Heavy metal is a music for outsiders. Its brash sound repels most people in seconds. Heavy metal fans, in my experience, are often social outcasts, finding a kinship in a music that typifies their rage and repudiation. It’s soothing when you hear sounds that are angrier than you. I know this because for a large part of my life I’ve identified as a metalhead.
Often, when socially spurned, cast-offs skulk into the shadows. Refusing to take part in any issue on the public agenda is a response to the rebuff. Acceptance is found through other means, often through a blistering guitar solo or dynamic vocal delivered without judgement or ridicule. Receding to the back of the room is commonplace for the snubbed./o:p
So, it’s no surprise that “Why bother?” is a shared opinion amongst metalheads when it comes to voting. Election outcomes seem to be resultant flips of a coin with identical sides. Nobody is satisfied and the predictable agendas get wedged through while overlooking the citizenry it’s supposedly serving./o:p
But that’s a skewed view. You have to vote. Unless you’re hermetically sealed in your Mom’s basement, living amongst any population will have you engaged with it. No matter how cloistered you get, things taken for granted suddenly have direct effect when put up against it, whether it’s a neighbourhood pothole, garbage strike, holiday hours or taxes. All rules start from some council chamber or office somewhere./o:p
One can argue that metal’s brashness mirrors an inner rage often gleaned by our surroundings. There are many things that anger us, keep us outraged. We need this music to help us cope. The crossroads appear when faced with how to deal with our indignations. Turning the volume up to drown out the world around eventually deteriorates into doltish routine. Sometimes, arming yourself with the only weapon at your disposal, no matter how small, can keep you in the game and, miracle of miracles, affect goddam change.
In our supposedly civilized society, casting one’s vote is akin to drawing one’s sabre. It might seem as inconsequential as throwing a penny into a wishing well but it still has the power to deter, terrify and vault.
No matter what side of the political spectrum you sit, don’t ever feel like you’re too helpless to vote. It’s a temporary state that’s immediately vanquished when you pull out your greatest weapon against your toughest foe… and vote. Why? Because you don’t want to have what happened to my city. I’m from Toronto. Our city is clean and we’re polite. Maybe a little too polite because Toronto elected a crackhead to city council… THREE TIMES!
Rob Ford was elected mayor in 2010. Already a controversial figure at City Hall as a councillor, he nudged his way past arguably more qualified candidates in a municipal election with a 52% voter turnout. Controversy followed him during his stay. Whether it was his public drunkenness during city events, racial slurs, alleged inappropriate touching of female colleagues or cavorting with drug-dealers, he came to epitomise what happens to a constituency when 48% of the population don’t vote.
When it came to city solutions, it seemed like Ford was either drunk, on crack or both. As it happens, he was. On April 30, 2014, screen grabs from a video of Ford smoking crack hit the media. Ford was so out of it, he didn’t even notice the drug dealer filming him. Months of denying he was on the pipe, vanquished with one pic.
Last October, elections were held and, with 60% of the vote, Ford was elected again, this time as city councillor. My beloved city knowingly elected a crackhead into city council. One can say that the real reason for Ford’s rise to power can be equated to the disbelief in a political system that propagates these characters, ultimately breeding indifference. Still, as a citizen of Toronto, watching the circus unfold in front of my eyes, I can tell you every vote counts and every unused, wasted ballot counts more. Keep crackheads out of public office. Vote, and, if they’ll let you, vote again.
DANKO JONES’S FIRE MUSIC ALBUM IS OUT NOW VIA BAD TASTE/o:p