INTRODUCTION Americans wake up each day to the sounds of another gunshot killing in the east and another teenage suicide in the west. Such sensational news is often glorified and often exaggerated by the local media. When incomprehensible things like these happens, the first question that everyone would ask is "What is the motivation?"ÃÂ Naturally, a scapegoat has to be made to take all the blame. It is human nature. To blame something for causing something else to happen. If not, we will feel all too uncomfortable. We will feel as though a question is left unanswered and thus we try to link every minute detail of an event to the cause of another, even though sometimes they have little or no parity at all.
Music is often made the scapegoat for teenage violent conducts. Whenever there's a teenage related massacre, suicide and murder, it's amazing how media practitioners can link even the slightest coincidence of the atrocity to music and blame it on the artiste.
According to a Reuters's report, listening to music took up seventy percent of total entertainment time spent by adolescents between the age of 13-22 . It was also noted that the same age group is by far the "ÃÂmost active music listener', making up over fifty percent of the target audience on US radio stations.
With such telling statistics, it is difficult to escape the criticisms about how music can influence adolescents' behaviour. But there has yet to be any prove linking teenage violence with listening to music. In fact, previous studies have shown that television, being more visually captivating, influences adolescent more than any other forms of media.
Nonetheless, it is difficult for music to escape the wrath of critics. It's like if an artiste is making weird music, people call it "ÃÂsatanic'. But when weird movies are made, the director or producer is hailed as producing "ÃÂa piece of art'.
Over the last two decades, a lot of artistes and bands had been labelled "ÃÂsatanic' by religious groups as well as the by the media. Bands like Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Sex Pistols, ACDC, KISS had always have to endure the criticisms of the general public. Sale of their albums and concerts will be banned and listening to their music is likened to committing a crime.
More recently, American grunge group, Marilyn Manson, is currently the American media's icon of Satanism. The release of the album Antichrist Superstar in 1996 was met with heavy criticisms and severe public outcry, especially from religious activists . But Manson himself claimed that the album is just a reflection of the American society.
This thesis aims to study the album, Antichrist Superstar, produced and written by the controversial and much maligned artiste, Marilyn Manson. It will also examine the life of Manson and the circumstances that lead to his current transformation. What is his motivation in making Antichrist Superstar? Why do religious group call for his head? And finally, why do teenagers embrace him like a new religion and propel him into a God-like status? Anti-Christ Superstar or Saviour of America? BACKGROUND Before we delve into the controversies and issues surrounding Marilyn Manson, we first have to take a look at Manson's history.
Marilyn Manson was born Brian Warner on January 5, 1970. Growing up Brian and his cousin, Chad were both looked after by their grandparents during the school week. This was where Brian discovered startling secrets about his grandfather, who would return in his nightmares during the creation of Antichrist Superstar.
Brian Warner went to Heritage Christian School, where he was exposed to one sided religious seminars every Friday afternoon. These seminars also discussed the influence of rock bands on youth. Rock was strictly forbidden within school walls. Ms. Price, the teacher who gave the seminars, also spoke often of the Antichrist, and the mark of the beast. Brian was terrified of the Antichrist, and had nightmares constantly. He was confused by the Antichrist, and feared becoming it.
Brian, being fed up of the authoritarian-styled of the school, began to act up in school, to get kicked out. His parents would not let him go to public school, so he rebelled. He began by selling candy (candy was not allowed in school), made a six page magazine, called Stupid (selling them for 25 cents each) and sold tapes of rock music. On those occasions, he was caught, suspended but never expelled.
Finally, he placed a sex toy onto the desk of Ms. Price. The principal, Ms. Cole, did not expel him, or mention the dildo to his parents, but talked to them about discipline, and instilling the fear of God into him. With that, he discovered the school needed the money each student brought into it and that he would never be expelled - he would just have to walk away.
At the age of 18, Brian began to write short stories and poems. He conned his way in to the 25th Parallel by telling the editors he had written nationally and became Senior Editor. Brian interviewed numerous bands, including Trent Reznor (his close friend and mentor), and Nine Inch Nails. What he never expected was that a year later, after his band was formed, Manson would be Nine Inch Nails opening act.
After his poetry stopped being printed, Brian decided on another way to voice his opinion. He convinced Jack Kearnie, owner of The Squeeze, a local club, to have an open-mike night. There, he would speak his piece of mind awkwardly in front of an audience. From there, a band was born.
It was that stint that he met Stephen Bier Jr., who would later become Madonna Wayne Gacy, Jeordie White, who was to be Twiggy Ramirez, Scott Putesky, who was later Daisy Berkowitz. and Brad Stewart who was to be Gidget Gein for completion. They were called Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids.
The name Marilyn Manson was chosen because he felt that the name adeptly described the paradoxes in an American culture. A point he had always wanted to prove through forming the band and writing songs.
