The History Of Twisted Sister's We're Not Gonna Take It Explained

"We're Not Gonna Take It" is one of Twisted Sister's most recognizable songs. It was released as a single in 1984 and was also part of their third studio album titled "Stay Hungry." The band's vocalist, Dee Snider, started working on the song in 1979 and had the chorus done, but he somehow couldn't finish the verses, as reported by Norseland Rock. He was finally able to finish the song a few years later after being inspired by Def Leppard, Slade, and Alice Cooper. "I wanted to write an anthem for the audience to raise their fists in the air in righteous anger," Snider said in an interview with NPR.

When "We're Not Gonna Take It" was released, the fans loved it, but it had its share of controversies. A committee called Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) called out Twisted Sister and other artists for creating what they described as obscene and violent music. PMRC came up with a list that was called the "Filthy 15" (via Rolling Stone), which consisted of songs they deemed inappropriate, and it included Black Sabbath's "Trashed," Judas Priest's "Eat Me Alive," Prince's "Darling Nikki," and Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It," among others. As a result, a Senate hearing was held regarding the issue, and Snider testified. In the end, the solution was to place "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" labels on albums that had inappropriate content for children, but that only seemed to boost sales for records with explicit content, according to VH1.

The song as a battle cry

In an interview with Song Facts, Dee Snider stated that "We're Not Gonna Take It" wasn't written with anything specific in mind. Instead, it was something that listeners can interpret on their own and apply to a situation they were in. "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," Snider said.

And indeed, the song became a battle cry for different sporting events and political rallies. In fact, Donald Trump used the song with permission from Snider during his campaign in 2016. However, per NPR, months later, Snider saw that he didn't agree with Trump's politics, so he called him up and asked him to stop using "We're Not Gonna Take It," and he complied. The song was also used by Ukrainians in their fight against Russian invaders in 2022, and this time, Snider gave them his full support. In a tweet, Snider said, "I absolutely approve of Ukrainians using 'We're Not Gonna Take It' as their battlecry."

The backlash against Dee Snider

Dee Snider has been vocal about his thoughts on the use of "We're Not Gonna Take It" in different situations. In an NPR interview, Snider said, "I think, as a songwriter, there's no greater compliment than to have something you created become part of the fabric of not just the country — of society, of the world. And if it's a voice for the oppressed in any fashion, my job is done."

Snider, however, has received backlash and was accused of having a double standard when it comes to "We're Not Gonna Take It" being used. In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, protesters who refused to wear face masks blasted the song as they paraded in front of a Target store in Fort Lauderdale (via NJ). Snider was quick to say that he did not support the use of the song in that situation and called it "a moronic cause". Snider addressed his bashers in a tweet, answering the question regarding why he endorsed its use by the Ukrainians but not when it came to the anti-maskers. He said, "Well, one use is for a righteous battle against oppression; the other is a infantile feet stomping against an inconvenience."