By Lance Brock
All right, so by now, everyone knows what happened on election day. We try to avoid getting too political here because we know that people really just want to read about music. We take it seriously, though: if there’s some band with a fucked up message or bad attitude, we want people to know about it. If you think that’s political, it’s not, it’s just being a good citizen.
Now don’t get me wrong, we have fun too. I’m sure a lot of people figured out by now that Nikki’s article about Euronymous was a joke. But this subject is just one thing that we can’t joke about because it’s too important.
The three of us had a long talk about it and we knew that we owed it to our readers to say something about this whole election thing. We’ve been pretty quiet since the summer since we all put in a lot of time working on the Clinton/Kaine campaign and there just wasn’t much time for music. Nikki got out the vote in the Pacific northwest (she’s asked me not to say where specifically), the Void traveled all across the Bay Area, and I tried to get some work done in Milwaukee. The day after, we got on Skype and talked about what the future meant for us and for the world.
Probably the biggest question we were asking ourselves was who should write the inevitable article. To me, the Void seemed like the obvious choice since she’s the editor and a queer femme POC, which means her perspective is probably the most relevant. But then I thought about Nikki and how excited she was about one of her lifelong personal heroes — she was born in the early 90s and Hillary Clinton was the first First Lady she knew and grew up with — finally getting the chance to be president and breaking down all the barriers that are left in the world.
But then we started talking about all the news stories about how white men got Trump elected and it was the racism and misogyny of the white guys who kept down women and minority votes. And then we realized something: out of the three of us, I’m the only one who lives in a state that voted for Trump. I feel like a personal failure for not doing better and not doing more when it comes to getting out the vote. So I said I would write the article as my apology to them, our readers, the real Americans, and the rest of the world.
So I guess let me get this out of the way first and just say “I’m sorry.” I should have been more involved, I should have been more aware, I should have done all sorts of shit I didn’t do because it was too hard or would take too long or whatever. I didn’t have to go to Thailand for a week of mountain climbing and authentic eastern cuisine in the middle of the most important election in the history of America. I could have skipped all the Nails shows I went to. But it just seemed like one of those things where it was like “oh you know, I can do that later, no big deal.”
I started thinking about it a little bit more and I finally understood why this happened and it all started to make sense. We know white guys voted for Trump by some stupid margin, right? Well, who are metal fans by a stupid margin? White guys. Logically, that means metalheads are responsible for this. Now I know that not all white guys listen to metal, but let’s be real about it, there’s just no way that the two aren’t related.
Metal bands like Disturbed, Deftones, and Killswitch Engage sold hundreds of thousands of albums so far this year. You think those people aren’t white? You think they don’t vote? Think again.
So really there are two issues here. The first is that metalheads don’t vote for the right fucking people and the second is that metal bands aren’t taking full advantage of their ability to speak to their audience. You might have heard stories about people like Beyonce and Jay-Z and Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen coming out in support of Hillary Clinton and I bet that message reached their fans and those voters. You may not like that kind of music but it’s obvious they’re more effective at getting out the vote than metal bands are.
Which is why the solution to prevent this sort of thing is pretty simple: metal bands just need to get more political. Nevermind this stupid nonpartisan, bipartisan, what the fuck ever partisan shit from when I was a kid where people just said “oh you gotta go vote, it’s important!” That’s not enough information, they need to tell people who to vote for. Not only that, we have proof that it’s what people want to hear. Otherwise, why would everyone else do it?
I think the best model for how successful this can be is comedy. Look at the Daily Show, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, Saturday Night Live, Amy Schumer, Seth Myers, etc. They don’t fuck around. They tell you straight up what’s right and what’s wrong. They don’t do “fair and balanced” or “equal time” or whatever. People don’t have the mental bandwidth for that. And I can tell you that as comedy has become more issue-driven and more political, it’s just gotten better and smarter and more engaging. It is the best it has ever been. It’s at its height as an artform. Clinton lost the electoral vote, but she won the popular vote, and nobody can tell me that all those people and shows didn’t have something to do with her doing as well as she did.
So metal, it’s up to you. You’ve got to fix this and make it right. Metal bands can’t sing about forests and zombies and other trivial shit anymore, they have to do better about talking about things that really matter: privilege, patriarchy, capitalism, social justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, and other subjects. Because if not, we’re just going to keep getting politicians who sound like Varg.