In this day and age of memes and knee-jerk politics, it’s easy to get caught up in all the hoopla. We were subjected to those on the right ridiculing Obama’s every move for 8 years of Obama. We now have Trump who isn’t even a year in and everyone on the left calling him a fascist xenophobe (among other names). My goal with this post isn’t to argue politics, but attempt to understand (with your help) when punk/metal became pro-left (typically Democrat) and anti-right (typically Republican).
The 80’s are sometimes referred to the “Reagan Era” given that Ronald Reagan was President from 1981 – 89. During this ‘era’, we had thrash metal take off, crossover (D.R.I., Suicidal Tendencies, etc.) blending thrash (Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, etc.) and death metal (Death, Obituary, Morbid Angel), and we also had the explosion of hair metal (Motley Crüe, Ratt, Cinderella, etc.). Many claimed this era of ‘it’s all about me’ gave way to the excesses of the 80’s. Bands were known to party excessively, degrade women, and drink/inhale anything that came their way. This attitude wasn’t limited to bands. The rise of cocaine helped usher in an era of a drug use unheard of in previous years. Cocaine for the rich and crack for the poor. Everyone was addicted. The Cold War was over and the Iran-Contra affair was just getting started.
After that was Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama. During all of those eras, drugs were still an issue, wars continued (yes even under Obama), and scandals rocked every administration. One could argue since Reagan (and the end of the Carter administration), things have been one giant mess that we can’t seem to pull ourselves out of no matter which party is in power.
What does all of this mean? Without getting into the nuances of each administration, it’s safe to say drug use, war, and corruption has ebbed and flowed for over three decades. However, even when you look at the big picture, a lot of punk and metal music is typically pro-left and anti-right.
To me, punk and metal was always against the establishment regardless of which party was in control. Any one person or group of people arrogant enough to think they know what’s best for 350 million people doesn’t register with my way of thinking. Bands such as Sex Pistols, The Exploited, and Dead Kennedys some of the original punk bands who were nothing more than pissed off youth who had no other voice.
When thrash took off in the 80’s, bands like Megadeth, Metallica, and Iron Maiden all had anti-establishment bends in their songs. Like punk, the lyrics didn’t typically lean one way or another.
Today, bands like NOFX, Anti-Flag, Against Me!, and many others are outright left-leaning and make no bones about it. I think this type of attitude would have made more sense in the 80’s due to the majority of the right being judgmental Christians. The more open-minded right is typically welcoming of those who are gay or live an alternative lifestyle. Bands like Megadeth, Metallica, and Ted Nugent (obviously) lean right.
This leads us to the question: when did punk/metal start to lean left, or has it always been that way I’m just now noticing?