In the nineties Marilyn Manson redefined the term ‘shock rock’; in the name of art and to make a point. Extreme in his theatrics, Manson became shock rock; as a god-like personification of ‘the anti’ he moulded himself into a character of mythic proportion, and fact and fiction served to deify the allegory. A symbol of chaos enforced by theatre extreme, Manson elicited the attention he set out to achieve. Adulation and abuse set the stage for the deliverance of an almighty message, which erupted with arguable genius.
There is a philosophy that says that best way to get people to realise their metaphorical blindness is to shock them into recognition. In the name of art Manson transformed himself into the “god of fuck”; the antithesis of society’s defined morality. Infamously, he wiped his ass on the American flag, tore pages out of the Bible, facilitated some on-stage fellatio et cetera et cetera in an effort to change the way people think and challenge popular doctrine – Christianity in particular. In his 1998 autobiography The Long Hard Road Out of Hell Manson says that the purpose of his life “…is to make Americans realise they don’t have to believe in something just because they’ve been told it all their lives.”
Manson argues that only through human experience can human beings determine their own morality; being human is about leading a guiltless existence as an individual. Manson’s mantra is all about self-belief and self-reliance, and his persona is a rant against hypocrisy, which can only be transcended through acknowledgement.
And ten/twenty years ago, Marilyn Manson had a point. He was relevant. His debasement forced the masses to double check their state of ethics. The irony of the hate brandished by those rioting against Manson merely fueled the flame and imbued him with validity. But that flame has since dwindled… yet onward Manson marches, preaching to the converted. No longer the arch antagonist – the Apocalypse personified, the Anti-Christ bred in Fort Lauderdale, Florida – Manson’s drug-addled person offers a watered-down version of his former self.
But artists evolve, right? It is their entitlement. Art is not static. Yet Manson still raves against fascism on his Nazi-esque platform and tears pages out of the Bible. And there is no reaction. Perhaps Christians have cottoned on to the fact that God is much bigger than an act of hate – no matter the perversity of the action. Perhaps people have accepted Manson’s mantra and are no longer inclined to absorb the bullshit that they’re fed? Or perhaps society has merely weakened in the face of its own depravity? Whatever the case, it’s as if concert goers are attracted to Manson for the man (the idea) that once was; like an old dinosaur bone.
Whilst Marilyn Manson was ravished by the hedonism of his art and intellect, the world changed and Manson lost the plot. It is the ‘myth of Manson’ that propels him forward and keeps him in the consciousnesses of the collective he warred against for a decade. And he seems to be quite okay with that.