Marilyn Manson

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Marilyn Manson in 2006.
Because Heaven sounds lame anyways
Icon Satanism second try.png
God's own scapegoat
A devilish plan
Time to put on some
Icon music.png

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.[1][2][3] 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 artistic contributions to iconoclasm are often interpreted as anti-Christian, especially his 1996 anti-authoritarian 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. Manson does not believe in a God or gods, an atheist by definition despite not self-identifying as one.[4] He has also received much erroneous blame for causing youth school shootings and suicides.[5]

History and ideology[edit]

Marilyn Manson (and the Spooky Kids) formed in 1989 and released their first studio album 1994, Portrait of an American Family. This album, which Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails produced in the Sharon Tate House, was basically LSD mixed with Satan, Willy Wonka, and George Carlin. It was a cheesy and satirical album about the dark ridiculousness of America's moral underbelly, and Reznor took Manson's band on the road with greater exposure as a result.[6] Antichrist Superstar is staunchly anti-conservative, anti-establishment, and anti-theistic. Its tour's shocking antics further solidified Manson as a boogeyman for sanctimonious religious conservatives.[7] The album after that, Mechanical Animals, is arguably more musical and artistic, showing more Marilyn than Manson. It happened to be a case of Manson returning to vibes and emotions while experiencing alienation and the shallow numbness of society.[8] The next album, Holy Wood, is a critique of how the media deals with death. The albums Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals, and Holy Wood make up a tryptich (trilogy), Manson saying the story is a human cycle that occurs in reverse chronological order. Throughout his career, Manson has definitely been in favor of personal freedom and social progress. He voted for Barack Obama and, in the music video for his song "SAY10", decapitated Trump long before Kathy Griffin did. Despite this, he is certainly not a "vote blue no matter who" type of person as evidenced by his statement in 2016, saying a vote for Trump or Clinton would be voting "between cat shit and dog shit".[9][10]

Fundie backlash[edit]

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.'
Many people in cities where the band played began to pray for them and their fans to be "saved." Manson, meanwhile, argued that it has always been the job of artists to push culture forward.[11]

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.[12]


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.[13] Due to the ongoing criticism by Christian groups aimed at his works, Manson later 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.
—Manson in response to protestors. [14]

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[15], they actually disliked his music, and instead listened to bands like Rammstein and KMFDM[16] that, while briefly stained by controversy, weren't hit nearly as much as Manson was, likely because nobody had ever heard of them.

Nazi imagery[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Godwin's Law

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.[17][18] While it's probably safe to say that Manson is in no way 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 controversyWikipedia).