On the eve of this brave new era of rampant corruption and idiot plutocrats run amok, there are many folks who are saying, “Hey, at least punk will be good again.” A wonderful consolation prize, the thought of poor, atrophied protest music putting on some muscle again. Never mind your neighbor next door, counting out the few life-saving pills they have left before their final insured prescription runs out: You’ve got a sweet new Woody Guthrie covers album to enjoy! Think of all the great riot grrl shows that will happen to raise funds for banned contraceptives and building D.I.Y.
Here’s a news flash, all you bleeding heart saps getting a hard-on for a Desaparecidos & Tom Morello collab: The Orange Antichrist will not make punk great again. The election of Satan’s Merkin will make punk music worse.
Pop quiz: Do you consider Green Day’s American Idiot to be a stirring indictment of the Bush
When most artists talk about going "political," they're talking about making Big Statements. Masterful meldings of sonic innovation and thoughtful lyrics, like Gang of Four's Entertainment, aren't held up as the gold standard; in the eyes and ears of most pop listeners, going political means shitting out "Bonzo Goes To Bitburg" and calling it a day. We're living in an age where Big Statements aren't going to do much
Ask yourself this: Why weren't all the "make punk great again" people calling out for this stuff over the last eight years? Was it because we had a cool president in office, one who likes Kendrick Lamar as much as you do, our nation's Spotify Playlist Commander-in-Chief? Make no mistake: the Obamas were pretty chill. I'd have them over for dinner. But it doesn't change the fact that during his time in office Cool Guy Barry whiffed at closing Gitmo, vastly expanded the executive branch's powers, and made it rain drone bombs across the globe.
Will there be some great, lasting art made during these next four years? Of course. It'll be buried under all the simplistic, loud, well-meaning Big Statements littering the cultural landscape, but they'll be there. But none of that art will change the reality we're all coming to grips with - that we're now under the influence of a man who doesn't read books, who shits in a golden toilet, and who doesn't even have the good sense to use his vast wealth to get a halfway decent tailor.
When people like Amanda Palmer talk about all the great art made in Weimar Berlin as the Nazis came into power, they don't talk about what happened to all those wonderful, decadent artists afterward. How many of those Weimar artists would have traded in their art for not having to flee their country
Talk about the power of art all you want, but a great album won't bring your Syrian friend back when they get carted away, it won't knock a border wall down, and it won't keep your sister from being charged with murder for getting an abortion once Roe V. Wade gets shoved down a flight of stairs. I don't know about you, but I'd gladly trade a million new great records to get rid of the lingering terror I feel every morning now that King Fuckboy will see an unflattering Instagram pic of himself and launch a nuclear holocaust upon the Earth in retaliation.