Marilyn Manson scared the living shit out of me.
Marilyn Manson was every mom’s worst nightmare, and was the idol of every teenage kid that got beat up by the jock with a Dave Matthew’s Band CD. 1994 brought the death of grunge, and in 1996 Manson twisted the knife into the bloated music industry that was bleeding dry every last Nirvana rip-off band for an extra buck. Just listen to the first 30 seconds of Irresponsible Hate Anthem, “We hate love, we love hate,” and you’ll hear the arrow in the side of the Seattle scene, the bullet in Pearl Jam’s flannel covered chest. A new era of mass hysteria and corrupted youth minds and black mascara and red lipstick and nine inch long nails (get it?).
It’s been 20 years since its release and an album that sent such shockwaves across the media hasn’t been replicated since (aside maybe the Marshal Mathers LP in 2000). Think about 1996 for a second: The internet we know today was a fetus of an idea, the Chicago Bulls were winning title after title, and the world was more worried about the next Spice Girls single and the N64. So when a degenerate, foul-mouthed, cross-dressing pale skeleton of a man grabs the microphone and points out the flaws of the American society, you either loved it or you hated it.
His name in itself - “Marilyn Manson” - sums up everything that he stood for. Showing the dichotomy between Marilyn Monroe, the supermodel actress, and Charles Manson, infamous serial killer from the 1960’s. His 1996 magnum opus Antichrist Superstar, was his thesis statement of “anti-everything.” This thesis statement is never more prevalent than on the single "The Beautiful People," the middle finger to every person obsessed with beauty and the aesthetic and vanity and materialism.
“He is easier to believe in than God these days” – Devoted Manson fan
Marilyn Manson never made the “heaviest” record or the “angriest” record or the most “emotional” record, but god damnit he made the most “evil” records. And the American youth seemed to be looking for its next icon to grasp on to, to bring up and call their own (well, at least the outcasts of the youth). In retrospect the picketing of his concerts and all of the bad publicity surrounding Manson for corrupting the minds of the youth (never more prevalent than during 1999 in the wake of Columbine), all made Marilyn Manson and his music and his persona that much more intriguing, attractive, and alluring. Every lyric, every stage antic, every vulgar display of expression was deliberate, and thought out, and purposeful.
“I like to experiment with people’s fears, to see what motivates them, what scares them. And at the same time mock the whole sensationalism of it all anyways. Sometimes it seems like I am trying to be shocking but I’m mocking the fact that people take it so shocking. Sometimes it’s easier to get things across to people if you say it in a way that gets their attention.” – Manson, Much Music Interview 1996
Antichrist Superstar still sounds fresh, still sounds just as visceral as it did in 1996. It could still scare the right kid if played loud enough, or by just playing the music video to the song Tourniquet. Even though the album itself has some less than great tracks and the overall length is also daunting, the idea and the cultural impact it had in 1996 still holds up as a time machine, and snap shot into the culture and society of mid-90’s America. Corrupted, bloated, materialistic, obsessed with sex, greed, and vanity. Wait, is this 1996 or 2016?
by Andy WIlcox (@wilco204)