Editorial: Donald Trump’s America Has No Place For Metal
One of the common responses to Donald Trump being elected President of the United States has been, “Well, at least there’s going to be a lot of great metal and punk.” The general idea is that Trump is such a symbol of greed, forced normality, and America Like Mom Used To Make It that he will inspire ire and political dissent in the metal community similar to that inspired by Ronald Reagan, and as a result hundreds of outraged upstarts will pick up a guitar and write their own fearsome anthems of rebellion.
I wasn’t entirely sold on this idea when I first heard it, as I don’t believe there’s much merit in four years of our nation being run by people who see freedoms like the right for everyone to get married as less important than those like the right to own an assault rifle, good thrash or no. More so, I never thought the political anger of metal was something to relish or celebrate; only spoiled dickheads with no imagination dream of bad shit happening just so they have something to write about. But it wasn’t until recently, when Trump had a Twitter-tantrum about the cast of Hamilton politely expressing their trepidation about the future VP-elect Mike Pence, that I realized it was all truly bullshit.
The truth is, Donald Trump’s America, the America he’s selling us, has no place for metal. Above all else it values propriety, appearances, decorum, and the status quo — all the things that metal stands against. This dude fucking hates us.
One of President Cheeto’s favorite things to reference in his speeches is “the good old days,” a time that we all know never truly existed. And let’s be honest, he’s not talking about the Eighties, or the Seventies, he’s talking about the Fifties, one of the darkest times to be a human in American history. “The good old days” references a time when everyone wore a smile and never talked about things like feeling alone, or ugly, or dead inside, or horny for oral. These very natural emotions were stuffed down and locked up, because expressing them would suggest that you were the kind of egghead or basket case who would’ve lost us the war.
Sure, it was worse for women, ethnic minorities, and homosexuals — much, much worse — but even straight white men were victims of the good ol’ days. Want to tell your neighbor that sometimes you just feel like crying, or kicking the dog for no reason? Get ready for a lot of stink eyes at the supermarket! The good ol’ days stood against the natural shocks of humanity. They were the Everything’s Fine Dynasty that came after the worst war in human history. All that mattered was that you were rich enough to surround yourself with a cocoon of privacy, inside of which you could behave like a real person to your heart’s content.
And that’s not metal. Metal is lonely, and ugly, and horny, and above all else honest. Metal is about being as grandiose with your anger and unhappiness and morbidity as humanly possible. Where punk is about saying, “Fuck you, no,” metal is about saying, “Fuck you, here’s the opposite of what you’re doing taken to the furthest extreme.” It’s about the beast in humanity, and the beast is not ashamed of things like having weird fetishes, or finding Satan more appealing than Jesus, or smoking weed all the time. It’s about understanding that as fucked up and dark and crazy as you are, you’re not really hurting anyone, and therefore should be left alone to terrorize the villagers in your own mind with guitar solos that summon clouds of bats.
You could argue that in some ways, Trump is the beast. The whole horrible “Grab her by the pussy” thing was certainly outside of many peoples’ comfort zones, and you already have Stephen Bannon saying he wants to be like Satan or Darth Vader, which sounds pretty metal on its surface. But the issue here is context. Trump bragged he was allowed to grab women against their will, which does actually harm people, because he was famous enough to get away with it. He then made a fake-ass public apology about it (I’ve never seen anyone look so angry at having to say he was sorry). Meanwhile, Bannon might reference Satan as a role model in an interview, but one doubts he’s going to have the President make that his public platform. And lying to yourself and to the world about what you are is the least metal thing on earth.
Worst of all, what the Hamilton response taught us is that the Trump contingent sees anything other than a grinning endorsement as a vile attack, and metal’s brutal honesty will always make it a target. Some metalheads might approve of some of Trump’s policies, but his clean-cut and appearance-based world where you’re only as good as the name on the inside pocket of your blazer is easy pickings for headbangers. And once they poke fun at him or insult him, Trump will flip out and lump them in with the enemy. Wearing an inverted cross or a t-shirt depicting an unreadable logo will be considered an un-American act, and heavy metal will be the new thing keeping this country from being great again. That’s the good ol’ days talking.
Of course, Trump’s America is fine with rock stars, people like Meat Loaf or Gene Simmons, who are going to sell you the idea of a fun time as a reward for having a shitty everyday life (just like all the religions do!). For Trump, these guys are proof that even rebels know when to fall in line, and that the pursuit of the stereotypical American dream — big house, multiple cars, adjustable shower head — is the only reason to make any noise. But we all know that’s not metal. Metal is about being loud even when there’s no one around to hear you. It’s about putting out your best album seven years after the major labels stop returning your calls.
For the record, this editorial is not an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Clinton is a lot of things, but metal is not one of them. Hillary Clinton is a career politician, and as a lifestyle that calls for inhumanity. The issue with Clinton’s America is that it would see the unseemly honesty of heavy metal as offensive and steeped in biased psychology, that by enjoying imagery and ideas like, say, Baphomet biting a priest’s throat out while flanked by semi-nude dancers, you are actively promoting offensive thoughts that upset others. It’s not the good ol’ days, but the brave new world, and metal would still be an affront to it, because metal will always be an affront to anything precious and poised.
The difference, however, is that while Hillary Clinton’s America might loudly and smugly pooh-pooh metal’s hammer-smashed face, their response to it would most likely go no further than that. Donald Trump’s crew, meanwhile, wants to take action. They’re talking about forcing people to register their religion with the government, and constructing a wall, and repealing laws that protect individuals from persecution and violence. They’re throwing the fucking heil. That might be a lot of locker room talk, but it’s one Hell of a message, and its irony seems lost on a lot of his supporters.
Many of our readers seem angry that we’ve covered this election so much (ooh, you discovered his name’s actually Matthew, fucking Sherlock Holmes over here). But those who don’t know their history are doomed to get thoroughly fucked by it later, and this is a historic moment for metalheads. Metal has always stood outside of what is typical, obedient, and easily-swallowed, and those are three holy virtues of Donald Trump’s America. Don’t be fooled into thinking this will be a new era of incredible metal spurred on by someone fresh to hate. The minute this guy feels threatened by us, he’ll begin finding a way to harm us.