"Nothing is just black or just white. I combined the word "ÃÂMarilyn' (Monroe) as the white, positive aspect, the light, with the word (Charles) "ÃÂManson', which is the black, negative aspect. Light and darkness, life and death are simply two inseparable parts of life. Without darkness you wouldn't know the light and without evil, you wouldn't know what's good,"ÃÂ he explained.
Soon after the band was created, the "ÃÂdying' Brian Warner became the vibrant, unexplainable, Marilyn Manson, the most defiant musician to ever appear in history.
With the Spooky Kids, Manson wrote and produced Portrait of an American Family, which was their debut album.
In 1995, Marilyn Manson began on a project, which was seen as the peak of his career by many. The album Antichrist Superstar was in creation. During this period of time, Manson's life, and band was falling apart.
Controlled by drugs and sex, the band did little work on the album at all. Manson's goal was less and less becoming a reality. A trip to the hospital for an overdose put things back into perspective. Within the hospital bed, Manson assessed the damage being done, to himself, and the band, and returned with a new vision in mind. Leaving drugs out of the picture, Manson rebuilt the band, and finished the ground-breaking album that was his dream. There was to be no more self-destruction. Marilyn Manson - the person and the band - is back to stay. Antichrist Superstar was released in 1996.
The record is glamorous and received huge publicity, partly due to it's controversial nature. The album is often described as having the trademark Manson's dark essence of song writing with thoughts of cynicism and self irony littered in between. The band became more mainstream than ever, and had finally been acknowledged musically, much to the loath of religious groups and politicians.
Marilyn Manson has left a solid impression with his fans and his enemies. The band is different, but the message is still the same. The God of Shock Rock, Marilyn Manson, has made his mark, his goal is slowly becoming a reality.
ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR - THE OVERVIEW Marilyn Manson has always reiterated that the album Antichrist Superstar is "ÃÂnot created to make a mockery out of the religion'.
"I've never been or never will be a Satan Worshipper, or someone who worships the Devil,"ÃÂ he added.
Chuck Weiner (2000) noted that the album is both biographical and philosophical and that people should look beyond the title of the album. It invokes pain, fear, frustration and helplessness at the creation of the Antichrist Superstar.
At first glance, Antichrist Superstar did sound nothing more like an album with an attention seeking title though it's thought provoking lyrics chronologically explained and illustrated the motivation of the album and the creation of that motivation. On closer examination of the lyrics, it is becoming evident that it is actually a self-fulfilling prophecy, as well as an autobiographical representation of Manson, from the young Brian Warner, into a nihilistic Antichrist Superstar he is today. Chuck Weiner (2000) also explained that the metamorphosis is exhibited throughout the album "ÃÂfrom the vivid imagery of a small worm' (when he was a child) that "ÃÂgradually grows wings to become a terrifying angel'.
"It (the album) is something very personal, an evolution about the Antichrist Superstar,"ÃÂ Manson said in an interview with Time Out Magazine.
In the following parts to come, we will look at how the life experiences of Brian Warner, from childhood to adulthood, contributed to the creation of the Antichrist Superstar album.
PART I: EVOLUTION OF ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR "ÃÂ BRIAN WARNER THE CHURCH AND BRIAN WARNER The sonic haze that opens "The Beautiful People" signals the chronological beginning of the album. It's like a roller coaster ride to the mid 1970's as a young Brian Warner began to observe the world around him. It's clear from the start that, for Brian, there is something very wrong with the way the society around him is working.
This song was written in such a way that it was spoken from both the point of view of one of the beautiful people, and from a narrative viewpoint explaining them to you.
"Don't bother to resist or I'll beat you.
It's not you fault that you're always wrong.
The weak ones are there to justify the strong"ÃÂ, the lyrics read.
This is a society where the strong abuse the weak, and when the weak try to resist or question the authority, they are beaten into submission. At the forefront of this cycle of abuse is the Christian church, in which Brian was raised as a child. Neil Strauss gathered that the church taught Brian one important lesson - what is beautiful is what has power. Beauty might not be taken at face value. It could be someone with the ability to persuade and dissuade, in the process, charming and mesmerising the audience. Brian realised this during a religious class when the priest singled him out as a bad example because he was listening to heavy metal and punk rock music. The words of the priest made him being ostracised by his school mates .
In the process the priest consolidated his position as the holy, father figure while further condemning Brian to a rebellious, problem kid.
The beautiful people are the ones who can make the weak submit to their will, the ones who make and enforce the rules by which the world must play. In his world, it was the church that wielded this ultimate power, "ÃÂcreating a morality which it can then force the rest of the world to accept', explained Weiner . It was such ability of the strong to dictate the morality of the weak that became the very rule that Brian would use later in his life to bring the church down.
THE MOTHER AND BRIAN WARNER Like every other children, the young Brian craved for attention. He often played prankster in class, sometimes to the teacher, resulting in him being hauled up in front of the headmistress and his parents . Little did his parents know that it was their attention he was seeking all along.
In "Dried Up Tied Up and Dead to the World" he shed some light about his relationship with his mother. It being one of the most biographical songs on the album, and one of the hardest to interpret as it was directly referencing to one of Brian Warner's greatest influences in life - his mother. The maternal imagery of this song is potent and it could be referring to all mothers in general.
