Tuesday, June 18, 2013

To Laugh or to Sigh: Ministry's "From Beer to Eternity" and the Continued Decline of Dude-dustrial

What is this I don't even....

In seeing an article titled What's worse, the title of the new Ministry album or its cover art? I had not even noticed what was in the tiny thumbnail. I saw the usual slaughtering of the anarchy symbol that I often see in pop culture mixed with an upside down peace symbol (cuz, you know, anarchy is chaos, forget all those decades of resistance and liberation, I heard the Joker say anarchy was chaos so it must be true). I sighed, annoyed. I want to expect more from Ministry but honestly, I don't.

I moved on to click on the link and suddenly my screen was filled with an outbreak of machoness. Jourgensen stands wearing some sort of garb that I can't even go into because I don't know what culture it's supposed to be from. I think there's a good chance it's jacked misappropriation but I'll let it slide due to my own ignorance. If any dear readers can help, please do.

And then, you know, naked skinny white women with perfectly salon styled hair in a net held by the captor himself.

I don't even know what to do though. This is not mocking masculinity, slavery, patriarchy. It's not even possible for a satirical message to come from this. But for real, I don't know where to start in tearing it apart aside from saying, "Look, another industrial dude being a misogynist."

Where this really hurts my soul though is that it exemplifies the influence of the new black clad frat boys overtaking of our scenes. Ministry, while having faults, has never had a cover this misogynistic to my knowledge. There was "The Land of Rape and Honey" which had a history to the name, albeit not a politically advantageous one. But if you look at their Discography you will not see this kind of cheesy misogynistic garbage on their CDs. Just as :Wumpscut: did not rely on images of naked women for decades, Women and Satan First donned a few (though I think this is different than the usual. I've meant to write about it and discuss whether or not he is using non-media-normative bodies in a way that is at all helpful, or if he is just using them alongside this figure of a man for a grotesqueness factor, but I never got around to it.)

Many genres of music can look at their history and say "Look how far we've come. Women, people of color, queer folks, etc have more power now, we've learned a lot..." etc etc. But we have more and more trouble doing that as each thing like this gains more ground. This kind of shit has become worse and worse over time. We went from being ground breaking, boundary pushing, taboo freaks who listened with pain, who raised money for HIV sufferers before anyone else did, who were arrested for protesting animal testing at their shows, who demanded revolution now. Most of them are still around, but are often overshadowed by the goggle-toting popculture folks who think having women in black underwear on their covers makes them radical or counter culture, even though they look just like everyone in mainstream culture. Thank God we still have our Pandrogynes- (EDIT 2017: Please see this entry on Cosey Fanni Tutti's memoir where we discuss our newfound distaste for Genesis and sadness that we did not know about their behavior sooner. Rather than remove evidence of them from all entires, we have updated for accountability.)

To conclude this rant, I'm not sure what Ministry was thinking with this crap. But for real, it's not only bad art and stupid, it is saddening that a band that was there with us this whole ride has fallen into the same trap that so many others have. Assimilation into the mainstream. Fuck pushing boundaries, let's just do shock and awe with the same stuff you might see in on the cover of Cosmo, only we'll put some black eye liner on it.

I'm going to go with Sigh for now, because I don't have the time or energy to be as disappointed as this cover makes me think I should be.


  1. Did Al Jourgenson ever come across as particularly enlightened to you? Admittedly, he worked with members of Skinny Puppy and had a serious line in Bush Jr.-criticism (which is oh so counterculture, or at least used to be) but beyond that I felt he always appealed more to the "Bro!"-crowd than, say, Nine Inch Nails.

    1. Not necessarily but there were more interesting political undertones in older stuff. I mean looking at NWO video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPlhRmRLxeU compared to this album cover, the two don't mix.

      Even if he was never enlightened though, there is still a pattern of objectification coming out like this when it has not before, and it is happening with multiple artists that had not done it before, and many new artists becoming popular who do misogynistic stuff.

      It's just sad.

      I mean if someone like Skinny Puppy or Project Pitchfork put out something like this, I'd probably die of a broken heart. But Ministry still came from an old school where industrial covers did not look like... whatever this shit is.

    2. Well, it looks like a less homoerotic Manowar-cover and if I were worried about A.J.'s moral integrity, I would hope that he simply had an inkling of what some of his fans are like and now wants to mock it with this title and image.
      He has done some fairly interesting stuff in the past, touching on subjects that gave the listener food for thought but that was absolute ages ago.

  2. http://loudwire.com/ministry-from-beer-to-eternity-photo-shoot-exclusive-video/

    "Teaming up with photographer Allan Amato for the ‘From Beer to Eternity’ album art, Ministry recruited a gaggle of gorgeous women, only to turn them into monstrosities later on. The behind-the-scenes video begins innocently enough, but nearly a minute in, the shoot becomes disturbing as each women begins to personify each of the Seven Deadly Sins. “The Seven Deadly Sins is the intention and the women are not really women,” Ministry mastermind Al Jourgensen told us during an exclusive interview. “If you look at them, they’re not some hot models — I mean, they started out that way, but we completely mutated them just to parody the entire sexuality thing.”

    Ministry’s ‘From Beer to Eternity’ behind-the-scenes video also showcases how the album cover was created. The seven models were draped in a net in order to look caught, with Jourgensen himself acting as the captor. “I guess I’ll be taking some heat for being a misogynist by carrying seven women in a bag like they’re groupies or something,” Jourgensen tells us. “If I ever saw a groupie look like that on my bus, I guarantee my road manager would have them off the bus within a minute, so it’s not a sexual thing. [Laughs] And it’s certainly not misogynistic.” Stay tuned for our full interview with Jourgensen."