Essay, Research Paper: Marilyn Manson

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Marilyn Manson is a name that has been a thorn in the side of society as a moral
and ethical issue for the parents and kids of the generation “X”. He is one
of the most controversial artists in the world today, one who chooses to express
himself in a way that provokes in the most extreme methods possible. His methods
are bizarre and shunned by most of society, as it cannot fathom what he is
trying to accomplish. However, further research into his life and beliefs will
explain that he is sending a very strong message to the world. A message that is
firmly protect by the First Amendment in the American Constitution. This freedom
has unleashed a number of technical issues, as well as indirect damage done by
the people who would interpret his message incorrectly. The First Amendment
guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of association
(assembly). It also protects the rights of citizens to worship as they please
and the right not to be forced to support someone else’s religion. The First
Amendment also provides for the right to assemble and to demand a change in
government policies. (Bill of Rights, Encarta 1999 CDROM). Manson uses this
freedom fully, getting his message across by any means possible, mainly to the
younger generation. These younger generations are more accepting of his attitude
and beliefs, partly due to the fact that teens are more susceptible to mass
persuasion and are easily confused. This has helped Manson conjure up a large
loyal following of disgruntled teens that are called “Mansonites.” How
Manson gets his message across has been the center of controversy revolving
around the US ever since Manson’s rise to stardom. His moral, ethical and
religious actions have been questioned repeatedly. His ethics may be a
representation of how disorientated American society has become in the late
1990s. Alternatively, Manson may simply be showing that the media can be used to
manipulate the American mind more easily than their own values at heart. “God
is in the TV” (Rock is Dead) Manson screams. Now, how did this man become what
he is today? Where did he form his views about life and society, which would
ultimately lead to his notorious antics and cause millions of American parents
and city council members to want to cancel his concerts, against the First
Amendment? (“Politicians Rally against Manson”). Marilyn Manson is the band
name and the stage name of lead singer Brian Warner, who formed the band in 1989
and whose apparent business savvy and flair for controversy turned into a
success. Using androgyny, satanic images and themes of rebellion and death,
Manson irked bystanders and proved that outrageous rock was still a viable form
of entertainment. (“Manson: Rock Star”) The name Marilyn Manson comes from a
pseudonym of Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson, two opposites of society.
(Manson, 85) Ever since Marilyn Manson’s release of his album Anti-Christ
Superstar, many people have associated and accused him of influencing teen
suicide and Satanism, just because he acted, dressed and performed as an
individual brought up by society’s mistakes. (“Marilyn Manson”) It is this
kind of media and political attention that Manson has received to become such a
big name in controversy in the last decade. It all depends in how one takes his
remarks and viewpoints. If no attention were paid to Manson’s antics, there
would be no controversy; therefore, his entire essence of being the AntiChrist
may have been created by society itself. “On moral responsibility: Kids see
more from their parents than they would anyone else. They’re the ones who
should set the example.” (“Manson on Manson”) This is Manson’s criticism
of all the parents who would criticize him. Parents are the biggest complainers
about Manson, partly because they are of the older generation and partly because
they can use Manson as a scapegoat for problems with teenage crime and suicide
in the US. “We talked about the kids inside, the tragedy of hopelessness, the
blatant rebellion against God and Manson’s part in the whole thing.”
(Benson, It’s only Rock N Roll..NOT). This is where the conflicts within the
First Amendment come into play. Too many people disagree on everything, however
everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course there are more against
Manson than for him which is where extreme actions are taken that are either
ridicules or unconstitutional. When college students are fined $250 plus court
costs for simply wearing a Manson T-shirt, there are definitely problems.
(“Manson Shirt Wearer Fined”). This is a violation of the First Amendment
and has been labeled a form of religious persecution. The amount of critics that
Manson has is incredible, and society as a whole has been the major instigator
of the negative publicity Manson receives. In fact, a bill to shield children
from violent and sexual material in music, film, books and games was shot down
in Washington. (Dansby 55) These are some of the extreme measures taken to try
to shield the country from the unfortunate popularity of sex and violence in
American entertainment. It is this violence and sex, which has helped promote
Manson. This negative publicity is helping Manson however, as he is being heard,
and the more his is being heard, the more people he can reach out to, no matter
what negative connotation there is involved. “Recent attempts by conservatives
to ban his shows have made him the darling of the left wing and a perfect
example of the kind of controversy the First Amendment can bring about.”
