My take on Dee Snider, Twister Sister and why the Republican Party is (once again) the true party of rebels
I was active-duty military at 19. I took a train to meet my biological father for the first time and nervously walked into his small business. I wondered how he would react to my appearance after all these years. He was so excited to see me, that he didn’t even get out of his chair.
His words of wisdom included, “Stay in the military because you will never make anything of yourself otherwise.”
This was the advice from the gem of a father who had abandoned me at 6-months of age. He was so confident in his gene offering that he didn’t believe that I could ever accomplish anything of value on my own.
Growing up with not just one, but a string of 5 abusive fathers, Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” spoke to me like few other songs of that era could. I was the young man who rebelled against hatred. I overcame a childhood filled with rage, alcoholism, misogyny, and infidelity to walk into a life of service to God and country, devotion to one wife and family, and achieving the American dream that I had heard about but never experienced. I refused to accept the crappy deal I was handed by my parental authorities. The song told me I had the right to “choose my destiny” and “fight the powers that be” if they were wrongfully against me. It told me that I didn’t have to take it. That I didn’t have to be what those men told me I was based on how they treated me. It told me I could overcome. It was an anthem for kids like me. It was liberating.
In an article in Rocking in the Norselands titled “The Story Behind the Song”, Dee Snider explains who the song lyrics were meant for when he wrote them.
“The song itself is an all-purpose protest song that can be applied universally to anyone or any cause. As long as anyone somewhere is standing up to anyone or anything else, this song will fit their purpose. This all-purpose approach was very intentional, giving the song a timeless quality.
“”I always said that the job of the songwriting should be to create something that people can interpret and put their own situation into,” Snider told Songfacts, “and read their own concerns or passions or worries. Not to be super specific. But for the most part, songs lean towards being general, and that was always key for me with lyrical content. So with We’re Not Gonna Take It, whether I was singing about my parents, my teachers, my bosses, my peers, people around me, I felt it was important not to define it by actually naming names and singing, “Dad, you’re so trite and jaded, I hate my teachers, too.” And thus, the song has had a life in sporting events, at political rallies, at protests, pretty much anybody who’s not taking something from somebody else, they’re going to break into We’re Not Gonna Take It all over the world.”
Finding out that Dee, who by his own admission once wrote the song for all oppressed people, now only wants his song to represent a certain political narrative gave me a sense of loss and resulted in a Tweet and response that went viral. Perhaps it was naive of me. But I think the young man inside me who had played that song in his darkest hours still hoped that maybe, some things transcended political idealogy.
Rebellion comes in different forms. For some, it means crossdressing, promiscuity, and hatred of the founding principles that bind our society together. For others, it means the right to choose God’s purpose in their life and in it to find worth, meaning, success, and lasting love. I grew out of Twisted Sister a long time ago and Dee Snider’s opinion is as unimportant to me as the vitriol being spewed on my social media for the “crime” of being a Conservative Christian. But it is sad that a genre and a song that once prided themselves on inspiring young people to find their inner voice have now turned into the ludicrous authoritarian father in the Twisted Sister video, screaming at his son and his wife (the silent majority) that their point of view is irrelevant and ignorant and that they should shut up, back down, and give in.
We may not wear the hair product or the hideous makeup, but when the media, the multinationals, the government, music and art all rage against us — we, the Conservative majority, are now the ones with the greatest right to say, “We’re not gonna take it anymore.”