Thoughts on Marilyn Manson: The Comfort Perspective

This essay has been in the works for a long time. For a few years I've been wanting to give my thoughts on Marilyn Manson, but every time I tried, I was dissatisfied with my work. There was always some aspect that was lacking, whether it be the passion of the music, the social commentary, my presentation of myself, or whatever. But for some reason things changed this time, and it is because of a new perspective on the whole experience. So though the scope of this essay is limited, its ramifications are important, and it finally came out!

A few more words of introduction are necessary. I do not look like Marilyn Manson, though I am able to when necessary (like at my one concert experience). I would not call myself a normal person (what is normal, after all?), but I am able to defeat the stereotype that this music appeals only to social misfits.

As my title suggests, I derive a lot of comfort from Marilyn Manson the man, the band, and many other aspects of the situation in general. MM provides a unique opportunity, for it possesses range and versatility. I do not agree with everything the band represents. For instance, I feel that hate is a waste of time, all it does is let someone get to you. The idea of dismissiveness is much more appealing. Discount the adversity in an unemotional way; save your emotion for things that you cherish. Even though I feel this way, I am able to enjoy other aspects of the band. Examples such as this distinguish Manson from the prototypical one dimensional band.

Now, a little more focus. I told you I had a perspective on Manson with regards to comfort, and obviously I feel that my perspective is special in some way, and worth sharing. A main motivation in writing this essay was that I had not seen this view expressed anywhere else, so now enough about me and my ramblings.

I have a Manson poster in my dorm room. It is the one where he has his hands folded, and there is a halo over his head. This poster represents much of what I am about to say, and I will refer back to it within this essay. Let me say now that this poster gives me a sense of comfort, of peace. It allows me to find sanctity in what I feel Marilyn Manson represents.

So what does he represent? I think about all the interviews I've seen, where he seems so untouchable. He has determined what he wants to believe, and the words of others are not able to sway him from that. He never appears at odds with the person who is attacking him, in fact he is quite polite. He knows that he is different,and takes pride in it without being overly obtrusive. A lot of people call this close mindedness, but I disagree. There are so many influences in the world today, it is practically impossible to live a complete, happy life without ruling out some of these influences. To rule something out does not mean to think about something every time it comes up. Make a decision, and move on. Marilyn seems to have done that.

I think this is a quality that a lot of Manson's younger fans admire. He is dynamic and yet solid in what he represents; he believes in certain things and yet he is ever changing (a simple examination of the maturity growth from Portrait to ACS reveals this). Because of his steadfastness, he is often asked to justify his actions, and take responsibility for the actions of others. This seems silly to me. Very simply, why should he? Why should anyone?

Then there are the other interviews. The one I am thinking of is when that R & B group who recorded with him called his music a 'turd' or something like that. He sat there saying he didn't care, but I think it was fairly obvious that he was hurt by their comments. I sat there thinking, 'Wow. This is the man who everyone says is so callous, so set in antisocial behavior. Yet there he sits, the artist who loves his work and hates to see it condemned. After all Marilyn Manson has done, THIS BOTHERS HIM.' I thought that was pretty neat. I think the concept that there is a man behind all this makeup and glamour frightens a lot of people. They want him to be contrary without actually CHOOSING to be contrary. They fail to understand that people's personalities push them to do things; it does not just happen by itself.

Marilyn says quite often that he was created by the world around him. This is true to an extent, but I think he is more than a simple result. He is also a cause. Perhaps this statement is key. What does Marilyn Manson cause? He gives his fans, at the very least, something to think about. At the most, he gives them a sense that they are part of a special group that sees things the rest of the world does not. And what about those who do not like Manson, those who find him offensive and sick? He makes them think, he makes them decide what they believe in and stand up for it. This is a good thing. Granted, this is unfair to Manson, but at least they are being forced to take a stand for what they believe. And Manson seems willing to play the role of the sacrificial lamb. We do the same thing when we defend Marilyn Manson. He makes everyone determine what they feel is right, and forces people to either stand with him or against him. He is the only one who doesn't take a side (hence the lyric), because he is the fulcrum around which the confusion and the bickering revolve.

So overall, I see Marilyn Manson as nothing but a good thing. And I like him, so it is to those people like myself to who I speak now, because these are the people who are on the threshold of a wonderful realization.

