Pioneering rockers who have always stood up and fought with the oppressed are doing exactly what they’ve always done, but this time for the Black Lives Matter movement. Yet some fans are confused by these artists’ seemingly progressive outcries.
Black Sabbath helped create metal music and is still responsible for the constant evolution and forming of the genre today. You can’t be a metalhead and not have had at least a minor Sabbath phase.
Black Sabbath, “War Pigs”
The thing about Sabbath is that they are an extremely progressive band who have always sung about government injustice. They grew up in working-class families in the very diverse city of Birmingham, England. Top tracks from Sabbath, like “War Pigs,” “Children Of The Grave,” and “Into The Void” are very obviously reformist in their lyrics.
So why are longtime fans of Black Sabbath acting so surprised by their stance on Black Lives Matter?
After the band posted a new shirt in their signature font that read “Black Lives Matter” (with all proceeds being donated to the BLM organization), it revealed many of their fans are actually against the movement. Several commenters even begged them to “stay neutral” or apolitical—which is an absurd thing to say to a group who has always been active in working-class revolutions.
The Facebook comment section is always a field day for extreme right-wing internet trolls. So it’s no surprise Sabbath’s post about the new shirt was flooded with “longtime” fans expressing disappointment with the group’s stance.
Many commenters simply seemed confused and posted “All Lives Matter.”
But true Black Sabbath fans, who have listened to, and understood the lyrics of the group, quickly swooped in to defend their favorite metal band.
Black Sabbath hasn’t been the only band to get this wave of confusion from apolitical or rightwing fans. Rage Against The Machine frontman Tom Morello received an outpour from conservative fans on Twitter when he responded to a fan tweet (now deleted) that was complaining about Morello sharing his political views.
As a well-known activist who has always used his music to express his political views, again the fans, this time true Rage fans came to the rescue.
To borrow some lyrics from one of your early contemporaries:
He's the one
Who likes all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he knows not what it means
Knows not what it means
— Creddy (@ChrisMReddy) June 9, 2020
The people angrily denouncing Rage Against the Machine for Tom Morello's leftist politics is one of the more hilarious things I have ever seen on the internet. WHAT MACHINE DID YOU THINK THEY HAVE BEEN RAGING AGAINST FOR DECADES? THE ICE CREAM MACHINE? THE ATM? LAWNMOWERS?
— Elisabeth Ryan JD MPH (@EJAllstonEsq) June 10, 2020
Black Sabbath and Rage Against The Machine are both pivotal bands with huge fan bases, so having mixed opinions and also ignorant fans within their mix is not too surprising. But it just makes you wonder, who’s next? Are bands like Anti-Flag or of Against Me!, who have based their entire musical careers on being overtly political, next? What fan is going to be the one to say “Fuck Police Brutality” is not actually a political song? Even Bob Dylan, another pioneering artist known to be overtly liberal, seems to have fans fighting about politics in his comments.
Clearly it doesn’t matter if you’ve been political for decades—confusion, ignorance, and downright stupidity will always make their way into the comments.