On the last weekend of August 2022, Die Ärzte ended their Berlin tour with an almost hat-trick: three concerts at the former Tempelhof Airport were planned (and sold out), two took place. Due to a storm warning, the first concert on Friday had to be canceled at short notice. This did not detract from the atmosphere on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, for example, Die Ärzte opened in late summer sunshine with their song “Der Himmel ist blau” and played their way back and forth through their expansive repertoire over the next two hours and 45 minutes. Hits like “Deine Schuld”, “Hurra”, “Schunder-Song”, “Schrei nach Liebe” and “Junge” were not missing. However, they left out a certain former classic from their catalog: After a fan loudly wished for “Elke”, Farin Urlaub explained: “No, people. ‘Elke’ is fatshaming and misogynous. We don’t play that anymore, that’s the last millennium.”
As a reminder: “Elke” was released in 1988 on the Die-Ärzte album THIS IS NOT THE WHOLE TRUTH…. The song is about a fictional love story between Farin Urlaub and an overweight fan. It says, among other things:
“We met alone at her house
She looked much, much fatter than in the photo
I hugged her, which means I tried
I fell into her fatty tissue like a ravine
She’s a real hunk, three meters cubic, wah!
It looks like turkey breast with cucumber in aspic”
So when Farin Urlaub says today, 34 years later, that “Elke” is fatshaming and misogynistic, i.e. that one upholds bullying of people who are so-called overweight and misogyny, he is of course right. Just because it used to be okay to make fun of fat people (looking at you, Westernhagen), it doesn’t and shouldn’t be anymore. And even if fans of the song claim that they don’t really have anything against overweight people or even know anyone who finds “Elke” funny, they should realize that other people affected could feel discriminated against by those lines. It’s called progress. Of course, this is by no means about cancel culture: firstly, the song is not banned and is still available, it’s like “Layla”, you can continue partying at home or at your own parties, if you want, secondly, this decision is a matter of fact to that of the author personally. And fortunately he has enough other, funnier aces up his sleeve that have aged better than “Elke”. Apart from such other, well, difficult songs like “Geschwisterliebe” and “Claudia”.
Incidentally, “Elke” is not the only song from their back catalog that no longer appears in any setlist. As early as 2003, drummer and singer Bela B declared that Die Ärzte would never again play their biggest commercial hit “Men are Pigs” live. As a reason, the band has repeatedly given its appropriation of Ballermann, village festival and après-ski audiences, who would not have understood the actual meaning of the song.
PS: You can listen to what the doctors themselves have to say about youthful sins or the accusation of misogyny in some of their texts in an episode of the Radio Eins podcast “Die Eine Liebe”:
By the way, the Berlin tour of Die Ärzte is not quite over yet: On September 6th, the concert in the “Metropol” will be rescheduled, which could not take place as planned on May 20th due to the illness of a band member. Parallel to this are The doctors also on the “Buffalo Bill in Rome” tour.