"Cake on some more make-up to cover all those lines", the lyrics read.
The object of the song is an ageing female (Brian's mother) who ignored much of what went on in his life, choosing to put on her make-up and make believe like it was everything was going on fine, observed Gavin Baddeley . The fruit and seed imagery of the song recalled the process of reproduction - the fruit that is Brian growing from the seeds his mother planted.
"You take but cannot be given.
You ride but cannot be ridden.
Pinch this tiny heart of mine.
Wrap in up in soiled twine.
You never read what you've read written", screamed Manson in "Dried Up"ÃÂ.
The lines "you'll never read what you've written" seemed to point to the process of parenting itself. Parents 'write" their children as an author would write a book, creating the character that is their child.
"So if we end up scarred, burned, and utterly devoid of hope, who's the author of that story?"ÃÂ asked Weiner . And it became clear that no matter what he did, his mother never see what it was they have created.
"We are born as a blank sheet of paper, and it is our parents that write the first words in our minds. Our parents create our psyches from whole cloth, they shape and mould us from the minute we are born,"ÃÂ said Manson in an interview with Hit Parader Magazine .
In the later stages of the song "Dried Up" it was getting apparent that the lack of his mother's love was all encompassing, consuming and almost suffocating.
"But what happens if parent's love is so claustrophobic that the child becomes suffocated, unable to respond to love at all?"ÃÂ added Manson. The repeated images of being invaded, felt from the inside, of being torn apart were graphic and poignant. In response to this crushing emotion, Brian felt trapped, unsure of how to respond. He wanted to feel his mother's love more than anything in the world, and will do or be anything he can to get it. But nothing he did work, and the end result is a deadening of emotion that leaves him cut off from love altogether.
"I'll be your lover.
I'll be forever.
I'll be tomorrow.
I am anything when I'm high... " sung Manson in "Dried Up"ÃÂ.
It seemed that the only way he got through this childhood was to be high all the time. Brian's life had always been revolved around drugs ever since he was only eleven and he had to be hospitalised for an overdose when he was thirteen. His drug antics carried on until before the production of Antichrist Superstar.
How would one handle such oblivion without being oblivious? questioned Weiner . He also noted that if the child spent his time intoxicated, he can be whatever anyone needed him to be without regret or remorse, "All dried up and tied up, forever .
All fucked up and dead to the world", the lyrics read THE GRANDFATHER AND BRIAN WARNER In all the books I've read about Brian Warner, his grandfather was always mentioned. It is a well-known fact (he repeatedly talked to the press) that he had a strange and abusive relationship with his grandfather, Jack. And he displayed how strained the relationship was in "Kinderfeld". . In the song, it portrayed several different voices speaking up to tell a tale of abuse and forced silence.
The song began with an eerie description of an old man who would retire in the garage with pornographic magazines and masturbate in the dark. Brian's toy train set would be switched on to cover up the noise. Brain witnessed that, he was beckoned not to mention the fact to anyone and to make sure that he kept his word, he was punished by abuse.
This man is Grandpa Jack, and it is made quite clear in the opening lines of the song their was something terribly wrong with his relationship with Brian.
"I would tell my parents but nobody would believe me. He (the grandfather) was the one who convinced me that things were supposed to be pure and American. But they weren't,"ÃÂ Brian said when asked about his grandfather's lewd antics .
"He lives inside my mouth and tells me what to say...", the lyrics read.
The voice of the worm, a metaphor Brian used to represent himself when he was young and innocent, came into the song later and begged for "something beautiful ...something free", an escape from the corruption that was hurting him so badly.
Jack's voice itself followed into the story, telling the listeners that the "scab-knees" "ÃÂ a reference to the children "ÃÂ will obey him, and that the children knew that they will have to repent for what they were doing (kneeling on broomsticks is an old Christian ritual of repentance), wrote Strauss .
"He (the grandfather) lived in me, suppressing my feelings, limiting my thoughts. I do fear him but not respect,"ÃÂ answered Manson when asked about his relationship with his grandfather .
It was quite clear that this was moment, this instant of violation and abuse at the hands of his own grandfather, that truly drove a young Brian Warner to "ÃÂmorph into the avenging angel and rock icon he is today' (Baddeley, pp. 55). A small voice in the background confirmed this, as it kept repeating, "then I got my wings and I never even knew it".
A new voice then entered the song, denoted in the lyric sheet as "a voice we have not yet heard". Baddeley believed that that was the voice of the angel, the Antichrist himself, speaking for the first time to the listener. The angel explained that he was forged through the fires of this abuse, that it was this cruel world that made him and drove him.
"Because your lies have watered me, I have become the strongest weed", bemoaned Brian. The song faded into a series of cryptic images of abuse and degradation as we were forced to watch Brian's abuse through Jack's eyes. The boy "ÃÂ the young Brian "ÃÂ cried that there was no one here to save him.
