Green Day fans have shared their reactions to the use of American Idiot by supporters of the outgoing US president, Donald Trump, who leaves office today (20 January.)
Several TikTok users have posted the song alongside a pro-Trump interpretation of the lyrics. A notable example comes from TikTok user @ckettle_3, who posted a video lip-synching to the song, captioned with “Green Day knew it all along, since 2004!”
Relaying her reading of the lyrics in text overlays, @ckettle_3 responded to the lyric “don’t want to be an American Idiot,” with “that’s why I voted for Trump,” and “one nation controlled by the media” with a list of mainstream US outlets: CNN, MSNBC, ABC and Fox. The “new kind of tension” Green Day’s song describes is simply equated to “socialism.”
The album of the same name that American Idiot hails from was released in 2004, an era defined by the fallout from 9/11, the division in western politics stoked by the Iraq war and the policies of the Republic president at the time, George W. Bush. It’s hard to imagine that the lyric “a new kind of tension,” refers to the policies of Democratic candidates, rather than the tumult the USA was experiencing at the time.
@ckettle_3 also draws a link between the lyric “information age of hysteria” and political liberals “hearing only what’s on their agenda.” However the “hysteria” referred to here is perhaps more likely referencing the increasingly sensationalist and violent portrayal of world events, at least as perceived by the band – singer Billie Joe Armstrong described in an interview with Alternative Press at the time his struggle to keep his son away from the violent images prevalent on TV at the time as 9/11 and the Iraq War continued to dominate the news. In 2005, journalist Alan DiPerna also described American Idiot as drawing a “causal connection between contemporary American social dysfunction … and the Bush ascendancy.”
Green Day fans have been quick to point out the irony in the song being repurposed as a republican anthem, with one framing @ckettle_3’s original video with footage of Green Day chanting the phrase “no Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” at a performance, and others captioning other Trump-supporting interpretations of the song with similar nods to the album’s context and the band’s actual political views.
User @hooplaaaa also framed another clip from the song, arguing that “Republicans [are] really skipping over this part,” referring to the lyrics about not being part of a “redneck agenda.”
More recently, Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong also criticised Donald Trump’s response to his loss in the recent election: “I think it’s inevitable that Trump has to leave, but he’s holding half of the country hostage,” he told NME. “I can’t figure out which side – whether it’s the people that support him or the people that hate him? It’s a waiting game at this point to get him out, then the temperature will lower a little bit more.”
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