One day when I was staying home sick from school, a baby-sitter brought in a CD of Twisted Sister's Stay Hungry to keep me entertained. There were only two great songs, but it was still a lot to take in for a boy who only associated the 1980s with Billy Joel and Weird Al.
This was before "We're Not Gonna Take It" was included in Rock of Ages:
Featured on The Glee Project:
Re-written as "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" for A Twisted Christmas:
Included on Kidz Bop 80s' Gold:
And finally, employed by Paul Ryan for his campaign rallies:
To the surprise of no one, Dee Snider sent in a cease and desist. The current top comment on YouTube for "We're Not Gonna Take It" imagines Ryan as the music video's authoritarian (played by Mark Metcalf, Animal House's Neidermeyer) getting his ass kicked by the band.
Can this song take it anymore? Like "My Generation" or "Jailhouse Rock," what was once an anthem of rebellion is now safe enough to be performed on an Oxygen reality show.
My answer is that yes, this is still a rebel song. People who will never hear of Black Flag need their belligerence odes just as much as those of us who pretend we're too enlightened listen to Taylor Swift. In separate contexts, "We're Not Gonna Take It" works just as well as "Rise Above," and is just as necessary.
For much of the world, which includes people who don't spend 95% of their days thinking about music, "We're Not Gonna Take It" is as revolutionary as Che Guevara. Dee Snider hopes that the novelty of hearing Christmas carols performed by a hard rock band will sell. Paul Ryan, who apparently overlooks rock music's philosophies as well as he misses senior citizens' needs and women's rights, hopes this song will paint him as an iconoclast. Rock of Ages even gets it wrong by selecting "We're Not Gonna Take It" as the religious right's anthem while the "rock" fans get stuck with "We Built this City." Maybe there are some things that Twisted Sister is still too cool for.