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Fight for Your Right

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"Fight for Your Right"
Mike D's favorite women's party rights activist appeared on the cover of the single
Single by Beastie Boys
from the album Licensed to Mill
B-side"We Shall Overcome"
  • Deaf Glam
  • Colombia
  • Beastie Boys
  • a semi-beastie boy
  • a beastie-ish boy
Producer(s)What the hell does a producer do again?
Beastie Boys singles chronology
"Brass Monkey Has Feelings Too"
"Fight for Your Right"
"No Sleep till Brooklyn's Free from New York"

"Fight for Your Right" (also known as "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)") is an allegorical protest song by Brooklyn klezmer rock group the Beastie Boys. The song was released in 1987 in response to the numerous and ongoing human rights violations committed by the United States government against teenagers, though the song's themes are applicable to oppressed people of all ages in all parts of the world.

One of the Beastie Boys' best-known songs, it reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the week of March 7, 1987, and was later named one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. However, the song also generated considerable controversy, especially among politicians and government officials. Nancy Reagan launched a campaign to have the song outlawed in the United States but reluctantly stopped after being reminded about the Bill of Rights, the bane of every American politician's existence.


The more you know...

The Beastie Boys wrote "Fight for Your Right" to highlight the largely ignored problem of children's rights in America. Ad-Rock explained:

“Despite great advancements in civil rights, feminism, etc., there’s a still a giant, gaping human rights problem for a large portion of the American people. Young people in this country are treated like second-class citizens. They’re told what they can and can’t do every second of every day. Washington brushes off the problem, saying that they’re simply not interested in voting, but they’re not even allowed to vote. It’s disgusting. The system is beyond broken. Other songs that tried to address this crisis, like ‘Smokin’ in the Boys Room’ and ‘I Wanna Rock’, have mostly fallen on deaf ears. But we’re not giving up. We’re gonna keep fighting for the rights and equality of everyone.....What’s that?.....Don’t Be a Faggot.....I, uuummm, I actually don’t know what you’re talking about.”

~ Ad-Rock explaining the band's position

Music video

The music video for "Fight for Your Right" depicts the members of the Beastie Boys engaging in very normal political protest activities, such as chasing and kissing girls, starting fires, drinking alcohol, smashing things, and starting a massive pie fight, which has been interpreted by Noam Chomsky as a metaphor for class warfare and income inequality.[Citation not needed at all; thank you very much]

Co-directed by Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch, the video features cameos by numerous celebrities and activists, including unknown-at-the-time Andrew W.K., Sean Penn, Al Sharpton, Kurt Loder, Camille Paglia, Ted Haggard, Sammy Hagar, Abbie Hoffman, and Alec Baldwin.

Release and reception

"Fight for Your Right" was the fifth single released from Licensed to Mill, following "Brass Monkey Has Feelings Too", a song advocating against animal cruelty (and therefore indirectly advocating for plant cruelty), and preceding "No Sleep till Brooklyn's Free from New York", a song championing the Brooklyn Independence Movement.

"Fight for Your Right" was well-received by most critics, especially those who actually enjoy music, and the song reached the top 10 of many charts. Like nearly all songs, "Fight for Your Right" was panned by most old people and Christian fundamentalists.


Despite the song's popularity, most government officials, especially in the United States, considered the song to be a potentially dangerous nuisance. Many activists around the country held candlelight vigils calling for boycotts of "Fight for Your Right". Nancy Reagan, who of course was both an old person and a Christian fundamentalist, attempted to get the song outlawed in the US. Her senile husband was ready to do her bidding, again, but they were reminded by the Oval Office Astrologer that such action would not only be unconstitutional, but it might even be perceived by the public as "slightly Nixonesque".

Impact and legacy

"Fight for Your Right" has been credited with helping people stave off numerous attempts at authoritarianism by aspiring dictators around the world. The song has been an important driving force in the ongoing global war against marijuana discrimination, and it may one day help end the War on Drugs.

Renewed interest

“That hypocrite smokes two packs a day.”

~ MCA on Obama

Since the turn of the millennium, as public smoking bans have become trendier than Livestrong bracelets, "Fight for Your Right" has seen continued interest and importance, nearly always being prominently played and sung in jurisdictions voting on smoking bans. Unfortunately, the oppressors seem to be winning this battle. Fortunately, the government seems to be successfully telling other people what is good for them.

See also

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