(“Manson-Politically Correct?”). Now why is Manson under such heat? The
First Amendment does allow him the freedom to say and do what he wants to
provoke, but what exactly does he say? “I’m a controversial artist, one who
dares to have an opinion and bothers to create music and videos that challenge
people’s ideas in a world that is watered-down and hollow.” (Manson 56)
Manson has particular problems with the entertainment industry and the way
society reacts to the media. It was never more apparent with the Columbine
shootings last May. These are the criticisms that have caused the most
controversy in Manson’s saga. “I was dumbfounded as I watched the media
snake right in, not missing a teardrop interviewing the parents of dead
children, televising the funerals.” (Manson 57). It is easy to criticize
someone and put blame on them because they seem like the easiest way out of a
problem. Manson even postponed his own concert because of the heat he was taking
for the Columbine incident, although there was absolutely no relevance between
Manson’s viewpoints influencing the two boys. (Eliscu 23). “Responsible
journalists have reported with less publicity that Harris and Klebold were not
Marilyn Manson fans -- that they even disliked my music.” (Manson 57). He also
accuses the media of being able to manipulate who and what influences the minds
of the public. “They love you when you’re on all the covers, when you’re
not then they love another” Manson sings in “The Dope Show” as a criticism
of the entertainment business. It can be compared to the coverage of the Clinton
scandal, which although the media had an obligation to televise, was also
overdone, and left part of the American public with a negative image of their
leader. However, this does not stop Manson from saying what he thinks, no matter
how many people who may have problems with him. “Whether you interpret the
Bible as literature or as the final word of whatever god may be, Christianity
has given us an image of death and sexuality that we have based our culture
around. A half-naked dead man hangs in most homes and around our necks, and we
have just taken that for granted all our lives. Is it a symbol of hope or
hopelessness?” (Manson 57) These views are not accepted because of his
differences in religion and moral values compared to most of America, which is
predominantly of the Christian faith. No matter how strong of a point Manson
would make in his comments, there will always be a large percentage of the
population ready to disagree. If Manson were to say he loved God, nobody would
object, but because he has different views, and prides himself of it, a majority
of society looks down on him. Nevertheless, the nation also gives anybody the
right to say what he or she thinks, which is where the line is drawn for
interpreting the constitution. There are people who do accept his views however.
Foreigners who do not live under the same kind of society that Americans do tend
to have a more liberal view of Manson. “In America, the attentions of the
Moral Majority and the Fundamentalist Christian constituency outraged by his
professed Satanism and sex and drug-obsessed lyrical bent, have ensured his
status as Public Enemy Number one.” (Mille, Monitor Online). This is just one
view from an Irish critic of Manson. Manson should be allowed to act how he
wishes and the observer would have to choice of agreeing or disagreeing. This
freedom of interpretation leads to a completely new package of problems and
issues. Marilyn Manson comes to the world with a whole collaboration of new
philosophies and beliefs. Some people accept them and some do not which is why
he is so controversial. The younger generation is typically more accepting of
Manson's values. “The only thing that scares me is to lose the power and
strength of my own individuality. I wouldn’t want to become like the less
creative people.” Says Manson in an interview. ( Marray 77) This is a
strong principle of Manson’s and a big part of the understanding of the
religion of Satanism. “I went to God just to see/and I was looking at me.”
Sings Manson (The Reflecting God). This is part of how Manson feels of himself.
This is the essence of Satanism, the belief that one’s individuality should be
the sole influence of one’s moral and ethical values. (Manson 168) “In this
way, his kind of intellectual elitism (and mine) is actually politically correct
because it doesn’t judge people by race or creed but by the attainable, equal
opportunity criterion of intelligence. The biggest sin in Satanism in not
murder, nor is it kindness. It is stupidity.” (Manson 168) Manson is speaking
about his concurrence with Anton Szandor LaVey, the founder and high Priest of
the Church of Satan. LaVey was a follower of Nietzsche’s philosophies and thus
transferred them to Manson when they met. (Manson 164) “He told Rolling stone
Magazine: It’s the whole Nietzsche philosophy of you are your own god”
(Benson, AFA). This philosophy has appeal to people of the younger generations
who are often confused about their own ideals. (Benson, AFA). It is obvious that
this kind of thinking does not have good connotation with most other religions
represented in America. His philosophies are by no means far-fetched and
therefore they should not be under any sort of heat for being “stupid”.