Marilyn Manson is not about loser kids who have nothing. When one becomes involved with this music, one is able to see the world in an entirely different way: from the point of view of someone who knows he stands for something. Alienation and loneliness is left behind, replaced by a sense that you know what is wrong with the world, and have the power to fix it if you want to. And you are reinforced in every step you take, by the influence of a man who wants to bring about a sort of mental Armageddon, a man who wants to change the world. A lot of people are frightened by this concept, assuming it refers to a literal apocalypse. But is not Manson referring to the beginning of a new era, a time when all the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of the world are not only acknowledged, but eliminated? This is far from pessimism; it is in fact the elimination of pessimism. And Marilyn Manson wants to enact this at once, and you have the chance to make it happen ... How can this be anything but a beautiful concept? To me it is, and it gives me great comfort.

So when I see this poster, perhaps I see something different than a lot of people. I see a beacon, I see a philosophical standpoint that has been building for a long time, and appears to have manifested itself in the figure of Marilyn Manson. I can understand why a lot of people are frightened, but I believe it is because they are ignorant. And it is so easy to become aware of what is really going on, because Manson is real. It is a simple quality to be up front and say what you mean, and he has it. Perhaps it is unfortunate that this honesty alone attracts so many people to the forefront of the Manson crusade. Simple honesty has such power. I'm sure the anti-Manson groups notice this, and I'm sure they are disappointed that one of the few public figures who have this quality represents everything that they hate. They see people flocking to him, and they wonder why.

It is simply because he is insightful, and he is one of the few public figures left who says 'YOU can make a difference. You are a star if you want to be.' The failure of these groups to recognize this is very unfair. They are not inherently flawed, but they need to be rebuilt from the inside out. And this is precisely Manson's point. The era of what has been called 'open mindedness' is over. People are forced to choose sides or become lost. This is Manson's mental Armageddon, and every protest, and every oppression brings it closer and closer. People are gradually becoming more and more aware that they can change this. The world needs to be revealed for what it is so it can be remade. Marilyn is doing the revealing, but the remaking can only be achieved by numerous people (perhaps those who he calls 'My beautiful people'?) who have seen what is revealed, and want to do something about it. Marilyn Manson is just so much bigger than someone simply bitching about the world.
Some of us understand this. We are a small group. Not all Manson fans understand it, and I'm sure there are people who know nothing about Marilyn Manson who are in the group as well. It is the message that is the key. Didn't Manson once say something like 'I am the messenger, not the message'?

And of course there is the possibility that Manson did not intend all of this. There is an annoyingly large segment of people who claim that if people see something in an artistic work that the artist did not put there intentionally, it is not valid. Why? What importance is the intentions of the messenger in comparison to the message? The meaning of Marilyn Manson may be bigger than the band or the man. It has been brewing for a long time.
I think Generation X, as it is called now, is sick of being lost. It is sick of floundering, of having no real meaning in a world that is so vast. Marilyn Manson says 'Change the world.' Maybe this is the voice that this generation needs to hear.
I used to think that if Manson cut his hair and made masses-friendly music, he would be considered another John Lennon. But why should he? Why should he take responsibility for an entire generation? Then again, why should he not? Isn't it romantically appropriate that the truth comes from the misfits, like Shakespeare's Fool? Everyone can learn something from this group, whether they like or hate it. Doesn't it speak wonders about religion, society, and everything else?

So when I say that Marilyn Manson is a great comfort to me, I also say that I don't see how anyone cannot see him in the same way. He is truly All-American, basing his existence on the same foundations the country was built on. The world has added the 'Antichrist.' This is where he is a product, and I find it very sad that this man can see himself as flawed. But he is not immune, he is influenced just as anyone is influenced. He stands up on stage caked in makeup and saliva, and people don't get it. They could all be on the edge of a grand realization, if they were only able to see.

Unfortunately, the tour is over now, and this essay is coming at the tail end of all the hype. Perhaps that is a good thing, because when the next album comes, maybe people will be so numb to the controversy that they will be able to see what is really going on.

I see all this when I look at my poster. I used to think the halo was a little ironic. But now I think it belongs there. Maybe he could save us all, if we were willing to listen.

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