“I am sorry to Chad, Ryan, Mike and Daniel. Not as just members of Nickelback, but more importantly as fellow Canadians,” Kensington Constable Robb Hartlen wrote on Facebook. “You guys share so much with so many and I truly feel bad for using that the way I did. It was not my intention, It was not my desire but it was the outcome and I have to own that. So for that I am sorry.”
Hartlen’s apology came after the constable had weaponized the band in a public, tongue-in-cheek threat: If the Kensington authorities caught a drunk driver, the police department warned on its Facebook page in late November, be prepared for the “copy of Nickelback in the cruiser on the way to jail.”
“So please, lets not ruin a perfectly good unopened copy of Nickelback,” the police department said. “You don’t drink and drive and we won’t make you listen to it.”
As The Washington Post reported at the time, the punishment was in jest — the Kensington department had not, in fact, purchased a Nickelback album. Nor, as Hartlen later told CNN, did the policeman despise Nickelback. But that did not stop commenters from piling on, as Reuters noted, taking potshots at Nickelback such as “Police brutality!! Torture!! Inhumane punishment!!” and, “OUCH!! I’d rather be shot … twice!”
The constable worried that the true message from a police department in a small town in eastern Canada, Kensington, had been lost in translation. Plus, Nickelback requested that the mention of a musical threat be removed from the police department’s Facebook post, TMZ reported. The Kensington Police Service complied.
On Friday afternoon, Hartlen wrote that, “somewhere in the noise, the message of Don’t Drink and Drive was overshadowed by negativity towards the band.” He added: “But the more successful the post became the less the Don’t Drink and Drive message was mentioned and the fact we love or love to hate Nickelback took [center] stage.” Hartlen said the reaction prompted him to rethink Nickelback — the band was four guys from Alberta, not just an easy punching bag.
The band falls into that category of things people hate simply because they can, like the DMV or Nicolas Cage. Hatred for Nickelback is so routine that the topic was subjected to academic treatment in the journal Metal Music Studies in March.
“Sometimes it’s fun to hate things arbitrarily, and Nickelback has become an acceptable thing to hate,” wrote Chuck Klosterman at Grantland in 2012. “There’s no risk in hating Nickelback, and hating something always feels better than feeling nothing at all.”
During the 2016 presidential campaign, the anti-Nickelback meme jumped into politics, when a protester began following Ted Cruz’s bus while holding a sign that read, “Ted Cruz likes Nickelback.” Donald Trump, as The Post reported in January, was also accused via placard of enjoying Nickelback tunes.