What About Us

Album: Greatest Fits (2001)
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Songfacts®:

  • Ministry wrote this for the 2001 Steven Spielberg movie A.I., where the band performed it in the "Flesh Fair" scene. Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen came up with the lyrics to go along with the theme of the movie, which is the conflict between robots and humans; the humans mantra is "What About Us?" and they proceed to rip apart the robots at the Flesh Fair.

    Ministry was the first real band Spielberg used in one of his movies, and for a while, it looked like the industrial rockers and the legendary director were not going to get along. In a 2012 Songfacts interview with Al Jourgensen, he explained: "We were on set for three days; I saw Spielberg while we were onstage and we were doing rehearsals, but we didn't meet, so they set up a meeting with Spielberg, his handler, and the whole band. And it was kind of like meeting the queen. You couldn't talk to him, you couldn't look him in the face unless he talked to you. I was at the end of the line of the fans, and he got down to me, and I just blew off all the protocol, and I told him, 'Hey, Steve, baby, what's the deal? I thought 'A.I.' stood for Anal Intruder and this was supposed to be a porno film.' I told him that. 'This man's gotta walk. We're quitting today.' I was kidding. Just break the ice. But his handler freaked out and Spielberg took it personally and I had to chase him down in all my costuming and all this crap that I was wearing and just go, 'Look, I was just kidding! Just relax!' They were so uptight about it.

    After that, every day on the set, Spielberg would come up and name a new moniker for A.I. Like, I think his first one was 'Animal Indecency.' So every day he'd come up and he'd name a new porn title. And then he finally started wearing my cowboy hat and started jamming with us on stage. So I love Steven, man, he's great. But we had kind of an auspicious start."
  • Stanley Kubrick was the original director for A.I., but when he died, Spielberg took it over. It was Kubrick who asked Ministry to write the song and perform in the film. "That was all initiated by Stanley Kubrick who called me up out of the blue and said he was a big fan and he had this screenplay that he sent me and he wanted us to be the band and to write the music for it," said Jourgensen. "I hung up on him. I thought it was a crank call. His secretary was calling and I was like, 'Yeah, right.' Click. And then he called back personally and then talked to me, and I was just freaked out. I mean, who wouldn't be freaked out? Here's this eccentric American God living in the countryside of England, and he's calling me up in Austin, Texas, and saying he wants me to do the music for his film and he wants me to be in his film and he's famous and all that. I didn't even believe it."
  • The robotic teddy bear plays a big role in Flesh Fair scene were Ministry performed this song in A.I., but it wasn't so cute when it was holding up production. Said Jourgensen: "I wound up getting stuck with this f--king electronic teddy bear that was on the set the whole time that was breaking down. So it took us like three weeks to film our part because the bear broke down every f--king day. (Laughing) We'd be sitting there on stage and you hear walkie talkies going on all over the place going, 'The bear is down! The bear is down!' So then we'd hit the commissary and just drink beers and get drunk and wait for the bear to get back up. And then you'd hear walkie talkies going, 'The bear is up! The bear is up! Everyone back on set!' So we'd have to run back on set in our costumes. And this f--king bear... seriously, I would like to buy it at auction just so I could put it in my firepot and burn it once and for all. This thing was a nightmare that bear. I hated that bear."
  • This doesn't appear on the A.I. soundtrack, where it would have clashed with the John Williams and David Foster pieces from the score.

Comments: 2

  • John from Levittown, NyThe contrast between their first album, With Sympathy and their later work is huge. They were originally a synthpop unit along the lines of Depeche Mode.
  • Ian from New York, NyWow i didn't know they had any Ministry on this site.
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