The voice of the disintegrator, the Antichrist, entered again here, ending the song with a potent and predatory mantra.
"This is what you should fear; you are what you should fear", bellowed Brian.
What Brian was most afraid of was what hurt him as a child: sin, evil, immorality and most importantly the lack of love, examined Weiner . But now, Brian has become everything he so hates. He is now the one who does not care or love, the sinner, the dirty rock star and the worm is transformed to the current Marilyn Manson. The disintegrator warned that while we should fear our own destructive behaviour, he is indeed what we should be fearing as well. And with that, the Antichrist is born.
This song certainly tells a great deal about Brian's grandfather and one might often feel disturbed and could almost feel Brian's pain and torment upon closer examination of the song structure and lyrics. It was this crucial point in his life, the turning point, from Brian Warner to Marilyn Manson, that eventually made him the man he so feared, without him even realising it.
PART II: BRIAN WARNER IS MARILYN MANSON THE EVOLUTION PROCESS As a young boy, Brian couldn't see that he had the ability to possess the type of power that the church had - the power to create one's own morality and lifestyle. Now, as a young man, Brian has learned "the number seven" - the number the Christian church uses to symbolise power.
"When a boy is still a worm, it's hard to learn the number seven"ÃÂ, the song "Cryptorchid"ÃÂ.
Brian had learned that power - the power to create his own morality and values, eschewing those of the church. And, although it seemingly destroyed his mother to watch, Brian accepted this power, felt it changing him, and at last becomes Marilyn Manson. Brian Warner's transformation to Marilyn Manson is also evident in the song "Little Horn"ÃÂ. Musically, it is louder, angrier, more distorted than any songs save and it was that anger that could signal the new change that the character Brian was undergoing.
Brian became older in this phase, aware of the patterns of use and abuse that have been going on around him. He saw how society and religion have warped values so that it was impossible to love or be loved, and that he has the power to stop it all, Weiner pointed out. In "Cryptorchid"ÃÂ, we saw the first images of the angel, and the wings that Marilyn grew that symbolised his power to enthral and control the masses. This deformed angel is the overriding image of power throughout the rest of the album, and is the final form that Marilyn will assume.
It was also in this phase that the older Brian became aware of the patterns of use and abuse that had been going on around him. He saw how society and religion have warped values so that it was impossible to love or be loved, and that he believed he could possess the strength, the mentality to stop it, Weiner pointed out.
"There's a tumour in the TV mouth; burn it out before it grows", the lyrics of "Little Horn"ÃÂ read. He had always been critical of the media. He believed that the television is spreading diseases, advising us to truncate it before it's too late.
For the first time, he now realised that he doesn't have to be passive - he could do something. He could influence. He could speak his mind and made what he knew as truth known to many. Thus in "Little Horn", he arose to change the warped values of the world that had so scared him and others like him.
It also served as a glorification of that change, as the other "worms" around him "wait with baited breath" for the One who has the power to change the world. But "Little Horn" was also the last warning to a world about to by overtaken, the final cry to repent or be destroyed by the power that was the Antichrist Superstar.
"Prick your finger it is done.
The moon has now eclipsed the sun.
The angel has spread his wings, the time has come for bitter things", the lyrics read.
That rhyme was in fact an invocation, signalling the precise moment of the metamorphosis, noted Kurt Reighley . Those lines were the album's idee fixe - the repeating phrase that signalled the central event or character of a musical piece. Those lines would be repeated once more in the album, when Marilyn took the leap to an even greater power, the Antichrist.
Though the change in Brain Warner to Marilyn Manson seemed inevitable to him, one could sense that he was reluctant to do so. It was as though if given a chance and choice, he would not do so. In "Deformography" the two sides of Marilyn Manson was portrayed. On one side, there was the human element, innocence, the man who didn't want to corrupt or be corrupted. On the other lies the angel, the rock icon who wants the sex, the filth, the power to manipulate others.
"My desire is to be pure again and not dirtied by the world, But it's my duty to be as ugly and as filthy as I am, so the audience can experience what I have,"ÃÂ explained Manson .
The two voices interweave throughout the song, to sing lines back and forth until, finally, one side emerges as the winner.
The worm imagery returned immediately in the song, as we saw Manson slipped into his new body, pulling on his new skin, assuming a new identity as the old one got eaten away from within.
Marilyn Manson the band squirmed it's way into the belly of America, and "clung like a tenacious parasite, feeding off the scraps that this society threw them"ÃÂ, wrote Reighley . The children no one else catered to, or even cared about, were this band's nutrition. More importantly, they were food for Marilyn Manson the man.
"I'll tear you down like a whore. I will bury your god in my warm spit", the lyrics read.
The voice of the angel, the Antichrist, returns fire, making his goals of destruction clear. The angel wanted nothing to do with humanity - he wanted only to eat, to tear down, to be dirty.
"You eat up my heart and all the little parts.
