Marilyn Manson and the Remarkable Revenge of the Rejected
Part 1 -Test Pattern; and a little background mythology
"Now I'm askin' you as a person -
is it a crime, is it a crime,
for you to fall in love with Frankenstein?"
--The New York Dolls, "Frankenstein," 1971
This begins with disappointment, but rises from it.
Here's its pattern:
The world is not the brightly colored place of bizarre wonders that you see on Saturday morning. People, both family and friends, appear vile and do vile things. Mom and Dad don't always look out for you. With more time and experience the sense of betrayal deepens as its range widens. Everywhere one can unearth hypocrisy and lies. Things not only aren't what they ought to be, they're not even what they pretend to be.
Disappointment hurts; betrayal breaks trust. There's no understanding why things lie, why reality lets you down so bitterly, why those who should love and take care of you can abuse, neglect, punish and ignore. And the hurt and broken trust form resentment. You turn your back, take the first step away from the source of it all.
Resentment breeds defiance. If the whole world can't be what you want, your immediate world can. Surround yourself with toys, artifacts and images, and choose your clothes with care. Defiance draws more abuse, but abuse makes it stronger. Defiance rejects the source in all ways: its culture, appearance, mores, creed. The source responds with rejection, bigotry and hate.
Abused and assaulted defiance spirals downward into rage. Rage spirals down and down into hate as pure as alchemical glass. Hate spins on itself, craving and starving to destroy. The darkest darkness, where you know yourself as the incarnation of all the villains you feared. The crucible of hellfire.
From hell you can only rise, there's no further down. But the rising spirit is hate now pure: righteous wrath, justice. The desire to return full circle, to confront the abusers and betrayers with all the strength you've gained, to accuse and avenge. On behalf not only of yourself but of all the others, all the children like you, all the wounded and outcast. You cannot ignore what you have made, it says - here it is to face you, look you in the eye and demand its due. What you made was a monster, but yours all the same, and it deserved better from you than it got. There is true right and wrong without gray, sometimes, and here it is: you cannot escape the crime of abandoning and abusing the innocent trust of those who had a right to that trust. You cannot hide from its stare.
And that's its beauty, that's what's still at the core of this hellbent, blistering, relentless revenge - the keenness of a child's baffled hurt. You remember: nothing that's happened to you since then has hurt as much as things did when you were little, when you didn't understand why they happened, and your feelings were simpler and more direct. This is still just that way, the memory's as sharp as a claw, none faded.
Why are they mad at us? What did we do wrong?
What did we ever do that wasn't just what you told us, or gave us to do, or did yourselves?
Why did you make us if we're not what you wanted? Where can we go if you throw us away?
It's kept its childhood in clear focus, this work of Art; both the gay hallucinatory colors and the senseless cruelty, and it's qualified to speak for children coast to coast. It eats too much sugar and believes in magic. It dresses up and plays make-believe. But it's got all the strength of will and experience of someone years older, and it's spent years working on its hate - and its magick. It is a purebred unstoppable force. It's got the Devil's hand. (And who better for an emblem here - the most famous of all disowned children, Daddy's blackest sheep, defiant prince of outcasts and rejects? None of us would be welcome in heaven...)
---It spits at heaven and starts fires. You made us, it says, and then refused to be responsible for us; we are your fault; we know we are monsters and we hate ourselves and you.
Have any of you read FRANKENSTEIN? The original, not some adaptation of a movie?
If you have, maybe this is beginning to sound familiar. In the novel, the Frankenstein Monster (and never forget that he was created by a teenage girl, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, just 18 years old when she wrote this immortal classic of pity, terror, and alienation) is no speechless brute but an intelligent, eloquent creature. Over and over, while his creator recoils in horror, the Monster pours out his terrible loneliness and pleads for sympathy. He knows, he says with awful honesty, that he's a monstrosity. Everyone who sees him reacts with loathing. Why has Dr. Frankenstein - the only human he knows - never given him a single word of help or education? And where can he go if his creator casts him aside? He has no one and nowhere else. He's every single kid who ever failed to turn out as Mom and Dad wanted. He sounds a lot like we do. Confused, sensitive, nowhere to live but home; trying in painful isolation to understand himself, fit in somehow, explain to an appalled father why he does what he does. And trying, desperately, to find anyone at all to accept him. For just one gesture of kindness from a fellow creature, he swears, he would forgive everything and make peace with all humankind.
But it doesn't come. Frankenstein promises to make a woman to be his companion, but panicks in mid-operation and destroys her. Then, only then, does the Monster become totally bent on murder and destruction. What's left for him? Wouldn't you?
He's ours, he's us, this towering freak - created by a culture of scientific advancement but spiritual ignorance; rejected by a self-absorbed father who saw him only as a technical experiment; intelligent, lonely, horrible. We should adopt him and bring him inside. He's the first Spooky Kid. He turns to hate and rage only when everything proves to be a lie.
...fire and red light filled with smoke: a beacon of sanctuary, a magnet for the disenfranchised, the bent, confused, weird and lonely of the land. This is more than music and spectacle. I remember the first night I spent there, surrounded by fans half my age, fascinated by their energy and intensity. I was grabbed by the conviction that anyplace this band played would become the same ritual space, staked out, made their own for a night by this scruff-elegant pack of true believers. A movable haven, out of time and space, a world between the worlds like a spellcasting circle. Outside the boundary, no one's aware. Inside the boundary, magick happens. Rage boils up like lava and goes home as your souvenir, Hell's red rose.
And running the magick is that tall ungainly creature, awful and beautiful, awkward and graceful, a hating outcast whose hate is more bitter disappointment than evil intent, a perceptive monster who returns from exile to ask why you made a monster of him. The Thing from Hell as abused child. It's a long while since we had such a perfect icon for our time.
...return to main Manson page.