“Stupid” is what Marilyn Manson and many of his followers have been called.
Many remarks like these are made by protective parents, whom however, must in
turn realize their own moral and ethical deficiencies first. The main argument
that has been made of Manson’s antics is his corruption of America’s youth.
He has been accused of having sexual intercourse on stage (Manson 246) and
influencing others to have sex as well. These are of course false rumors,
because singing and playing music at the same time would be rather difficult. Of
course Manson is in no way a perfectly clean man. “The rock group Marilyn
Manson consists if demons or evil spirits in that they espouse heretical
beliefs, claim to be Antichrists and Satanists, and attempt to tempt children
away from Christianity with Sin.” (Manson 248). This is one parents view about
Manson’s lack of morals. It is obvious in his music videos and stage antics
that Manson is very liberal when it comes to drugs and sex. However, his music
does not encourage suicide. “The American Academy of Child and Adolescent
Psychiatry lists 14 signs to look for in a suicidal child. Music choices are not
among them.” (Rosen, Music Violence) His on stage antics are something that
many people would find disgusting and erroneous. He does pretend to have
simulated sex on stage, along with various on stage effects that are
degenerative towards religion. (Lunchbox, Rock is Dead Tour VCD). The pinnacle
of his onstage performances are the introduction where Manson is brought onstage
crucified to a cross made of TVs, and his performance of “Antichrist
Superstar” where he proceeds to rip the pages out of the bible behind a podium
whilst the audience cheers and beats their fists in the air. (Antichrist
Superstar, Last Tour on Earth VCD) This has been controversial, as the major
part of the population does not listen to Manson or follow Satanism. Manson has
never done anything criminal other than illegal drugs; there he is not liable
for any of the events that happen during his concerts. Unfortunately, many of
the audience members cause more problems than the band. Fights have broken out
and various other illegal activities have occurred. (Lunchbox, Rock is Dead Tour
VCD). However, not everything involved with Manson is negative. In fact, some
parents would interpret Manson in a different way. “Manson is a gross-out
artist, his look is often repulsive, he has a laissez-faire attitude about sex
and drugs, his music is often violent and vile. All this crap has made him
ridiculously rich. That's nothing new, though, in the world of rock and roll.
What is new is his message - America is neglectful, scornful and afraid of its
own children and they're not gonna take it anymore. Maybe parents are the ones
who should be listening to what he has to say.” (Humphrey, Fort Worth Weekly)
This particular parent believes that Manson does send a strong message and that
he is a good spoof of American society. “The Religious Right needs Manson as
much as he needs it. With the death of communism, the religious conservatives
and the politicians who feed off them needed a new bogeyman to scare true
believers into keeping those checks coming in. Marilyn Manson, who urges kids to
question the existence of God and believe in themselves, is a gift from
evangelical heaven.” (Humphrey, Fort Worth Weekly). In essence, this quote is
saying the only person you can trust is yourself, because politicians, the
church and other institutions are corrupted and only in it for the money. As can
be seen, even the older generation may be somewhat cynical, but able to relate
to what Manson is criticizing. “In these conversations we've had some very
spirited exchanges about morality, the First Amendment, values, the profit
motive in show business and good taste.” (Hall, Spirit) A parent says of
Manson’s appeal to kids. Parents have found ways to show their kids the
importance of morals and ethics by using Manson as an example. In fact, it is
quite ironic that parents would be criticizing Manson’s morals and ethics.
