Marilyn Manson. He's not an artist. He's a work of art. A person who created his pseudonym from the names Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson. Two individuals who he thinks reflect the most transcendent and unsettling dualism of American Culture.
You see, Mr. Manson rose to fame in the 90s. The great 'Gen X' era, where most people and teens especially, had a lot of repressed darkness bubbling inside them. The inner confusion and apprehension possibly came from their highly religious and conservative upbringing. Surprise surprise: The Boomers. Most art and music forms that emerged during this period were naturally antagonistic and aggressive. Bands like Nine Inch Nails or Nirvana wouldn't work in the climate of today, and of course, would be "Cancelled."
Speaking of canceling artists, Marilyn Manson might just be next in line. Multiple allegations have come up accusing him of sexual assault on women to psychological abuse. .
If you find it right to cancel a toxic artist completely or if you’re on the other end of the spectrum, where you fully support them irrespective of what they do, or you’re just floating in the middle reading off the context of things- they’re all perfectly fine.
I see the work of a person and the person as two different entities and that’s going to be subjective for everyone. As a listener, it’s really exhausting and tiring to find out that most artists aren’t very good people. And this is how I truly feel about a lot of musicians, filmmakers, or painters.
It’s hard to coincide and resolve that within me. I do understand that their actions aren’t acceptable in any way whatsoever and it’s challenging to come to terms with the fact that these aren’t exactly the type of people to look up to, because their morals don’t align with mine. And it all opens up a discussion on differentiating the art and the artist.
What I’m trying to say isn’t really to defend or condemn any particular individual, to me, it’s more about analyzing and trying to figure out an objective notion for this specific paradox that all of us are clearly stuck in.
Marilyn Manson was part of this culture and was known for his morbid obscenity and profanity. He continues to command a cult-like status, and it's even reflected in some of his works. To me, the man is a living work of art. Undoubtedly an Anti-popstar as well.
The art that he creates and puts out into the world feels more like an extension of his convoluted psyche and inclusive creativity. Manson’s music, or the intricately crafted music videos, never shied away from playing with the grotesque. It confronted his audience with the more sinister side of the American Dream- its mania and pitfalls.
While consuming his music and trying to figure out what all of it means to Manson, one can't help but get drawn into his deep, troubled realm and expansive exploration of Humanity itself.
He very clearly focuses his work on the more distasteful and questionable facets of human existence. Yet, he conveys everything beautifully through the lyrics, the music, and twisted and warped notions of beauty.
Over the years, Marilyn Manson has seamlessly taken up multiple forms while staying true to his purpose. Being one of rock's most extraordinary agents of chaos, he constantly questioned and stunned his audience with his self-portrayal and choice in imagery.
He managed to let his physicality portray precisely what he wished to represent at that time. From his career as a spooky kid, the Antichrist Superstar, to the Mephistopheles of Los Angeles.
Even the gigs that he performed were very performance art-heavy. And because of that, he became an easy target for religious groups who tried very hard to get his shows and music banned.
Even after all these years, Manson continues to be known as the king of Shock-rock. I believe that his rebellious nature and unwillingness to bow down to societal norms contributed significantly to his mass appeal. Teens were more in sync with his music which helped them channel their anger, confusion, or hate. He made them feel more heard and understood. Even today, all the music that he creates is layered with metaphors.
Manson’s music has never been more relevant at a time of cultural and political turbulence. In Killing Strangers (a song he released in 2015), there’s a line where he says, "We're killing strangers, so we don't kill the ones that we love," and this essentially summarizes the cycle of stupidity, which is America's gun crime problem.
He's managed to keep up with the changing times, rather than being a cultural figure of just the 90s. So as long as young people are angry (which they almost always are), he will have active listeners.
He allows people to assume things about him or simply plays into things just to see what will come out of it, pretty much like a performance artist. He is a famed exhibitionist who has spent his career mutilating celebrity culture.