8 Times Marilyn Manson Proved The World Wrong
Marilyn Manson is one of the most instantly recognizable figures in the music business. For years he’s been sporting an iconic look: thick, snowy foundation and shadowy eye make-up, oil-black hair and a massive array of gothic clothing. Not only is Manson’s style distinct, it’s also proven problematic, collecting a range of misconceptions and negative societal stigmas. It’s fairly obvious by now that that’s the whole point - to celebrate duality and complexity.
His stage name is one such example, taken from two very different sources: Marilyn Monroe - the famous model and actress and Charles Manson - the infamous cult leader and murderer. It’s the perfect summation of everything for which the musician stands.
Manson is living, breathing proof of the dangers of judging based on appearance. While the world has conjured up one version of Marilyn Manson in its mind, fans know a totally different side to the prolific rocker. Whereas most people see nothing more than what they want to see, Manson has been quietly proving people wrong since the very inception of his career as an artist…
8. He’s Not Depressing – He’s Hilarious
With rasping vocals, devilish lyrics and all of that thick, black make-up, it’s not surprising the casual observer’s immediate reaction would be to dispel Manson as depressing. Entire media crusades have been founded on this very inference, blaming Manson for causing violent teens and fuelling depression and isolation.
Like so often, however, the reality is quite different. Put simply, Manson is downright hilarious - he has a fantastic sense of humour. Even from nearer the start of his career, the pale rocker hasn’t been afraid to have a laugh.
Take this 1998 commercial for the VMAs, for example. The commercial sees actor Ben Stiller and Manson poke fun at each other, with Stiller accusing Manson of trying to be “bad” by wearing mascara and letting his ass hang out on-stage.
7. Through His Collaborations With Other Musicians
Though the most famous example of Manson’s musical collaborations is undoubtedly the time he took to the stage alongside Eminem (performing the rapper’s controversial single The Way I Am which features a lyrical nod to Manson), there are several other notable examples of him appearing with musicians one would not typically expect, proving his huge range of diversity.
The Avril Lavigne song Bad Girl from her self-titled album released in 2013, for example, features substantial vocals from Manson, and the same goes for the song Fancy Bitch by trap artist Gucci Mane. That’s not to the mention the vocal work performed by Manson on a remix of Lady Gaga’s song LoveGame.
Aside from vocal collaborations, Manson has proven himself supportive of artists in other ways. One notable example was when he appeared in the music video for Ugly Boy by South African rap-rave duo Die Antwoord. Manson’s penchant for turning up in weird places is well-documented (he once showed up at a high school to teach music) and the same goes for unexpected places in the music scene.
6. He Started Acting
It’s easy to forget how wrapped up acting is with playing music. It’s called performance for a reason. That being said, there’s still a marked difference between playing songs on stage and appearing on television. There have been countless examples of musicians attempting to make it work on screen Justin Timberlake, Ringo Starr and Beyonce to name a few. The only time Manson managed to materialize on screen, however (outside music videos, of course) was as the centrepiece in news stories, being picked apart and analysed or lambasted and blamed.
It was pretty surprising, then, when Manson began creeping into acting roles and even more surprising when he actually turned out to be good. One of his more notable roles was as himself in the hit comedy drama Californication. From there he continued to climb, with a recurring role as Ron Tully in Sons Of Anarchy.
More recently, Manson is set to appear in one of his most ambitious projects yet, as Native American hit man Pope in indie film Let Me Make You A Martyr. As Manson’s on-screen presence grows, so too does he continue to redefine the world’s perception of who he is. Gone are the days of Manson as merely a cartoonish villain, and good riddance to them.
5. He Has A Great Relationship With His Father
The image of the pained musician with a troubled paternal relationship is a bit of a cliché, but it’s not entirely devoid of legitimacy. There are many, many fantastic musicians with complicated relationships with their father. Adele, for example - whose father left when she was just three years old once stated that if she ever sees him again she’ll “spit in his face”. Courtney Love has had a prolonged media battle with her father after he supposedly gave her LSD as a young child. And that’s not to mention the infamous actions of Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson’s father. Heck, even Mozart had a terrible relationship with his father Leopold, who tried to stop Mozart from moving to Vienna where many of his masterpieces were composed.
