in rotation on a limited number of private radio stations.

OOMPH!'s explanation that "Gott ist ein Popstar" is not just a work critical of organized religion, but equally critical of society itself and a response to the commercialization of religion and the deification of today's casting shows has as yet proved insufficient substantiation for the valuable right to artistic freedom and the freedom of opinion. "As varied as the subject of 'deification' (regardless of at the religious, societal or political level) itself is, the concept behind this song is just as varied," the band write in a statement. "On one hand, we wanted to raise the hackles of a virtually sheep-like fan culture, while also satirizing the 'new gods' of the casting show candidates. They often present themselves in a godlike way without ever having written a single lyric of their own — not to mention a single note. Then gradually the component that's critical of the church overall increasingly became the focus because we also wanted to expose the underbelly of the accepted image that it maintains. Finally, the perverse marketing of the 'Pope-hype' provided the cherry on top..."

OOMPH! singer Dero, an acknowledged agnostic, sees neither an insult to Christians nor blasphemy in "Gott ist ein Popstar". He stresses that OOMPH! as a band respects every form of religion.

"We in the West demand on the one hand a more relaxed attitude toward critical views from followers of other religions," he said. "On the other hand, right here and right now in our own country we're confronted with a posture that contradicts this completely."

Two years ago, the trio OOMPH! from Braunschweig with a 16-year history and a reputation as a renowned electro-rock band, were awarded gold and platinum plaques for their No. 1 hit "Augen Auf" ("Eyes Open") and their album "Wahrheit oder Pflicht" ("Truth Or Duty"), in addition to winning a highly coveted German radio prize.



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