Back in 2009, when I was an impressionable, angst-fueled high school freshman who did ironic things unironically, like wear pink leopard print skinny jeans and listen to Twisted Sister, I made my mom take me to see Rock of Ages on Broadway. It was not good. Hair metal, the genre honored by the play, was not good. But ‘good’ is far from the only factor in music’s cultural significance — in 2009, Billboard also named Nickelback the group of the decade. The musical’s showstopper, ‘We’re Not Going To Take It’, has recently demonstrated this, in both vigor and vomit inducing ways.
Twisted Sister’s 1986 hit is a mind-numbing onslaught of tutorial level drum patterns and power chords, with a hook designed to be played in 30 second clips over football stadium speakers, delivered by adult men dressed like D&D kobold LARPers. Granted, that was the prevailing aesthetic of the times, and by mid-80s metrics, it’s actually a bit of a slapper. It’s also no wonder it’s taken on a second life as a politically charged protest song — its lyrics, apparently stripped from the margins of a middle schooler’s notebook, are so devoid of specificity and flavor that the song can be easily weaponized to support literally any cause.
In both 2012 and 2016, Dee Snider, the songwriter, put Paul Ryan and Donald Trump on blast for using the song in their respective campaigns. And, in 2019, Australian businessman and certified climate fucker Clive Palmer was found liable for $1.5M in damages for using the song in his nationalist political party’s media campaign. Days ago, however, this trend was reversed, when Snider publicly approved of Ukraine’s use of the song as a rallying cry against Russian invaders. With protest songs all but gagged by the modern music industry, it’s nice to see the power of familiar, melodic sounds demonstrated yet again — even if said melody is just ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ jammed out on an Epiphone Elitist in open tuning.
The song’s story doesn’t end there, though. In a show of the sort of appallingly poor taste you can only find on the blockchain, the very same day Snider expressed his support for Ukraine, Randi Zuckerberg — best known for possessing the world’s most famous strain of lizard DNA — tweeted out her own version of the song. A ‘rallying cry’, too, in fact. But not for the millions displaced by a dictator’s inferiority complex… God, no. For ‘the women of web3. Together we can accomplish anything. And have fun doing it! #WAGMI’.
The video can be viewed here, or in the original tweet, if the copyright claims kills our bootleg upload by the time we get around to sending this email out to y’all. Obviously, I, too, support women who want to find equitable economic opportunities on web3. But Randi, for fuck’s sake, this was not the way to show it. The broad slapstick comedy of the OG Twisted Sister MTV hit has been replaced by Kendall-Jenner-Pepsi-commercial level acting. And the lyrics have been rewritten to force a 3000-calorie helping of crypto acronyms and slang down our throats, culminating in the new chorus: ‘We’re all going to make it’, or, yeah, #WAGMI.
It is, in short, bad. Not not good. Not so bad it’s good. It is bad. So bad, in fact, it gave me mild gastrointestinal distress upon the repeat viewings I’m obligated to do to bring y’all this hard-hitting news. As an apparently Ukrainian Twitter commenter put it, ‘I’m in a bunker, and this just made my day worse’. But worst of all, I soon realized #WAGMI was the ultimate repeat viewing for me. Because Randi Zuckerberg, turns out, is also a Broadway performer. The one who sang the same song in the original production of Rock of Ages I saw back in 2009.
I should’ve known. History repeats itself. It’s being proved out on a geopolitical scale, and in the annals of my Internet search history. More on the former in a moment, but we wanted to keep it as light as possible for as long as possible today. That’s what music’s for, after all. Bringing us together to laugh, fuck, and fight when the whole world’s trying to stop us.
(Actually, scratch that middle one. If Twisted Sister’s on your sex playlist, you are twisted, sis, indeed.)