There was a time when Marilyn Manson seduced certain intellectual circles. Illustrious minds with twisted tastes, like filmmakers David Lynch and Tim Burton, actor Shia LaBeouf, documentary filmmaker and pop host Michael Moore, and industrial rock guru and frontman of Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor. All admired the dark personality of Brian Hugh Warner, Manson’s real name, who was born in Ohio. Lynch once said that he thought the musician was a “sensational artist”. Maybe he was, with albums like the platinum record Antichrist Superstar (1997) and songs including Beautiful people.
But today, Manson’s aura has faded: to his artistic decadence have been added allegations of sexual and psychological abuse by several women, including former partners including actors Evan Rachel Wood and EsmÃ© Bianco and model Ashley Morgan Smithline.
Last month, Rolling stone published a thorough investigation focus on claims Title Marilyn Manson: the monster hidden in plain sight, which contains terrifying passages. EL PAÃS contacted one of the reporters, Kory Grow, who politely declined to comment, “preferring to let the reporting in the article speak for itself.” In the article, several women expose the alleged abuse they suffered. Many of them took place in a small, soundproof room in Manson’s old West Hollywood apartment, which they call the “bad girl room”. Lawsuits have been filed and the investigation is ongoing. Two weeks ago, police raided the singer’s mansion for evidence.
The singer’s provocative character over his 30-year career has now taken on a truly sinister tone. In 2009, Manson told The Guardian, âFear is something I instill in other people, mainly young girls. No one clung to his pearls. After all, it was Marilyn Manson, a well-known boastful and provocative. His first album, Portrait of an American Family (1994), ends with the song Machine of misery. At the end of the song, a voice message from a mother worried about her son is added in a burlesque tone. At this time, Manson was just starting out and in order to keep in touch with his many fans, he would ask for their addresses at the end of concerts to send in photos and promotional material.
The voicemail message at the end of Misery Machine reads, “I want my son removed from your mailing list, I have already contacted the post office regarding your pornographic material received in the mail, my next stop is my attorney. I don’t want this number called anymore, and I don’t want to receive anything at my address. If I receive anything else from this group, or from this group, my next phone call will be my lawyer, and you will be contacted. Thank you and goodbye! âAnother of the complainants, model Sarah McNeilly, said Rolling stone: âThe physical violence was almost a relief. Like, the mental shit he puts you through, that he infects your brain with, that he brainwashes you with, you just want that to stop.
Manson’s success was forged in two directions in the 1990s: carving out a place in the new metal wave of the time and projecting a bloody and macabre image. His plan was based on provocation, and the gruesome videos broadcast on television allowed him to enter the homes of the American public. Its attacks on religion, its messages about a population alienated by power and a predilection for seedy sadomasochism have proven too much for more conservative families. They placed a target on his back.
At the same time, a group of respected artists felt drawn to its turbulent image and its dissenting stance. Among these was Trent Reznor, whose admirers were David Bowie, who signed him to his label. And David Lynch, who included Reznor’s cover of a song by Screamin Jay Hawkins, I put a Spell on You, in his 1997 film Lost highway. Manson’s relationship with Lynch went well for a while: in 2010, they unveiled a joint exhibit titled Genealogies of Pain. Manson provided paintings of warped characters, and Lynch created videos to go with them.
In 2002, Manson took part in Michael Moore’s documentary Bowling for Colombine. During the film, there is a segment that serves as a barometer of Manson’s popularity around this time. In search of an unwitting ideologue for the tragedy that claimed the lives of 12 students when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, both 18, opened fire on Columbine High School with far right pointing at Manson . Why? They claimed that the shooters were fans of the musician and that his words, statements and aesthetics were a bad influence on them. They did not provide any evidence for this. Moore interviewed Manson in a sort of locker room hallway, possibly a makeshift hallway used at a concert he gave at a sports venue. As Manson provided explanations as to why he was chosen, Moore, the bane of American conservatism, nodded. Manson convinced him. He was talkative, intelligent, a perfect guinea pig used to provide a smokescreen so that a country with high levels of violence that sells assault rifles in supermarkets need not be held accountable. This is what Moore hinted at with his assent, nodding his head.
Musically, Manson’s two greatest works were Antichrist Superstar (1996) and Sacred wood (2000). Of these, music critic Alec Chillingworth wrote in the genre’s seminal magazine, Metal hammer: “It is a gigantic artistic achievement that will go down in history as Manson’s defining statement.” But perhaps Manson’s most popular songs are his covers of other bands’ classics, like Sweet dreams by Eurythmics; Depeche Mode’s Personal jesus; Tainted Love by Soft Cell, or Patti Smith’s Rock and roll nigger.
Manson’s music is best understood in a concrete period, from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, when heavy metal modernized and borrowed the sounds and rhythms of industrial and electronic music. By the late 2000s, Manson’s popularity was starting to wane. His boast was no longer dangerous and his erratic behavior brought his concerts down to the realm of caricature. Reznor had long since distanced himself, recounting Mojo magazine: “He’s a malicious guy who will cross any line of decency and dab on anyone’s face to be successful.”
Manson’s attorneys have âcategoricallyâ denied the charges against the singer, and he wrote on Instagram: âMy intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners. No matter how – and why – others now choose to distort the past, it is the truth. Manson’s ex-wife Dita Von Teese also gave her opinion following the allegations: “The details made public do not correspond to my personal experience,” said the actor and fashion designer. When the allegations first came to light, Manson’s manager resigned and his record company fired him. The musician has no concerts planned in the coming months.
His last public appearance, on November 1, was remarkable to say the least. Fully dressed in white, hooded and with his face almost fully covered, Manson joined Justin Bieber and Kanye West in one of the surreal musical masses the rapper holds every three months. West described these gatherings, which he calls the Sunday service, as a “healing and Christian experience.” And Manson, the cornered messiah of darkness and hell worship, was right there.