In an interview with the New York Times, Trent Reznor discussed what compels him to speak out on the current political climate and President Trump, and why younger pop artists shy away from taking similar public stances.
When asked if he felt a responsibility as an artist to weigh in on politics, Reznor said that for him, the need for an influential musician to speak out on injustice outweighs the impulse to protect their career. From the Times:
I was doing press with somebody in the mid-90s, and they made an argument that stayed with me: that I have influence, and that it’s my job to call out whatever needs to be called out, because there are people who feel the same way but need someone to articulate it. And I think about that today, because it seemed like it was a lot easier to just keep your mouth shut and let it go back then. You don’t hear a lot from the Taylor Swifts of the world, and top-tier, needle-moving cultural youth, because they are concerned about their brand, their demographic and their success and career and whatnot.
Swift, who started out as a country artist before crossing over as a pop star, has avoided taking public stances on most political issues. On Election Day in 2016, she posted a photo to Instagram of herself in line at her local polling station with a caption urging people to go vote. Swift herself has never disclosed who she was voting for nor spoken up about the current administration. Swift broke from her apolitical persona by publicizing that she made a donation to March for Our Lives following the Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland. It’s been theorized that Swift avoids discussing politics to avoid alienating the more conservative factions of her fanbase.
According to the Nine Inch Nails frontman, his issues with the Trump administration concern more than just partisan bickering and petty sniping across the aisle. From the Times:
I know how I feel, and I have let it get to me in ways I wish it hadn’t. My worrying about it isn’t helping anything. But what Donald Trump is doing is concerning and infuriating — and it’s not the conservative agenda, it’s not a question of religious preference, it’s not a question of should government be big or small. I don’t have any problem with those topics. But the disregard for decency and truth and civility is what’s really disheartening. It feels like a country that celebrates stupidity is really taking it up a notch.
The interview ended with a bit of levity when Reznor reflected on when he was a bored teen growing up in Bumblefuck, Pennsylvania and ended up getting intimately acquainted with Barry Manilow’s catalog after not reading the fine print on a Columbia House mailer.
“O.K., I own it. I paid a price for it. I’m going to listen the [expletive] out of this thing,” Reznor said in reference to the “Mandy” singer’s Greatest Hits album showing up in the mail. He added, “There was a time when I had ‘Copacabana’ stuck in my head for a full year. I was legitimately concerned about it.”