Your star is so sharp it leaves me jagged holes", As the worm died, Brian Warner died too, and the destructive desire of the angel took over. Nowhere in the song was that transformation more evident than in the repeating lines of "You are the one I want and what I want is so unreal".
As the song ended, the lyrics morph into, "I am the one you want and what I want is so unreal". The "you" became "I", the worm got eaten away by the angel and the angel emerged victorious in the tussle.
Reighley believed this song spoke to the children, the flock and the followers that the angel had gathered. In the lyrics sheet, Reighley gathered that the line "You are the one I want and what I want is so unreal" was spoken to them by the angel. Then, in parentheses, the line "I am the one you want, and what you want is so unreal" is an admission of "ÃÂfraud, really, or perhaps stirrings of the self-hate' required to fuel the Antichrist.
Like many other lines throughout the album, that song both warns and explains, pushes away and pulls you in. It's both sides of the coin at once.
MARILYN MANSON THE SUPERSTAR At that point in time, Marilyn Manson, the band had achieved national stardom, and Manson's personal popularity is growing every day. Though clichÃÂÃÂ© it might seemed, Manson had said before that fame and fans' adulation was not what he hoped to achieve when he first had vision of creating a band.
"I don't want stupid people to like me because Marilyn Manson is cool and break the rules. I want people to try and understand what I am doing, by looking beyond my face. Because after all, it's just a mask I'm wearing,"ÃÂ replied Manson when asked about his popularity ."Mister Superstar"ÃÂ one of the poignant tracks on the album, graphically showed the downsides to this popularity.
Manson now had what he had always wanted - people who love and worship him. They are his fans, his groupies, the fanatics that buy his music, go to his shows, centred their lives around him. But even that was not what he expected or wanted.
Weiner's theory was that instead of having people who love him for who he was inside, these fans love him for what he had become, and for the mask of the star he now wore as his face. They did not understand him, and could not give him the human connections he so desperately needs. "He (Manson) communicate to us on such a personal level, we tend to expect to be able to communicate back to them on the same level"ÃÂ added Weiner.
Manson's humanity faded even further as the fans feed the ego of the Antichrist, as they offer their bodies, their souls, and even their lives for him. That was when he was made the scapegoat, the man responsible for his fans' actions.
A North Dakota man said his teenage son's suicide was a direct result of listening to his favourite band, Marilyn Manson . Fifteen year old Richard Kuntz killed himself with a gunshot on December 11, 1996. While listening to Marilyn Manson. Beside his bed was an English paper he had written about the band.
"(The music) wasn't a symptom. It wasn't symptomatic of other problems. I would say music caused him to kill himself," the boy's father, Richard Kuntz, told the Associated Press.
"We're the people who sit back and tolerate children owning guns, and we're the ones who tune in and watch the up-to-the-minute details of what they do with them"ÃÂ, wrote Manson in an article in The Rolling Stones Magazine There were other instances where two teenagers, described by the victims as "ÃÂdressed up like Marilyn Manson' went on a shooting spree and killed 13 other teenagers in a high school in Littleton, Colorado in 1998 . The flurry of backlashes as a result of his fan's actions left Manson enraged yet condescending.
"Society has traditionally always tried to find scapegoats for its problems. Well, here I am,"ÃÂ he retorted in an interview with Huh Magazine .
"America loves to find an icon to hang its guilt on. But, admittedly, I have assumed the role of Antichrist,"ÃÂ he wrote on the Rolling Stones Magazine .
"I'd feel like they'd proven my point by mis-perceiving me. If somebody were to kill themselves or somebody else, that just go on to show how ignorant people were raised. If they had use a rock song as an excuse to not go on living, it's pretty weak. I'm creating music, and I'm saying what I experience and what's on my mind. How somebody relates to it is purely up to them. If people want to be like me they should be themselves because ultimately that's what I'm doing,"ÃÂ countered Manson when asked about the direct link between listening to his music and the senseless killings .
However, even though he knew he had gone too far, he could not seem to stop them anymore. This was the power he dreamed of, but it was nothing like he thought it would be. But not even his own disgust with his fans or himself could stop him anymore.
"I know that I can turn you on, I wish that I could turn you off I never wanted any of this"ÃÂ¦", he wrote on the lyrics Manson's experience with the wrong type of adoration, on a philosophical level, was representative of every "fatal attraction" style relationships that any of us has ever had. Fans from every corner of the earth had came to worship him. Everyone wants a piece of Marilyn Manson - they all want to be what he is, go where he had gone. But what his fans don't see - what no one sees "ÃÂ "ÃÂis that Marilyn is dead inside, hollowed out and alone', noted Weiner .
"I have people come up to me and ask me if they can cut me while I cut them, or if I can put out a cigarette on their face. I can understand that people are trying to make a first impression, but I think a lot of people don't understand what Marilyn Manson is about,"ÃÂ Manson said exasperatedly . He cannot love or feel, he soils all he touches, and is disgusted with himself and what he has become.
"He is the angel with the scabbed wings, hard-drug face want to powder his nose. . . dead is what he is", he sang in "Angel With Scabbed the Wings"ÃÂ.
