Dead Kennedys — Bedtime for Democracy

I actually got this one before I got “Frankenchrist,” though probably not by much. It came out in November 1986, and I’m remembering I got it right around when it came out. I was deeply into the combined CD of “In God We Trust, Inc.” and “Plastic Surgery Disasters,” and would pick up a copy of “Frankenchrist” in February 1987 (which I only know because I still have the receipt!).

Bedtime for Democracy front cover
Bedtime for Democracy front cover

This is 21 fast songs, starting with a cover of “Take This Job and Shove It,” a song way too obvious for my tastes then or now. The rest of the songs are all in decent Dead Kennedys form, but they aren’t, to my thinking, anywhere near as good as what came before. “Chickenshit Conformist” and “Where Do Ya Draw the Line” stand out, the rest are fine but just don’t speak to me the way the previous discs did. Bands rarely make their best record when they’re breaking up (unless they’re The Beatles), and that’s what was happening here.

The best part, and the scariest part, of this record is the newspaper insert that came with it. Titled “Fuck Facts!” It features real stories (“Principal burns science magazine”), alarming headlines, and absolute prescience in the form of an ad for an anti-viral sanitizing spray. Meant as a stab at how the country was handling the AIDS crisis, its applicability 34 years later is alarming. It also includes an ad for an amusement park called “Vietnam Never Happened,” and details about the controversy over the poster that was included in “Frankenchrist.”

At the time, while I despised Ronald Reagan and the cult of personality that put unqualified, inept and possibly senile people into positions of power in the name of supporting whatever agenda a particular side had (and both sides, all sides, do this – the means always justify the end in an utterly corrupt system), I did think that some of the criticism was overreach and that, while he was a terrific dupe surrounded by ideologues, Reagan himself wasn’t such a problem. The problem was that he represented something that had previously just been creeping into politics but had now taken full form: the idea of supporting any leader absolutely as long as they were feeding you your particular meat. And unfortunately, that has only intensified into the extreme polarization we see today, a true cult surrounding a leader who not only has utter disdain for anyone in his cult (well, so do I), but a cult that has completely tossed aside what they had long said were their most important principles, in order to show their adoration of this horror show of a “leader.”

So, tragically, Dead Kennedys were right to be that upset by Ronald Reagan, and everything that beginning of the decline of conservatism represented.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *