Oh, Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson has a new video. It’s for a song that has two (two!) curse words in the title. You can watch it here. He stole the beat from Shania Twain and the stage-dressing from, er, himself. Twelve years ago.*

I just watched Manson’s performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in 97, which I loved when I was in seventh grade (I had a bootleg), and, I have to hand it to him–I’m retroactively shocked. I don’t know that I’m shocked so much at his comment about being free from the “fascism of Christianity” (that was nothing new, not even back in 97) as I am with how purposefully uncomfortable his stage presence is. Manson’s always been a pretty talented showman, and he sells the point of “The Beautiful People” by making himself as ugly as possible, particularly in the chorus when he bends his body into an awkward slumping scarecrow.

Of course, Manson also promised to free us from “the fascism of beauty” and subsequently dated Rose McGowan, Dita VonTeese, and that one girl who was like seven back when Manson was famous.

Not sure how they fit into Manson’s aesthetic, but let’s hope he keeps fighting the good fight against hypocrisy.

All that aside, I appreciate some of Manson’s music from a musical standpoint, and he’s a fairly bright and reasonable human being–dig his appearance in Bowling for Columbine, where he makes several interesting points, and it’s particularly nice to hear that he thinks it’s disturbing that he has more influence over young people than then-President Clinton. Manson tries to play it off and act like Clinton enjoyed more influence over America’s depressed teenagers in 1998, which is a pretty weak argument, but it does make me wonder how such things happen. Marilyn Manson certainly didn’t begin his career with the intention of shaping the thoughts and hearts of teenagers, no matter what certain fearmongerers may have tried to sell you.

If I remember correctly, what attracted me to Marilyn Manson was the vague aura of evil and rebellion that he and his record label surrounded him with. It was a sort-of ambiguous thing, though, a darkness based mostly on used medical equipment, skinny androgyny, and the colors black and red. I remember being very, very disappointed in Mechanical Animals when it came out–eighth grade–because it seemed “soft” at the time, particularly compared to the stuff that Limp Bizkit were doing (I’m not trying to be funny). Watching the video for “The Dope Show” now, though, and soft isn’t really the right word for what all’s going on–cops in pink uniforms making out with each other; a naked, unisexual Manson; that weird rigor mortis dance he’s always done; red sequins and white face masks and Manson looking more like Jar Jar Binks than Bowie as he approaches the mic. It’s more of a thrown-together, meaningless assortment of creepy/offensive images that kinda/sorta relate to one another but mostly just fire nervous neurons when they pop up. It’s the right kind of offensive for MTV: quick, flashy, shallow, and meant to provoke a knee-jerk reaction. It’s not surprising that it didn’t last.

*Holy crap, Shania Twain stole the outfit from Manson! Seriously, nice leather corsets, everyone.

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