Marilyn realises that what everyone is worshipping is a fake, a mask he had created so that he would not have to feel anymore. All he had wanted was to create something new and pure, but now he is faced with the fact that he must destroy if he is to create anything new. "He is the maker.
He is the saviour.
He is the raper.
Get back - you're never gonna leave him"ÃÂ, the lyrics read.
Here, he was telling how powerful and destructive he had became. It was evident that he had made his audience reached the point of no return. He first make them, saved them and when they were convinced, "ÃÂrape' them helplessly. Reighley believed that this was the ugly, filthy and evil image he was trying to portray, a mere reflection of the American society. "He was trying to represent everything America had been afraid of. Everything they hate and everything they try and hide"ÃÂ, wrote Reighley.
""ÃÂ¦ I speak my mind and show people what's out there in reality. They're using me as a bogeyman but I'm reflecting it all back like a mirror,"ÃÂ replied Manson when asked about "Angel With the Scabbed Wings"ÃÂ .
PART III: RISE OF MARILYN MANSON The creation of the Antichrist Superstar was now complete. He was now the man America hated. The man they all fear. But ironically Manson felt disgusted at himself. All emotions gone and deadened beyond repair, Marilyn was trapped within himself, completely alone.
"A lack of pain, a lack of hope, a lack of anything to say I've looked ahead and saw a world's that's dead I guess I am too"ÃÂ, the lyrics, "Minute of Decay"ÃÂ read.
Realising that he had gone too far, he wished for someone to love, someone who could quench the feelings of desperation that were overpowering him.
"I'm on my way down now, I'd like to take you with me", he sang in "Minute of Decay"ÃÂ.
Marilyn wished to be able to go back, noted Reighley , but he realised that who he used to be was dead, a sacrifice to the Antichrist. All was lost, and his only real hope was to start to believe once again in who he had became, who he was created to be.
"I'd love to just give in I'd love to live this lie", continued the lyrics.
There simply was no future for him then, and that quietly desperate song became Manson's final acceptance that he would continue to live and die alone as the Antichrist that he and the world have created. "ÃÂThe first instant that the worm conceived of a plan to become this great and charismatic statesman of the impending apocalypse, he created the mechanism of his own death', wrote Reighley .
Marilyn Manson had became the Antichrist, the unfeeling avenging angel determined to bring down both the world and himself. He was quick to point out though if we needed to blame someone for his existence, then we need look no further than our own mirrors. It was the way of the world that had created the Antichrist.
"You built me up with your wishing hell I didn't have to sell you...
Whose mistake am I anyway"ÃÂ, Manson screamed in "Antichrist Superstar"ÃÂ.
Manson openly challenged us to see the flaws in ourselves, our religion, and our society that had brought about this terrible yet beautiful creature of destruction, Weiner observed. "ÃÂTo hate the Antichrist is to hate ourselves', he added.
It is perhaps that this message "look to your own house to find the evil within"ÃÂ, in the song "Antichrist Superstar" that had made it one of the most controversial songs on the album. "Antichrist Superstar" was Manson's first chance to exercise his power to create his own morality by showing the world what was wrong with the pre-existing system of values.
"I'm the harbinger and the prophet and the saviour and the destructor. I'm everything to all, or so you made me,"ÃÂ Manson answered when asked about being the Antichrist Superstar . Americans had made him, and whether they love or despise their creation, they have to live with what we have done. He had became the antithesis of everything we knew and understood.
"Anti Satan, anti black, anti world is on my back.
Anti gay and anti dope, I am the faggot anti-pope"ÃÂ, Manson sang on "1996"ÃÂ.
The terrible angel screamed his way through this track, which explodes with raw energy and sonic flares. It became a being of pure contradiction, "ÃÂa creature within whom love and hate, light and dark, life and death all meant the same thing', Weiner believed "Anti people now you've gone too far Here's your Antichrist Superstar", the lyrics continued.
Strauss added that Americans had created something that is so anti-everything he is a walking contradiction and had nothing left to be in favour or, to love, to support "I went to God just to see, and I was looking at me Saw heaven and hell were lies", wrote Manson on the song "The Reflecting God"ÃÂ. There, Manson lashed out against everyone and everything and painted a bleak picture of an uncaring world in the song's opening lines.
Here it showed the Antichrist at his most terrifying level, proclaimed Reighley . The Antichrist declared himself to be "unaffected" by the damage he has wrought.
"My world is unaffected, there is an exit here,"ÃÂ continued the lyrics It no longer seemed to matter to him that many have put their faith and trust in him as a saviour and hero, Strauss noted. He had got what he wanted out of the masses, and they were dispensable to him.
"ÃÂThis is Antichrist's master and slave morality in action - no pity or compassion for those who are weaker than you,' Reighley added.
PART IV: DEATH OF THE ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR It became clear that the Antichrist was racing towards his own death in "The Reflecting God"ÃÂ, but even that no longer seemed to matter to him. Begging for the bullet that would finally put an end to it all, The Antichrist's world comes crashing down around him, once again he was left all alone.
