Marilyn Manson (born Brian Hugh Warner in 1969) is an American rock musician. His stage name was formed by juxtaposing the names of two American cultural icons, namely actress Marilyn Monroe and murderer Charles Manson. Manson generated controversy both for both his provocative image and lyrics, as well as for doing some things clearly in the name of stirring up controversy, like tearing up a Book of Mormon to spite religious leaders attempting to bribe him not to hold a concert in Utah. For this reason he is also commonly labelled a "shock-rocker". His lyrics reveal a fascination with death, violence, sex, authority, and celebrity. His work is often interpreted as anti-Christian, especially his 1996 concept album, Antichrist Superstar, though he says he has respect for many aspects of the religion. He received the honorary title of Reverend of the Church of Satan from founder and friend Anton LaVey, though he is not a Satanist himself. He has also received much blame for causing youth school shootings and suicides.
Following the release of their album Antichrist Superstar, Frank Keating, then-Governor of Oklahoma, said:
“”"It's important for us to say 'We're not going to shut you down by law, we're not going to shut you down by the writ of a censor, we're going to shut you down because what you propose is not uplifting. It's not helpful, doesn't advance the culture."'
In 2000, Bill O'Reilly invited Manson to appear on the "Children At Risk" segment of his show.
“”O'Reilly: What's your message, what are you trying to get across in the lyrics to these songs?
Manson: It's always about being yourself and not being ashamed of being different or thinking different. I try and take everyone's ideals, common morals, flip them around, make people look at them differently, question them so that you're not always taking things for granted.
O'Reilly attempted to challenge Manson's presentation of this message. However, O'Reilly had bitten off more than he could chew. Rather than getting angry with O'Reilly's interruptions and "think of the children" mindset, Manson makes the point that it should be a parent's decision what their kids hear. O'Reilly admitted Manson was a "well spoken guy", but challenged his constant use of profanity. Manson's reply to that was:
“”It's better to use a curse word than to hurt somebody, I find.
O'Reilly moved on and made Manson's point for him, claiming that Manson's lyrics might cause kids to commit murder or suicide to gain fame through death. Unfortunately for him, nobody told him that the point of Manson's stage name was to highlight the media's exact cause of that through their obsession with serial killers.
“”I wouldn't say a single word to 'em. I would listen to what they have to say as that's what no one did.
|—Manson, when asked what he would say to the perpetrators and community.|
The Columbine High School shooting in Colorado was an opportunity for independent thinkers like Senators Joe Lieberman, Sam Brownback, and Orrin Hatch to take up Tipper Gore's old pet peeve and blame movies like The Matrix, rock and rap music, and in particular, Manson, for inspiring the Columbine killers and kids in general to commit murders. Manson stopped all promotional activity out of respect for the victims and decided to lay low for a while.
Manson gave an interview to filmmaker Michael Moore for his documentary Bowling for Columbine. Due to the ongoing criticism by Christian groups aimed at his works Manson issued the following statement:
“”I am truly amazed that after all this time, religious groups still need to attack entertainment and use these tragedies as a pitiful excuse for their own self-serving publicity. In response to their protests, I will provide a show where I balance my songs with a wholesome Bible reading. This way, fans will not only hear my so-called, 'violent' point of view, but we can also examine the virtues of wonderful 'Christian' stories of disease, murder, adultery, suicide and child sacrifice. Now that seems like 'entertainment' to me.
Former bandmate Daisy Berkowitz noted the irony of Manson attempting to distance himself from Columbine, arguing that if he set out to portray himself as having such tremendous power over his listeners that he might as well claim his share of the credit. However, many responded that Berkowitz's comment failed to understand that things like the "Satanic Panic" were not real, while Columbine was a genuine, actual massacre, in which many children lost their lives.
In a further irony, the actual Columbine killers themselves, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, didn't even listen to Manson. As the man himself noted, they actually disliked his music, and instead listened to bands like Rammstein and KMFDM that, while briefly stained by controversy, weren't hit nearly as much as Manson was, likely because nobody had ever heard of them.
Being as cool and edgy as he is, Manson has at various times during his career picked up a penchant for using Nazi-inspired imagery and designs, both for album art and costumes. While it's probably safe to say that Manson is in no way shape or form a proponent of anything reminiscent of Nazism, one does have to wonder about how tactful it is to basically dress up as one (though countless people do wear Hugo Boss without evoking controversy).
- Charles Manson Trial, 2violent.com.
- Manson, Marilyn (1998). The Long Hard Road out of Hell. HarperCollins. pp. 85–87. ISBN 0-06-098746-4.
- "Biography for Marilyn Manson". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001504/bio. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
- Manson, Marilyn. "Columbine: Whose Fault Is It?" Rolling Stone, 24 June 1999 (recovered 29 November 2015).
- A couple of mirrors of some of Harris' old web pages, containing the lyrics to the KMFDM songs "Son of a Gun" and "Power".