Looking at Manson, then, you can almost sense how much the media would delight in pinning his unique actions and aesthetic down to “daddy issues”. But the truth is, Manson has a wonderful relationship with his father. The most notable example of this came in early 2015 when his dad surprised him at a photo shoot for Paper Magazine decked out in full Manson-esque face make-up, but there are other examples as well, like Manson’s statement in a 2015 interview with The Guardian that they had supported one another after his mother’s death.
4. He Gets Blamed For Atrocity But Still Manages To Keep His Cool
Everyone knows about Manson’s bizarre connection to the Columbine Massacre, a horrific event that took place in April 1999 at Columbine High School when two students armed with guns murdered thirteen people and injured many more. At the time, Manson was nearing the height of his popularity, and it was easy for the media to latch onto his image and music as reason for the teenagers’ twisted actions.
Though the Columbine Massacre is undoubtedly the most famous act of violence often blamed on Manson, he recently stated in an interview with Larry King that he has probably been blamed for about thirty-six school shootings. That’s not to mention a whole host of other accusations, such as inciting Satanism and devil worship.
While many musicians would likely hit back aggressively at such slander (and who can blame them?) Manson’s reaction is quite different, a mixture of resignation and disappointment. Of course, the most well-known example of this subdued reaction is seen in the Michael Moore documentary Bowling For Columbine, but it’s interesting to watch the Larry King interview mentioned before, which took place over a decade later. What’s clear is that Manson hasn’t grown bitter - he’s just as disheartened by the whole thing as before.
3. He Starred In A Comedy Film
Premiering at the 2013 Sundance Film Fesitval, Wrong Cops is a French-America indie comedy directed by Quentin Dupieux, and tells the story of a bunch of cops, one who love drugs, one who loves sexually abusing people and one who dreams of becoming the next techno maestro. If this sounds strange, don’t worry – it totally is.
The action kicks off when the protagonist of the film, Duke, accidentally shoots someone and attempts to dispose of the body. As mentioned, Manson has had acting roles before, and even managed to self-referentially poke fun at himself, but seeing him with dental braces and dressed like a teenage skater is something else entirely.
Who’d have thought that the self-proclaimed Antichrist Superstar would one day appear in comedy movies? If this doesn’t prove that Manson doesn’t take himself seriously, nothing will.
2. He Exposed Hypocrites By Being Successful
There’s nothing more satisfying than outing an hypocrite – and that’s exactly what Manson did in 2003 with his album The Golden Age Of Grotesque. In 1999 the American supermarket chain Walmart took a stance against Manson, deciding not to sell any of his music. The more popular Manson became, however, the more difficult it was for Walmart to ignore him.
With the release of the massively successful The Golden Age Of Grotesque, they began selling the record in massive quantities, proving to the world that companies don’t care about integrity when there’s money involved. Obviously there’s no integrity in banning Manson anyway - suffocating freedom of artistic expression is a pretty futile act - but it highlighted just how quick the company was to back peddle whenever they stood to make a profit.
If that’s not shameful enough, Walmart’s excuse didn’t even try to mask their motivation. They stated it was okay to sell the record because it had suddenly become commercially viable. Once again, Manson proved the world wrong just by being Manson.
1. He Returned To Form
Though entirely subject to opinion, critical consensus in recent years has been that Manson has lost his way. Much of the shock element of his music has naturally faded, replaced by more culturally relevant performers (such is the nature of fame). This prolonged confusion over Manson’s position in the music scene appeared to seep into the music itself, for a while it seemed that Manson was attempting to recreate the magic of the past, a magic that simply didn’t hold the same weight as it once did.
Recently, however, Manson has reclaimed critical acclaim. Though not relevant to the many who continued to love his music regardless, the release of The Pale Emperor once again turned the heads of critics and disillusioned fans alike. By jettisoning attempts to shock and focusing primarily on song-writing, Manson has been praised as writing some of his grittiest, darkest songs in well over a decade. The man is truly back on form, showing the world that he was never just about shock in the first place.