In "Man That You Fear" it signalled the end of the life of the Antichrist Superstar. The fans have all left, betrayed by their master. Society had shunned him, became less of a man as an angel than he was as a worm.
Reighley concluded that "Man That You Fear" worked lyrically on two levels - it is at once a description of the death of the Antichrist and a condemnation of the Christian Church that created him.
"ÃÂOn one hand the song is the sorrowful, almost apologetic final words of a man who knows his life is over and that he has failed. But, at the same time, it is a direct assault on the Christian church, who has failed just as badly as he has,' wrote Reighley.
Once again, Marilyn reiterated for the listener that he was only what the world had made him, that he was no more evil than it was.
"I have it all and I have no choice but to Someone had to go this far I was born into this,"ÃÂ he lamented in "Man That You Fear"ÃÂ.
Marilyn was almost penitent, saying that he "had no choice" to become what he did, that he was "born into this".
"Peel off all those eyes, crawl into the dark You've poisoned all your children to camouflage your scars I am so tangled in my sins that I cannot escape", the lyrics continued.
But, at the same time, Marilyn showed that the church had lost as well. They perpetuated the problem they had to their children just to avoid having to view their own deficiencies. They were left as frightened and as alone as he was, their morality and society in shambles as well. Manson taunted the church saying they can't ask God for help any longer. For he had became God, he had the power. It was up to Manson whether or not anyone is saved, anyone was worth anything, and there was no salvation or forgiveness in Manson's world.
"Pray now baby, pray your life was just a dream The world in my hands, there's no one left to hear you scream"ÃÂ, the lyrics read. And it seemed that Marilyn had both lost and won his war.
The song ends with a computerised voice repeating over and over "When all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed". Here, Reighley explained that Manson craved power and love, but achieving his goal required the death of all he was. He got his wish, but his dreams were shattered with that very action, leaving him worse off than when he began.
The interesting thing in this album is there is a period of silence after this song, when suddenly "Track 99"ÃÂ began with the same notes that ended "Man That You Fear". Then, "Track 99"ÃÂ ended with the same notes that begin the album in "Irresponsible Hate Anthem", the first song on the album. Thus it somewhat subconsciously creates another cycle, moving from birth to death to rebirth as the album cycles through.
"ÃÂThis is the root of the belief of the Antichrist,' noted Reighely . Manson believed in an Eternal Recurrence, where the same people and events occur over and over again infinitely in time. The cycle of the Antichrist is this Recurrence come to life.
"This (the cycle) is a metaphor for wanting to be a kid again, and wishing that I hadn't been exposed to all the things I have been exposed to, so that I once again could be pure"ÃÂ, said Manson when asked about the song, "Track 99"ÃÂ .
Conclusion This had been an enticing yet weird trip. It's like following and tracing the footsteps from the young Brian Warner to the current transformation of Marilyn Manson, all in seventy-one minutes and thirty six seconds. Not to mention the number of hours spent reading up books written by him or about him. In addition the Internet provided me with a huge resource of information about Marilyn Manson. Due to the age-group he was targeting and the accessibility of the Internet these days, not to mention his controversial nature, there were abundance of webpages, message boards and news group all dedicated and devoted to Marilyn Manson at every corner on the world wide web. From his abusive and submissive childhood experiences to being destructive and the man everybody love to hate, one can find everything.
Though the album sounded heavy at times, it sound nothing like the trash, heavy, "ÃÂblack' metal bands filled with senseless screamings. Instead, Antichrist Superstar is almost philosophical and a swipe at the American society. One can sometimes almost feel the pain and agony what Manson, or in that case, Warner went through and empathise with it. Though I must admit I am no Marilyn Manson's fan (this is the first time I'm listening to him and I too thought he was satanic!), there were times where I would agree with him on certain points with respect to the Singapore society. What he thought America had became could be applied in the Singapore context as well. The reason is because the Singapore society, by large, is moulded by what we see on television programs. And most of these programs are imported from America.
"People didn't know how ugly the world was because they never had the chance to experience it. People didn't know how ugly auto accidents were. People didn't get to see the effects of disease in full colour. Children today are very desensitised, by the tube"ÃÂ, said Manson when questioned about the effects of television .
We watch so much television these days that we began to believe what's on the television is what it is. It came to a point that are so desensitised that we take it that what we see on television is reality. In actual fact, how many of us had really experience being in a car crash, a natural disaster, hit by bullets and bombs and watching people around you in twisted, blood spilling, organs exposing position. The truth is that many of us will not be able to handle such experience, the real reality.
"Reality is just what's popular. At one point, the world was flat and we were all convinced of that because that was what was popular,"ÃÂ said Manson .
Being brought up in a Christian school, I do agree on certain points Manson brought up in Antichrist Superstar. It's about humans' over reliance in God resulting in irresponsible behaviours (it is not because of this that I did not become a Christian. Rather, it's due to the fact that I changed school after two years in the Christian school.).
