The song, written by Adam Yauch and band friend Tom "Tommy Triphammer" Cushman (who appears in the video), was intended as an ironic parody of "party" and "attitude"-themed songs, such as "Smokin' in the Boys Room" and "I Wanna Rock". However, the irony was lost on most listeners. Mike D commented that, "The only thing that upsets me is that we might have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were actually totally different. There were tons of guys singing along to "Fight for Your Right" who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them."
Directed by Ric Menello and Adam Dubin, many elements of the music video for "Fight for Your Right" appear to be influenced by George A. Romero's zombie horror movie Dawn of the Dead. In Dawn of the Dead a biker gang infiltrates a shopping mall and attacks the zombies with (amongst other things) pies-in-the-face. At one point a biker smashes a television set with a sledge-hammer, just like MCA in this video. There are also numerous cameos in this video, including an unknown at the time Tabitha Soren, Def Jam label mate LL Cool J, members of the punk band Murphy's Law, as well as the Beastie Boys' producer, Rick Rubin, who was shown wearing an AC/DC & Slayer shirt, the latter of whom were also signed to Def Jam at the time.
Soren, whose hair was dyed blonde for the shoot, got her chance to be in the video because she was a friend of Rubin's and attended nearby New York University. "I worked hard at not getting any pie goo on me", she recalls, because the whipped cream used had been scoured from supermarket trash cans since there was no money in the budget for it. As a result it was rancid and had a foul odor. "The smell in that room, when everyone was done throwing pies, was like rotten eggs. You wanted to throw up."
In 2011, Adam Yauch directed and wrote a surreal comedic short film entitled Fight for Your Right Revisited to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the original video's release. The short film serves as a video for the single "Make Some Noise" from Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. Most of the non-sequitur dialogue between characters were a result of improvisation by the cast.
'Revisited' acts as a sequel to the events that took place in the original music video and features Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA (played by Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood, and Danny McBride, respectively) as they get into more drunken antics, before being challenged to a dance battle by the future Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA (John C. Reilly, Will Ferrell, and Jack Black, respectively), coming out of a DeLorean.
On August 2, 2009, Coldplay performed an acoustic piano-based version of this song during their concert on the final night of the All Points West concert series as a tribute to the Beastie Boys, who were unable to perform on opening night following Adam Yauch's announcement that he had cancer. The band performed this version again on May 4, 2012, at their concert at the Hollywood Bowl as a tribute to Adam Yauch, who had died earlier that day.
Smith, Chris (2009). 101 Albums that Changed Popular Music. Oxford University Press. p. 189. ISBN978-0-1953-7371-4. "the hit single (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party) was a tongue-in-cheek rap/rock hybrid that largely satirized the white frat-boy audience that made the album such a big hit."
Mitchell, Kevin M. (2003). Hip-hop Rhyming Dictionary: For Rappers, DJs and MCs. Alfred Music Publishing. p. 12. ISBN978-0-7390-3333-3. "The party anthem "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)" by the Beastie Boys blended hard rock and rap."
Stratton, Jon (2009). Jews, Race and Popular Music. Ashgate Publishing. p. 10. ISBN978-0-7546-6804-6. "The Beastie Boys' success came from their acceptance by African- American audiences while making rap understandable to white audiences by combining it with hard rock — the most important example of this being '(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)'."