Marilyn Manson – Artist or Offender?

Written By: Brandon Caylor
Photos By: Kevin Graft

Over the years Marilyn Manson, the self-proclaimed Antichrist Superstar, has made a killing from taking advantage of people’s overall stupidity and blindness. He has made an entire career from finding what upsets people the most, and exploiting it to the nth degree. Who else would go onstage in Salt Lake City and tear up the Book of Mormon? Whatever the reason, the man knows how to take negative publicity and use it to his advantage.

True art is created by an open mind, and challenges its audience to think about its overall purpose.

Marilyn Manson recently headlined the Rockstar Mayhem Festival in Sacramento, CA. The fans were treated to one hour of excessive, wasteful behavior, lack of the usual Manson theatrics, and overall horrible sound. But was this purposely done to make an artistic statement?

The band opened up with the song “We Are Americans” from his latest album, “The High End of the Low.” This song set the tone for the entire performance. In it he himself describes the wasteful tendencies of what Americans have become known for throughout the rest of the world. For example, he mentions turning literature into litter. Think about the classic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which was once one our country’s greatest literary works, now banned in schools because of its use of a certain world. True art, again, pushes boundaries and challenges its audience. This book was no exception. How can we turn our backs on a piece of work that so truthfully describes how our country’s citizens behaved, and how they spoke about one another?

Mr. Manson further described our wasteful, excessive nature by being waited on by servants who brought him a beverage every few minutes or so, and he would take one single drink, spit it out on the audience, and throw the bottle onto the stage. He threw the microphone after each song, only to be furnished with a new one each time. He knocked over mic stands and stage lights, had them put back up by his servants, only to have them knocked over again. He accepted gifts from the audience, which he would kindly display on his body for a few seconds, then wipe on his butt and chuck back into the crowd.

The phrase “We Are Americans” is not a statement proclaiming who we are, it has turned into to an excuse for us being the way we are. With that statement comes expectations that we will be treated like gold, waited on hand and foot, and we will be excessive and wasteful.

He did poke fun at patriots by prancing across the stage with an American flag draped around him. (Of course everybody knows that wearing a flag is a violation of proper flag treatment) Was that offensive? Perhaps to some. But then these days it is common to see people dressed in flag t-shirts and bikinis.

Marilyn Manson drove through a good portion of his classic material, including “The Dope Show,” “Irresponsible Hate Anthem,” “Disposable Teens,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Tourniquet,” “Rock Is Dead,” “The Beautiful People,” and a couple new tunes from his latest release. Unfortunately there were no songs present from his first release, “Portrait of an American Family.” But then again, you can only play so many songs in one hour.

Before the show, Marilyn Manson would not allow any media contact, further adding to the allure that he has become a cocky rock star in every sense. Or has he? In further examining the show, I would guess that the only thing Manson would say to a reporter is, “If you want to see a close up of me, look no further than your bathroom mirror.”

This evening’s particular performance definitely challenged the fans to think, and in talking to some of them later on, it appears that perhaps fifty percent of them actually got the message, if indeed there truly was a message.

Like any brilliant artist, Mr. Manson always leaves it up to his audience to decide, and this was no exception. And like good art, it is always open to interpretation.

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