After all, Manson is the way he is because of his poor childhood and bad
parenting. His lack of morals can be blamed on the fact that his parents did not
give him the attention he needed as a teenager. (Manson 60) He was never put
through the moral and ethical background that many of us take for granted. He
was left to figure out his own morals for himself. (Manson 71) “He is a hurt
man. Regardless of his actions, he still has feelings, and truly believes that
is what Christianity is all about. If some could reach him, maybe, just maybe,
he could be able to bring millions of teenagers into Heaven, instead of leading
down the road to hell.”(Ignored Now Famous, Seaport Community Church) This
comes to the younger generations’ perception of Manson. Many of the younger
generation can relate to Manson’s state of mind. Almost all teens feel
confused and disgruntled growing up, trying to determine where they fit in and
Manson has given them a place to look. Manson too, had experienced just about
every kind of abuse and seen all the horrors of a young teenager growing up in
Christian School and then transferring to Public High School. His life has been
a messed up one and only now has begun to capture a meaning, which has come to
him through his music. (Manson 180) Teens can relate to him, particularly the
ones who are “different” look up to Manson, because he is the epitome of
different. He dresses differently, often cross-dressing and he pretends to be a
homosexual, which is always a big issue of acceptance in society. (Manson 182)
Much of his onstage antics also appeal to teens, the same ones that would appeal
to adults if they were in a different place. In fact, the WWF (World Wrestling
Federation) has employed some of the same antics that Manson uses on stage. It
has become one of the most popular entertainment phenomena in America in the
last few years. “Manson has become the Rolling Stone cover boy and the idol of
quasi-Goth teenagers everywhere.” (Collins, YH online) Teens labeled
“Goth” are the ones who dress in black, are often depressed and into gloomy
settings and themes like Halloween and Edgar Allan Poe. (Webster's Ninth New
Collegiate Dictionary's Definition) Teenagers can relate to Manson’s thinking:
“ I've always tried to let people know it's OK, or better, if you don't fit
into the program. Use your imagination -- if some geek from Ohio can become
something, why can't anyone else with the willpower and creativity?” (Manson,
Rolling stone). He uses himself as an example to show everyone that he made
himself into a rock star. This is a strong message to young kids who are
confused and discontented. The younger generation also tends to be a lot more
liberal and accepts Manson much better than the older generation. It is also
because of the short attention span of many youngsters who need someone like
Manson to do outrageous things to keep them entertained. Even kids however, will
support one another in what music they listen to, no matter whether they like it
or not. Teenagers however do listen to Manson’s music much more than adults
and this is because they can relate much better to him and the feelings of
emptiness. “Because it’s a Great Big White World/and we are drained of our
colors/We used to love ourselves, we used to love one another.” (Great Big
White World) Manson sings about the emptiness of a world where perhaps a person
has had bad luck. A certain amount of teenagers can relate to Manson’s
childhood where faith failed him, love went sour and money was not fulfilling.
In this case, Manson resolves to promoting himself to his own god, a elitist
view, but one that appeals to adults and teens alike. The harm in Manson’s
expression comes indirectly to most. Teenagers such as Harris or Klebold who
would interpret messages in music and entertainment negatively are where
problems start to arise. Manson does preach two things, drugs and sex which can
easily lead to greater problems should a person interpret his music’s message
incorrectly. “I am the god of f$#%, I am the god of f#$%/Virgins sold by
quantity, herded by heredity /Who says date rape isn't kind.” (Cake and
Sodomy) Manson sings. It is this kind of lyrics which would cause problems if an
action were taken according to the message. However, those particular lyrics
come from an older not well-known song of Manson’s and luckily, no real crimes
of rape have occurred because of them. (Humphrey, Fort Worth Weekly) It is given
that Marilyn Manson has done dishonorable things, but he has self-confessed this
to the world. “I’m such a dirty Rock Star, yeah,” (Deformography, CD)
Manson sings in his song Deformography, a song about his transition from a
nobody into a Rock Star. People, who listen to him, listen because they find him
intriguing in that he speaks his mind against common concrete beliefs. Although
Manson does has done immoral things, sings about sex, drugs and the antichrist,
there are bands and people out there who are much worst than him. If America is
complaining about morals and ethics, it should first worry about whom it selects
as President, because he has not shown to have much stronger morals than Manson.
Manson chooses to convey himself to the world openly, which is why he receives
so much negative publicity. This negative publicity is publicity either way, and
that means Manson is getting attention, which is what he wants. If people who
dislike him were to utterly ignore him, there would be no controversy over his
religious and moral position or whether he was influencing teenagers to become
delinquents. The bottom line is, Marilyn Manson is an entertainer like all other
entertainers, and although he chooses to articulate himself in an out of the
ordinary fashion, he is still protected by the First Amendment. The boundaries
of what exactly the Amendment allows and does not allow is a major controversy
and which will never be solved because the Amendment allows for so much
difference in interpretation. Just like every belief of Manson’s is open for
interpretation as can be seen with the different viewpoints of parents and an
older generation compared to the views of teenagers and “generation X”. The
freedom of speech, press and religion granted by the First Amendment should
benefit those who do not like Manson as much as those who do. Those who dislike
him do not have to listen to him or acknowledge him, and those who admire him
will experience a plethora of bizarre ideas and antics. Perhaps no one can sum
up Manson better than himself; “First of all your protests and put them to

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