People go to church on Sunday and confess their sins and the love of God washes over them, cleansing them until next week when they go out and do it all again.
"Sins can be confessed and you are "ÃÂclean again' and can start to sin again without thinking about your old sins. It helps people to avoid responsibility. I think they should ask themselves why they sinned and accept that responsibility,"ÃÂ Manson said when queried about Christianity .
All the filth of the weak and feeble is bleached gleaming white with a few anneal words and a wave of the hand. They are unwilling or unable to accept the responsibility and consequences of acting out their true desires and impulses. It seemed as though that as long as no one knows of their aberrant thoughts, all is well.
Then there is this question of fitting in. Christianity, works with fear, conformity and being able to fit in. It is a well known fact the Christians believe that they are the "ÃÂsuperior' religion and only they are going to heaven. The rest of the religions, including Catholics, are going to hell. If you don't do this or say this, down you go, you do not belong here. This unknowingly breeds consumerism and commercialism.
"The idea of Blind Faith has really ruined American in some ways, because there's this underlying theme of fascism... We're being controlled by our own stupidity and weakness. You turn on the TV, and if you don't buy this type of shampoo, if you don't buy this car, if you have acne, your friends aren't gonna accept you and they will laugh behind your back. It just eats away your Soul. It (Christianity) makes you so dependent that you're scared to make your own decisions"ÃÂ, added Manson .
I am not against the religion nor am I advocating Marilyn Manson and his beliefs. Though some of his songs, his words and his dressing do somewhat have satanic connotations, he do appear rather honest and sincere. His words are often philosophical and his works are thought provoking, self probing and self rectifying.
Marilyn Manson is not the sole Antichrist - far from it. I believe that the potential of the Antichrist lives in all of us, and when one tries and fails, there is always another waiting to take his place. The battle between innocence and corruption, religion and atheism, good and evil can never be won. It will be fought until the end of time, and Marilyn Manson is simply another player in this eternal game. Somewhere right now there is another young boy in another small town, feeling just as disillusioned as Brian Warner once did. And one day, that young man will grow into another Antichrist, and the whole cycle will repeat again and again, just like in the album. There is no end or beginning, no losers or winners. Only society's scars like Marilyn Manson, remain to remind us of the battles we fight over and over and over...
Bibliography Chuck, Weiner, Marilyn Manson: In His Own Words, Music Sales Corp Publishing, 2000, 189 Pages.
Doug, Small, The Story of Marilyn Manson, December, 1996, 48 Pages.
Gavin, Baddeley, Dissecting Marilyn Manson, Plexus Publishing, 2000, 160 pages.
John, Kennisington, Marilyn Manson Interview, Circus Magazine, June, 1997.
Kalen, Rogers, Marilyn Manson : The Unauthorized Biography, Omnibus Press, September, 1997. 80 Pages.
Kurt Reighley, Marilyn Manson: The Antichrist Superstar, 1998, 192 Pages.
Marilyn Manson Interview, Details Magazine, December, 1996.
Marilyn Manson Interview, FHM Magazine, Australia Edition, November, 1998.
Marilyn Manson Interview, Guitar School Magazine, March, 1997.
Marilyn Manson Interview, Hit Parader, Magazine, December, 1996.
Marilyn Manson Interview, Huh Magazine, October, 1996.
Marilyn Manson Interview, Kerrang Magazine, 14, December, 1996.
Marilyn Manson Interview, Metal Hammer Magazine, July, 1998.
Marilyn Manson Interview, Movie Mirror Magazine, October, 1997.
Marilyn Manson Interview, Official Website Interview, 9, September, 1998.
Marilyn Manson Interview, Raygun Magazine, December/January, 1998.
Marilyn Manson Interview, RIP Magazine, November, 1996.
Marilyn Manson Interview, Rolling Stone Magazine, 23, January, 1997.
Marilyn Manson Interview, Spin Magazine, September, 1997.
Marilyn Manson Interview, Timeout Magazine, 8, April, 1998.
Marilyn Manson Official Website, http://www.marilynmanson.net.
Marilyn Manson Quote Collection, http://members.aol.com/DVD700/q3.html Marilyn Manson Speech, MTV Europe Headbangers Ball Concert, 10, December, 1996.
Marilyn Manson Stirs Up Trouble With Antichrist Superstar, 23, January, 1997, MTV On-Line.
Marilyn Manson, CD Album: Antichrist Superstar, Interscope Records, 1996.
Marilyn Manson, Columbine: Who's Fault Is It?, The Rolling Stones Magazine, June, 1999.
Mr Showbiz Celebrities: Marilyn Manson Biography, http://mrshowbiz.go.com/people/marilynmanson/content/bio.html Neil, Strauss, The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell, Regan Books, 1999, 269 Pages.
Politicians Rally Against Marilyn Manson, http://wallofsound.go.com/archive/reviews/stories/3982_35Index.html Teenagers Make Up Half Of Radio Listening Pie in US, Reuters, 1998.